By Gail Brenner, PhD, author of Suffering Is Optional
Many of us who long to awaken to our true nature have ideas about what we will experience. We think that if we’re awake, we’ll be in a state of bliss forever, that nothing bad will ever happen, or that we’ll never again experience difficult feelings.
Here’s the truth: bliss doesn’t last, life presents challenges, and the range of human emotions continues to arise. So what’s absolutely amazing about this?
In this moment and any moment, it’s possible to find your way out of suffering and realize the infinite peace that is always here and available.
This is amazing because you don’t need to engage in mind-based activities such as changing who you are or figuring out how to solve your problems. You don’t need to worry about erasing your painful past. These goals will keep your mind busy forever and distract you from the happiness you long for.
The way out of suffering is much simpler, and it boils down to this very moment. The only time you’re suffering is now. The only time you can turn away from the turmoil of personal stories and expand into the ocean of peace is now.
Right now, and always, in this reality beyond time, there is an infinite space of awareness that is completely at ease with things as they are. Even though you know this, your mind may rev up again to grab your attention. Over and over, you can rediscover the absolute truth beyond all concepts and realize there’s nothing wrong and nothing to be fixed.
You—as your true nature—are whole, luminous, and expansively peaceful. This is what’s always true. Experiencing this is so fresh!
Awakening is timeless—it’s what’s true and real, right now. Knowing this, you celebrate when you realize that your attention has again glued itself to programmed thoughts and feelings. Because you’re now available to the peace of your true nature.
Here is your golden opportunity to stop and recognize that your thoughts are telling you a story. Then…
· Instead of feeding this story for one more second, you become aware of the breath
· Instead of embellishing the drama of your emotions, you open to the physical sensations appearing in the body
· Instead of focusing on the breath or physical sensations, you find your true home in the vast, formless field of pure, aware presence—and experience the peace of your true nature
If you’re like me, when the idea of a personal self starts falling away, you have the opportunity to return to your true home many times a day. With the fire for truth, just do it, in this moment…and the next…and the next…
This is how your problems and habits soften. There’s nothing to analyze, nothing to solve or figure out. And it takes no time at all.
Realize that you’re suffering, right now, because your attention has grabbed onto personal thoughts and feelings. Then, right now, lose interest in all thoughts and let attention rest here in infinite openness, unattached to any personal concept.
Your mind will tell you that finding freedom in the moment isn’t enough. It will set you up to believe that you should always be peaceful and that these mental habits shouldn’t recur. It will admonish you for not practicing enough or doing it right.
The mind is running on the idea that if you were truly free of painful and stressful thoughts then they would never again visit you. But none of this is true. Conditioned programming recurs—that is its nature. It pulls you into ruminating about the past and worrying about what might come.
But discover the timeless now, and you’re home. It’s eternally here, the all-encompassing, naturally accepting field of presence that holds everything with love.
“The discovery that peace, happiness, and love are ever-present within our own Being, and completely available at every moment of experience, under all conditions, is the most important discovery that anyone can make.”
Gail Brenner, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who joyfully helps people discover that suffering is optional. Through investigating her own experience and working with clients for over twenty-five years, she has discovered how to unravel common problems of everyday life to reveal the deepest acceptance and peace. Author of the award-winning The End of Self-Help and At the Core of Every Heart, she lives in Santa Barbara, CA. To learn more, please visit www.gailbrenner.com.