Why do we struggle to be calm, content, and happy? One of the reasons is we are restless about a better future. Too often, we are waiting for something to change favorably in our lives. Getting a promotion, winning a business deal, losing weight, improving our love life, or traveling to new locations. 


This restlessness comes from a belief that by achieving such milestones, we would somehow be at peace and happier. This belief is flawed. Our restlessness stretches beyond particular goals and so does our lack of peace. 


The only way to experience inner peace is to learn to live in the present. To be anchored in what is, without obsessing about what could be, should be, and would be. To be at ease with the current imperfections of our life and knowing that we are a work in progress. But this requires an important skill.


Being attached to favorable future outcomes is only one of our mental obsessions. Our mind is constantly racing with an unending stream of thoughts. We don’t consciously generate these thoughts — they just keep arising on their own. And a vast majority of these thoughts are linked to the past or the future. Unfortunately, many of them are not healthy and lead to negative emotions. Dwelling on missed opportunities of the past makes us sad; fear of a potentially unfavorable event in the future makes us anxious. 


Living in the present requires being in touch with our inner being — the thoughts we are having and the feelings we are experiencing in that moment. Being attuned to our inner being ensures that we are not at the mercy of every thought and feeling that we experience. We can’t control how they arise within us, but by being aware of them, we can improve how we act from them. 


When we are mindful this way, we can quickly catch the thoughts and feelings that arise from our ego, envy, fear, over-excitement, passion, or restlessness. The moment we instinctively want to win an argument or prove how smart we are, feel low from someone else’s success. feel anxious about an uncertain future or impulsively reach out for our phone. Such awareness helps us reduce the power of these impulses on our mind, which in turn helps us experience greater peace and calm. 


Being in this state requires building a deeper acceptance of our current reality, without wishing it to be different , even when we are in physical or emotional discomfort. By simply training our attention on observing what’s happening within. As we practice being self-aware, it’s important to not judge ourselves or our thoughts and feelings. Judging them, wishing them to go away, or indulging in them only serves to fuel them. 


If you have tried any of this, you would perhaps agree on how hard it is to even attempt being in this state. However, we know even from our momentary successful experiences, it’s the true pathway to inner peace. A regular practice of mindfulness meditation can help in slowly cultivating this skill. Learning to be grateful from where we are further supports the sense of calm and equanimity. 

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