Enjoying a lighter way of being

By | Gratitude, Happiness, Loving Kindness

How to be light hearted

Being light hearted possibly doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And in fact if you’re anything like me, probably it’s being serious that does. If like me, you want to let go of these serious attitudes, then you’ll want to learn how to be light hearted. Why? Because it feels amazing. And anyway, don’t you just get plain tired of feeling so serious all the time!

I arrived in Morocco about a week ago and already I’ve found it to be filled with intrigue…. as well as some challenges. The culture here is radically different from what I’m used to. And although it’s a wonderful opportunity to experience something new, being in a completely new environment and engaging with people you don’t always understand well can definitely be challenging

Walking into the local medina, or marketplace, young men will often walk in front of you like they’re leading you somewhere. It’s kinda funny initially, but as it happens very often and they expect money for this ‘service’ then it can get tiresome. Also it seems many people want their share of the tourist dollar, and so you do need to be on your game not to get over-charged too often

I’ve found if I’m not careful about what’s happening in my mind then it’s very easy to withdraw and become serious when faced with these types of circumstances. Clearly not how we want to be when exploring a new culture. I know what I want is to feel light hearted and care free. And one of the main ways I’ve found helps me to do this is learning to see the beauty in all things

Learning to see the beauty in all things

How to be light hearted in Morocco

Learning to see the beauty in all things is a special way of viewing things. I find it helps me to feel less serious and more light hearted. It means that when we see the things around us that we benefit from, many of which have arisen from the kindness of others, we feel gratitude. And when we see living beings we appreciate them and develop affection or love

Personally I’ve found being more aware of the impermanence of things helps me to see things as beautiful. I find that when I relate to people and things as fixed and unchanging then it doesn’t feel so natural to appreciate them. Simply because it feels like they will always be there, and with that type of mind I don’t relate to them as precious or important

When we become more attuned to the transient nature of things, it becomes much easier to appreciate them. And this in turn, becomes a source of happiness for ourself

Embracing my surroundings

I was walking in an industrial area in Fes yesterday and went past a river. I observed the light gleaming on its surface and the reflections shining in the water. To my mind they appeared as beautiful and I naturally felt gratitude at being able to observe them

After all, my ability to enjoy these appearances depends on having a human life, functioning eyes, legs that work, the kindness of others in being able to get there and so forth. I’ve found many of the people here in Morocco are also very open and kind

I briefly exchanged pleasantries with a couple of men walking past. And to me they appeared as beautiful and I naturally developed affection for them. All this made me feel very open and relaxed. Despite being in a foreign country I felt a sense of well-being and like I belonged there. In that moment I felt at home

Enjoying a lighter way of being

How to be light hearted balloons

Hopefully now we have some familiarity with this idea of seeing the beauty in the various things that appear to our mind. Both animate and inanimate. This in itself gives us some feeling for how to be light hearted and more joyful

One of the obstacles I’ve found arising in being able to maintain this experience is my relationship with unpleasant feelings. Feelings are a normal part of our daily life, whether they be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. And they are entirely normal and natural. There’s nothing wrong with any of those types of feelings and therefore there’s no need to judge them

But I know in my experience that when unpleasant feelings arise I tend to push them away. It feels like there’s something wrong, almost as if I shouldn’t be experiencing them. The only logical conclusion from such a thought is that I should only be experiencing positive or neutral feelings. Sound realistic? No, it’s not

And yet this is probably something we can all relate to. And it’s also a major obstacle to feeling more light hearted and at peace. Continuing on my walk in Fes, I decided that I was going to need to be more accepting of my unpleasant feelings. ‘Why not just let them wash over me, like sea over the sand?’ I thought.

Practising acceptance of unpleasant feelings

As I walked on I approached a bustling alley that was filled with locals. I felt slightly apprehensive about wandering into the back streets. But I was like ‘what the heck, might as well put this accepting unpleasant feelings thing into practice’

So off I ventured. Very quickly an old man started talking to me and following me, as if he was giving me a tour *internal sigh*. ‘No but that’s okay’ I thought and gradually he realised I wasn’t interested as I said I was happy just walking by myself

As I walked through the teeming masses I’m not sure I saw any other tourists. Apart from being the only white person, the fact that I was about a foot taller than everybody else also made me stand out

As I experienced feelings of self-consciousnesses, wave after wave of unpleasant feelings arose in response. But as I accepted them, it was just like a wave crashing on the sand and then immediately going back to its source

Eventually I came to a small suburb and was walking in the back streets. Seeing I was walking towards a dead end Adam, a 7 year old boy, and his younger brother offered to help lead me out

It wasn’t long before a few more boys started tagging along (no doubt hopeful of receiving reward I thought), and after about 5 minutes we appeared out onto a square. At that point they all stuck out their hands and started squealing for money. Of course what I gave them wasn’t enough and they all immediately adopted sad faces saying ‘please monsieur… monsieur’

This may have bothered me had I not been more mindful, and so I started giving them a mock sad face in jest. I noticed one of them break from the sad face and smile, and they gradually dispersed as they realised I wasn’t going to give them any more money

How to be light hearted

Being in a foreign environment can certainly be a way to make us feel slightly put off or on guard. Of course we don’t need to be dropped in the middle of a foreign country to feel uneasy or out of place. It could be in any environment in which we feel uncomfortable. Maybe even just a family dinner or awkward social situation

Ultimately its our own self consciousness that causes us to feel uncomfortable in any of these situations. The grasping at a self that exists in a very fixed way. And when something appears to threaten that self we experience unpleasant feelings and reject what’s happening

So in a sense all we need to do is start to let go of this grasping at a self. Then we can feel at home no matter where we are

Feeling at home wherever we are

I remember Gen Rabten telling this beautiful story about Geshe-la‘s uncle, Kuten Lama. Apparently it had been Rabten’s job to take care of this elderly monk visiting from Tibet, back when Rabten himself was only a young monk

The thing was however, that Kuten Lama would often go AWOL. And it sounded like this caused a bit of a panic. Why? Well because he didn’t speak any English, was from ‘old Tibet’ which apparently is a bit like the dark ages, and it was in Brighton. A place which is considered by most to be ‘a bit out there’. But in a really good way I reckon

As has been my own experience in Morocco at times, whilst telling the story Rabten said how in his own experience of travelling in his teens, he would regularly feel confused and out of place. Often times ending up at the local McDonald’s with all the other travellers. The point being that we take comfort in what we find familiar

However in the case of this elderly monk, as it turned out he was completely comfortable being in totally unfamiliar surroundings. One time Rabten said they found him sitting on someone’s fence, holding their hand. They were telling him their life story and there were tears in their eyes

Another time he had made friends with the elderly gentlemen at the bowling club. And when Rabten asked if they could have their monk back they said ‘No. He’s our monk now.’

I found this story so beautiful and inspiring. It was clear that this monk had truly learned how to be light hearted and deeply loving. Allowing him to feel at home wherever he was. And as such his pure, natural way of being arose spontaneously and whoever he came into contact with felt comfortable and accepted

So what’s stopping any of us from being like this? Through learning to see the beauty and things and developing a more positive relationship with our unpleasant feelings, we too can develop this light hearted attitude. We’ll then find it easy to be at peace and form immensely positive and beneficial connections with everyone we come into contact with. What could be more meaningful than this?

One Response to " Enjoying a lighter way of being "

  1. Stephen Heaney says:

    Lovely!

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