In working towards higher states of mindfulness, you’ll often find yourself challenged by your circumstances. I used to find that when life seemed to be going very “well”, I got excited. Sometimes I got overexcited. I would get so excited that as soon as any tiny blip in the plan occurred, I found myself diminished. I felt broken or unfulfilled.
This is the problem with expectations, hopes, dreams, etc. When we set our sights on anything, we set our sights on disappointment should that exact thing not take place. Mindfulness lets us recalibrate our brains a bit, setting our sights on the present and fully doing what we can do today instead of theorizing about the future.
A lot of the time, we don’t “need” mindfulness, per se. But you don’t really “need” a piano while you’re practicing, right? It’s just you, by yourself, but it’s still nice to play the piano! When you “need” the piano is when you’re at the recital. But you’ll be screwed at the recital if you haven’t practiced. This is how I view mindfulness. It’s fun when we practice it and it’s rewarding when we can really put it to use.
We practice all day, everyday, should we choose to. We’re either practicing or we’re not. The non-practice is an opportunity to practice, and the practice is an opportunity to practice more mindfully. Regardless of where we’re at, we always have work to do. But after a certain point, we find it isn’t work at all. It becomes playful and light. The days become a constant game of recognition in which the world revitalizes itself constantly in accordance with our our levels of attention. The more observant and curious you remain, the more you’ll find.
Similarly, we should be curious and observant of our own thoughts and emotions. If you sense yourself leaning too far in one direction, step back and breathe. When we get excited, we tend to balk even harder at potential challenges, problems, or distractions. Instead of dealing with them, the excited mind resists them and tries to fight. Challenges are what make us, though. We can confront them mindfully or resist them. Resistance turns them into problems, though, and they don’t need to be problems.
I still sometimes get too excited when stuff seems to be going well, but mindfulness practice has taught me to deal with disappointment differently. Instead of pushing against disappointment or feeling badly that my expectations didn’t meet reality, I simply adjust my sails. This was difficult to me to do when I was constantly thinking about the past or future, but meditation has allowed me to do it more organically. It simply requires stepping back, recognizing my own subjectivity, and even identifying my own delusions about the world, and returning to the moment. The moment is all we have. Again and again.