Giving Up Hell

“The crisis is in our consciousness, not in the world.”
 J. Krishnamurti

How often are we in paradise and we mistake it for hell? The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and we are surrounded by luxury, yet it is not enough. When outer conditions are difficult, it is hard (but not impossible) to be happy, because we are busy dealing with survival issues and basic needs. But sometimes all of our physical needs are met, and still we are miserable. Misery is often a habit of mind. It can arise out of beliefs that may have served us well at one time, but no longer do. Maybe it is a belief that we are not good enough or are not worthy of good things. Sometimes misery may persist in our recollection of past conflict or hardship. Perhaps it comes from our frustration with the general unsatisfactoriness of conditions in the world.

If you can see that your beliefs or memories are making your life miserable, you might do well to speak with a counselor to sort it all out and find new ways of thinking. Short of that, however, it might be possible to just let go of the misery by choosing to do it. We can make mindfulness a habit—become more conscious of our emotional state. Try to notice what you are thinking when you notice you are unhappy. Invite yourself to release the thought or belief that is causing you distress.

Sometimes we may be unhappy and the cause is not accessible to consciousness. It is not necessary to know what is making us unhappy to become happy. We can just set our intention on relinquishing the cause of our unhappiness. When you notice yourself being miserable you can say to yourself:

“I relinquish my attachment to this unhappiness.
Whatever the cause of my unhappiness, I release it now.”

As you do this, take a long slow breath and become more aware of your surroundings, your senses, and the state of your body. Notice the wonders around you that you have cause to be thankful for. See what happens.

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© 2001 Tom Barrett