Dear friends, it is very possible to be overwhelmed by the evils that plague our world today, sometimes the thought comes whereby you just think, “I can’t go on anymore, this burden is too much”. It may be a financial burden, marital burden, academic instability, political instability, your family, or even your health. I want you to know that everyday mindfulness is not about running away from these things, or sugarcoating it, this is because a veil whether beautiful or not is still a veil, and the function of a veil is to prevent one from seeing the true nature of a entity, reality. I will never tell you that you will not face challenges, or promise you a life of zero opposition, but what I can assure you of is peace.
Your peace is a function of your thinking, your father cannot give you peace even if he tries neither can your lover. There are some of us who are obsessed with harmful thoughts, we are not appreciative of the things around us. Have you ever while rushing to work paused to “breathe” and “smile” to yourself? Have you ever been in heavy traffic and then you get so agitated that you begin to hurl curses at other drivers when they try to cut into your lane? The easiest thing to say would be “it’s their fault, they made me shout”, but the truth is we chose to shout because we did not have any other way of expressing our anger. Without gratitude we would live our lives without living, without mindfulness we would have bland memories like salt without savour.
Some of us emphasize prayer over mindfulness in our various faiths, we pray so much about things to the extent that we pray amiss. God is no magician, and he will not apologise to your wife/husband for you. He will not read in preparation for that exam for you. He will not plan the business meeting. He will not be the one to smile for you. Your religion is merely a light lighting up the path, you are to walk the path. You are to walk, smiling. While it is true that there are many things that remain unexplained in your life, and praying is a wonderful way to reach out to the divine, some of us are really not praying. Some of us are just complaining. We are in our A.C furnished office crying to God for snow. We are not even making an effort to help others who are dying of thirst in the sun. We just want more. We are obsessed with more. More blessings. More breakthrough. Even gratitude has become so twisted that we have stopped thanking “God” for being “God” anymore, we just thank Him simply because we want more. We see it as a transaction. Some of us want to manipulate this God. We are so full of ourselves.
It has become mere platitude to say “worrying does not solve a thing” but there is nothing truer than this. It is the ultimate truth. When you refuse to be thankful for what you have/are right now, you cloud your mind with unnecessary worries. Someone once said that half of our problems are in our mind, this means that taking a position of gratitude, of mindfulness helps you to see what really is. Gratitude brings understanding of the situation, it helps you think clearer so that you will pull yourself out of the mire.
There are individuals who equate piety to not smiling, their spirituality steals joy from them. They think that in smiling they have fallen for “self” or some “secret sin”. Recently, I was at a Holy Communion service and I saw people walking away from the altar with stone-cold faces. This is quite ridiculous, because the height of spiritual attainment brings solemn joy, you cannot help but smile when you have that presence of God, you cannot help but smile when you enter the passing-away-of-passing-away as it is put in Sufism.
There are so many things to be mindful of. Do you know that being mindful of your wife/husband deepens the connection between you both? This is because when you are mindful of her, you don’t need an internet blog to tell you “10 ways to improve your marriage”, it comes naturally to you. You breathe. You smile. You say, “I am aware of my wife, I am aware of my husband, I am aware of her eyes, I am aware of his smile”. Awareness brings intimacy, to know is to feel closer. It is your duty to be mindful. It is your duty to see the good in tough situations. It is your choice to smile in the face of mayhem.
Sometimes the only time we look at the sky is when we see dark clouds, and the only time you really notice the green grass around you is when wiping mud off your shoes. We are too busy to pause and breathe. Some of us are so obsessed with the idea of going to the beach to relax (not that this is bad) that we forget to appreciate that small bucket of water right in front of you. Let us be realistic, not everyone has the same resources. Let us be realistic, why should you kill yourself because of that?
You can be happy now, today. You don’t need an external agent to impact happiness on you. You need to be conscious of the miracles around you. There are some whose areas are so quiet that they hear the frogs singing at night, rather than appreciate this, they groan and wish upon dead stars for a house in Lekki. Why not enjoy this blissful song of nature before the morning comes and you are overwhelmed with the car horns, speakers, market chatter. Why not dwell in that moment richly and savour every bit of it? Is the singing toad in the dead of the night not a precursor to the music of birds in the morning?
Your storm is meant to mould you. These circumstances are impermanent and realizing this will help you to appreciate it better. Imagine, quarreling with your beloved or parents- when both parties cast their minds to 100 years from now, you will realize how impertinent your quarrel is, how insignificant you are in the stream of time. You will see why you need to appreciate what you have while it is still in your possession. There are those of us who look to possessions for joy, let me inform of a concept called depreciation. Depreciation means that the things that you own will lose value over time. Some analysts say that land and buildings do not depreciate so we should seek our bliss in them, my question to them is this: why is there a need to renovate?
Dear friends, there is something I know that doesn’t depreciate, it is your breath. You simply breathe in and out. Let us note that your desire for great wealth is not an issue at all, the issue here is, you have these things, why are you still sad?
Do you know what I see when I see dark clouds? I see beautiful flowers, but I also see a mighty flood. Mindfulness enables you to look deeply and perceive what is. So a flood is coming?… I will not clog the gutters, I will not encroach the waterways and even if the flood still gets to me, I will use it to water my garden of beautiful flowers. Happiness is totally your choice. Smile, I believe in you.
Bio: Olawale Ibiyemi is a young poet, peace activist, and universalist.
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