What’s the weather going to be like?
In fact this is not a usual question about the sunshine, temperatures and the like. Rather, it is a question about your own state of being today as well as a projection of what it will be like tomorrow and the day after. One important skill to master in this regard is the understanding of environmental factors that affect how you feel.
Happiness is contagious and we all agree with that. And so is sadness. The environment around us, the people we mix with and their state of mind as well as the places we frequent all can have a direct and significant impact on how we feel.
Consider a fashionable café that is buzzing on a summer evening with people, with trendy music streaming into the open air. As you and your friend take a seat and order, you relax and are immediately drawn into the ambiance of the place. There is no one thing that really stands out, but it’s just the overall feeling of having a good time that is simultaneously shared among all those present that makes the place appealing to you. Even after you leave the café, that feeling of coolness stays with you for some time as you make your way home. What happened is that you simply picked up the atmosphere of the café, its vibe, and carried it with you.
Spending time in a group of high-minded and open-hearted people can also create a vibe that you can take with you. That vibe has a different set of characteristics. While still part of the feel-good category, it is of a different breed altogether. Its characteristics include tranquility, dynamism and peacefulness. They also include such amazing qualities as purity, joyfulness, determination and compassion. Many other beautiful qualities can be added to the mix, among them forgiveness, self-giving and aspiration.
All these high qualities do not mix well with the simple, feel-good variety that one can rather effortlessly pick up in a café around the corner. This is because they are of a subtler nature and take time and effort to cultivate, develop and express. They are like most beautiful flowers in an untended garden, even if the garden as a whole may look green and therefore perhaps pleasing to the eye overall. If the garden is well kept and the overgrown greenery trimmed, the real flowers move center stage and become even more admirable revealing their beauty to the fullest.
So to make a forecast of how you may feel tomorrow or the day after, what you could be doing instead is checking the kind of environment and people you plan to come in contact with. More proactively, however, rather than simply predicting your state of being, why not actively create it? You can specifically choose to clear your mind of anxiety, fear and other unwelcome feelings, while replacing them with the more positive ones, such as kind-heartedness, joy and courage. And if you can do so in an environment and with people which contribute to such elevated feelings, you will have inner sunshine all year round.
For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.