zen habits : breathe

Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment

By Leo Babauta

I’ve been trying to more deeply study the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths lately, and because of that I constantly notice my cravings and aversions.

Who cares, you might ask?

Well, it turns out that as a result of these cravings and aversions, there are lots of little annoyances, anger, frustrations, stresses, worries, fears of missing out, distractions, procrastinations, disappointments and more that we all face in almost every moment. We don’t always notice they’re there, but they are there.

Try this: take a moment throughout today to notice when you’re completely happy and content in the moment, to just sit in the moment without thinking of anything but what’s in front of you, to not reach for some distraction. See if you’re not annoyed by something, worried about something, frustrated by something, rushed to go do something else.

If you can sample 10 moments throughout your day, and you don’t find more than one or two moments with those kind of “negative” states of emotions (they’re not “bad” but they are forms of suffering) … you are either very good at the skills of contentment, or perhaps not skilled at seeing your suffering.

Now try this: in each moment where you have some kind of negative emotion … see what you’re avoiding in the moment, or what you’re craving. It might be that you’re avoiding uncertainty and possible failure (and so you’re procrastinating). It might be that you don’t want someone to act a certain way (you’re craving an ideal way for them to behave). It might be that you’re avoiding thinking about something about yourself you don’t like. There are endless possibilities, and it can take awhile to get good at seeing what you’re avoiding or craving.

Finally, try this: just be in the moment you’re in, and see what’s actually in front of you. Not what you read into the moment, but what’s really there, in terms of light and sound and physical molecules. See if you can accept all of that exactly as it is, without craving something else, without avoiding what’s there. Just accept it.

There’s an amazing contentedness that comes from neither avoiding the current moment, nor craving something else. You just sit there in a happy state of being, perhaps finding joy in the wonderfulness of the moment.


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