Meditation and other practices in a consumer society
Thich Nhat Hanh once said:
“When you have a tooth-ache, it is clear that happiness is not having a toothache.”
Usually, our teeth do not ache and yet we don’t usually feel grateful for this good fortune. Something very similar occurs when we feel our anxiety, fear or sadness is getting the better of us. Perhaps we feel that we are being drawn into depression and/or addiction. We feel so uncomfortable that we seek help; we learn to manage our attention mindfully; we practice gratitude, compassion and self-compassion. In other words, we use regular small practices to take care of ourselves. We probably feel amazed at just how much better we can feel.
Of course, now that we feel better, perhaps free of our addiction or free of our depression, anxiety or sadness, we stop practicing. We stop doing the very thing that made us feel better. We simply feel less need for it.
This is an unhelpful attitude. It is the result of our “tómate algo”, “cómprate algo” consumerist brainwashing, which sells us the lie that happiness is “out there” and can be bought or ingested.
So we easily fall back into our old habits of thinking; we go along to get along; we become less aware of ourselves; we fall back into autopilot mode reacting unconsciously, our behaviour driven by feelings of which we are largely unaware. One day we wake up and realise that we are back where we started.
This is the pattern for many peope. It has certainly been mine and still is to an extent.
This is where the attitude of the hortelano is so useful. The hortelano does not stop taking care of his huerta simply because the day is sunny and everything looks OK. In fact, a sunny day with fine weather is when much can be achieved in the huerta. He is consistent, regardless of the weather of how he might or might not feel; a little everyday, tasks like fertilizing, watering, tilling, removing weeds. He understands that his job is to create the conditions which favour the manifestation of tomatoes in his huerta.
Peace, joy and gratitude are always there within you. Irrespective of your emotional weather, a little practice every day will create the right conditions for the manifestation of happiness, of peace in your heart and equanimity in your mind.
May you be safe, May you be at ease.