Life is meant to be enjoyed. Let me repeat that, life is meant to be enjoyed. This principle seems to have been somewhat forgotten, especially during such a heavy year as this one. I don’t mean life is meant to be pacified with stress distracting and numbing unsustainable behavior, or life is meant to be an unending pursuit of things and achievements with the idea that enjoyment will occur once they’ve been acquired. Your life, in this very moment, with all its flaws and inefficiencies and discomfort and loss and messiness is meant to be enjoyed. This can happen if we let go of all our rigid expectations and remind ourselves that we don’t have to be so serious about everything.
Isn’t it wrong to feel joy and happiness when there is so suffering in the world?
It is admirable to want all of creation to feel joyful, however stomping out your joy for fear it is somehow hurtful to others is looking at things a bit backwards. The world needs more light-hearted, belly-laughing-until-your-eyes-tear-up joy. Happy people don’t hurt others. Happy people help people. Happy people uplift others with their joy. If you are experiencing joy, help others experience it too, they don’t want you to be miserable for their sake. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said we “have a serious responsibility not to be serious.” Not only is it not inappropriate to be joyful in the face of suffering, we have a social responsibility to seek joy as a way of helping others.
Be the innocent witness, let the death grip of control go
I like those advice lists from elders to the rest of us that get spread around on social media from time to time. One of the repeating central themes is-all that stuff they thought mattered, didn’t, and they wish they’d taken all those “really important things” less seriously. When we meditate, we learn to find our fulfillment within as opposed to looking for it on the other side of outcomes and achievements, this is the key to letting go of rigid attachment to outcomes which is the cause of becoming a humorless control freak. When you move through life as the innocent witness, unexpected outcomes become interesting (or even amusing) as opposed to stressful evidence of a lack of control.
We can choose to be less serious at any time
I’ve always struggled with the notion that people espouse, that we can choose happiness. To me, choosing happiness meant sticking to my meditation practice so I was spontaneously happy. The idea of choosing to be happy in the moment never felt right for me. However, choosing to be less serious in the moment seems more attainable. Remembering that daily life doesn’t have to be measured in productivity, but can be measured by how you experienced the story of the day, and even monotonous tasks like doing the dishes with a spouse or child can become an opportunity for levity.
Kristen Vandivier is an instructor of Vedic Meditation and the founder of The Vedic Method and Meditation Without Borders. She is regarded for her ability to make profound teachings relevant to everyday life and her mission of promoting meditation for social change. After completing an intensive curriculum of training under renowned Master Maharishi Vyasananda Thom Knoles, including a three-month immersion program in the Himalayas, Kristen returned to found her practice. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and three small children.
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Originally published at https://www.thevedicmethod.com on December 2, 2020.