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Being with what is – The ‘if only’ mind

I’ve been blessed to co facilitate a beautiful 40 day yoga challenge at The Living Room Yoga School where 50 + students have all committed to partaking in six weeks of deep practice.  Each week we’ve been meeting on a Monday evening to share our personal experiences – challenges, mini triumphs, general sharings.

It’s been a humbling experience gathering together in a big group, with most people not having met each other before.   Last week with the theme being presence, we shared how challenging it was to consciously stay present.   Whether this meant making conscious efforts to take time away from the phone, in conversation with someone, being with our loved ones or during meditation.  The difficulties of being right here, awake and alert to the ongoing distractions around us and from the internal looping of our minds thoughts.

For me, I shared with the group how during the week something that kept popping up was the good old trance of the ‘if only’ mind.

During the week, whether in meditation or at times during the day, I’d catch myself in a bit of an ‘if only’ trance.  ‘If only that relationship had worked’ or If only I knew what was around the corner’… then I’d feel at ease and then I’d really be able to relax and enjoy these moments, this space and time in between.

I quickly realised how dangerous this thinking pattern was.  It implies that right now, something is missing, something is not as it should be and ultimately something needs to be different to feel completely at ease and happy with what’s happening right now.

Whether consciously or subconsciously – at times, we all do it.   The ‘if only mind’ for the big things; If only I had the right job, the right partner, the promotion, more financial security, if only I could have a child. The sense that if we had something more, the sense that if things could just be a little bit different, then we’d really be happy.

And the ‘if only mind’ for the smaller, more subtle things. If only I wasn’t stuck in this traffic, if only I could take that holiday, if only I had more time to meditate or exercise.

What we find out is that the ‘if only’s’ don’t work.

When we are in the if only mind, whether it’s a longing for a partner, the promotion or the holiday – we are leaning forward.  And when we are leaning forward we are unable to be in the one place where we can find true openness, happiness and presence.   For as long as we are thinking that happiness is going to be somewhere else, it will never be where we are.

Anthony De Mello says “Enlightenment is the absolute cooperation with the inevitable”.

During the sharing with the group, we spoke about what happens when we move out of the ‘if only’ trance, away from our subconscious habits and patterns of the planning, worrying, judging, somethings wrong, somethings missing, if only things were different mind – and come into presence.

It doesn’t mean that we stop going for what we want, it doesn’t stop us from our ambitions – seeking the partner or family we may desire or the job we really want, It just means that our happiness doesn’t depend upon our life being a certain way.

It means that we open to the capacity to really be here, being with whatever is, moment to moment, celebrating the life that is right here.

So we learn that we can’t skip over any sticky bits to get somewhere else.  For as long as we are wanting things to be different, grasping or pushing away – we will always be suffering.   When we can accept everything right now is exactly as it is, and relax into that place – this is where we open to the life – and to the real joy and mystery that is unfolding before us.

And the beauty of it all is that everything is always changing, moving, evolving.

Inevitably, there are going to be ups and downs. There will be both beauty and pleasure and also pain and suffering. It’s all going to be there.  And if we want true happiness, we need this capacity to have that open-hearted presence that can be with what is. Right here and now.

In Dorothy Hunt’s words “The heart space where everything that is, is welcome”.

Thanks for reading this far. Wishing you a beautiful week ahead, being with what is. Exactly as it is.

Much loveeee,

Sophie xx


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