What would happen if we challenged ourselves for the next day, week, month, rest of our life, in all of our intentions, words, actions, advocacy, and relationships, to both ground in and aspire to, simply these three core experiences? No really, stop laughing. I’m serious, what would that look like? How would it feel? How would we be and do differently?
It occurred to me recently that in life, in (and literally at) the end, what do we really need other than these? What if at the time of my death, I can look back at my work(s), my family, my friends, at everything I remember and leave behind, and really just bask in peace, joy, and love? Sign me up!
I label them experiences rather than emotions on purpose (is there yet a better word, though?). I’m not talking about superficial sensations of calm and happiness that come and go like weather. I’m after that deeply rooted, unassailable knowing–living, in each moment, consciously, in peace, in joy, and in love. It occurs to me that we can practice this; we can actively cultivate it, with each and every breath.
Of course, that’s it. Peace, Joy, and Love don’t just happen. We get to choose them. This is not an original thought or idea. But I have a new level of insight about it now. I can be peacejoylove at any moment. Would I call it a mindfulness practice? Sure. It’s a choice and an intention, a constant attending to both my outer environment and my inner world. It’s about maintaining a certain resonance, a sustained frequency, a rhythm, that keeps its own time, resilient to distraction and derailment, and that also simultaneously adjusts, adapts, and reorganizes as needed. Like a heart beat. I feel more peaceful just typing this.
I will fail. Repeatedly. Severely. But as they say in mindfulness, rather than judge the departure, I can simply, calmly, and lovingly acknowledge it, and then celebrate the return. Because as long as I commit, I will always return. I can keep going, keep doing, keep being.
So then, what would I actually be like if I did this? How could you tell?
I think I would take deeper breaths, and breathe more slowly in general. I might walk more slowly too, except when I bounce and sashay in rhythm to my favorite songs on the sidewalk. I would pause longer before entering clinical encounters, answering phone calls and text messages. I might pray, meditate, and be still more regularly. I might use even more fun emojis? …nah, I think I may have maxed out on that one already.
I already hug tight. I laugh out loud and often. I look people in the eye and tell them why they are great. I make time and go places to see people, be with them, do things that make meaning and memories. I try new things. I revel in all kinds of awesomness, all around me, all the time. I feel peacejoylove often already. But do I live it? Yes, sometimes.
I have triggers. I react. I lash out; I regret. I have a lot of work to do. But I’m on the path.