By Aimee Hughes
et’s face it. Life can be downright confusing at times.
Luckily, the secrets to understanding life can be found through the wise lens of yoga, Buddhist philosophy, and other spiritual teachings.
Come from a place of innocence
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.” – Suzuki Roshi
One of the secrets to understanding life is to accept that you won’t understand it, and to be open to everything, with a “beginner’s mind”. The beginner’s mind holds no expectations. Having no expectations and a certain childlike innocence opens you up to all possibilities, rather than living from a place of limitation or a “know-it-all” attitude.
Accepting life’s mysteries is one of the best things you can do to let go and surrender to the divine play of it all. There’s true freedom in “not knowing.” Coming into each situation from a place of pure innocence can help you see things as they really are, without playing your old “story” around it. Life will certainly unfold more gracefully in front of you if you approach it with the Buddhist “beginner’s mind”.
Surrender and let go of control
One of the great secrets to understanding life is to let go of trying to control outcomes. The truth is, we don’t really know how things are going to turn out. And sometimes, the outcome is much, much different than we’d hoped or expected it to be. Sometimes we’re pleased. Other times, we’re disappointed. Let go of controlling outcomes and being attached to them to feel how free life can truly feel.
Nothing stays the same. The only constant that there ever is, is change. We spend much of our time wanting things to stay the same, and then, when they change, we suffer. The uncertainty of life is very real, and that uncertainty scares us. But, if we can accept the uncertainty, and live in the present moment, we’re going to understand and experience life from a place of greater well-being.
Creation, Sustenance, Destruction
One of the great teachings of yoga is the rise and fall of everything in existence. The cycle that is forever happening in our lives is this constant flow of creation and destruction. This cycle is integral to life.
Everything is impermanent, everything. It’s all transient: our feelings, emotions, and life circumstances. It all comes and goes. For transformation to happen, things must die. We so often get far too attached to the sustaining of things, and it’s not healthy. Holding on to “what once was”, only leads to anguish. We have to roll with change because change is coming. Especially if you are walking the spiritual path. If you watch the natural cycles of nature, you’ll see the cycle playing itself out with each season’s change.
Let attachments to possessions go
Getting attached, especially to material things is a recipe for disaster because there’s always the chance that those material things will be taken away from you. And then what?
Life is full of surprises. Natural disasters occur and people lose everything. Banks fail and currencies inflate to the nth degree. Your favorite blouse in the entire world gets shredded in a heavy duty laundromat dryer. You lose the $100 bill you hid away somewhere, and so on and so forth. The less attached you are to material things, the happier you’ll be in the long run.
Cultivate presence and focused attention
Here’s a little secret: your most valuable innermost resource is your attention. You can cultivate a presence of mind that helps you appreciate and truly enjoy the present moment. And here’s another little secret: the present moment is all there is. So, taking the time to practice meditation techniques that help you cultivate attention and presence is essential to understanding the secrets of life.
Any and every style of meditation helps you do this. Some of my favorites are mindfulness, mantra meditation, and moving meditations like yoga.
When you’re grateful for the things you have and the relationships in your life, you become far more content than you’d otherwise be. Gratitude is a like a happy pill, and if you spend time considering what you’re grateful for, and then giving thanks for those things each day, you’ll flow with life more gracefully and with ease.
Keep a light heart
In other words, there’s no need to take life too seriously. Look at the Dalai Lama. He may have a million things on his plate, but he’s always smiling, chuckling, and making jokes. Learn to laugh at yourself and know that sometimes life is downright funny. Don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously.