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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Barrett

Practices to cultivate natural contentment




Contentment comes from our ‘unconditional’ relationship to what is going on within and around us, rather than resisting our reactions (mental, emotional & physical) to it. It is the peaceful realisation that we are whole and complete ALREADY just as we are, despite the pain, fatigue, boredom, confusion, jealousy, nervousness, anger, sadness, joy, frustration, and excitement that continually pop in and out from time to time.


Resistance to our internal reactions (thoughts, sensations, emotions) to lifes natural appearance is what causes suffering.


There are many practices to guide you to inherent contentment (peaceful, unconditional okness regardless of lifes play of ever changing appearances).


Mindfulness is an amazing practice to cultivate focused attention to what is right here, right now in your experience, without judging your experiences (thoughts, sensations, emotions) as good or bad. It is one of the most well studied for calming down the body and weathering what can be the manic cyclone of the psyche.


The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Notice how you FEEL as you practice mindfulness, does your body relax?, do you access just a little more natural okness?, are thoughts a little less crazy?, do you feel a little less needy and more resourced, complete and whole? If yes it means your natural, already inherent state of contentment is being accessed. Focus on that inherent okness as you access it, cultivate it in any way you can and it will gradually become your default.


Imagine the freedom of not needing life to show up in any particular way in order to feel content.


As humans we’ve obviously been conditioned by the herd to believe that happiness comes in particular forms. Start identifying your ‘well being’ contingencies. These are conscious and/or subconscious beliefs that when I have X,Y or Z then I’ll be happy, fulfilled, enough, complete as human being. When I have X,Y or Z life will be complete.


Some common examples


When I have a bigger house, more money, financial stability…then I’ll be happy.


When my kids are happy and successful…I’ll know I did a great job raising them…then I’ll be happy.


When I retire…


When I’ve lost weight…


When I’m more sociable and have more friends…


When I or my loved ones no longer feel anxious, depressed or unwell….


When…when…when…

If….If….If….


Of course it is great to have goals and desires and of course we want health and happiness for ourselves and loved ones but unhealthy attachments to ‘well-being’ contingencies is obviously problematic as dependancy is created on fluctuating circumstances that we have no control over whatsoever. The false notion/belief that you have to wait until the ‘well being’ contingencies are realised permanently to be content, fulfilled or enough is the root of all suffering. ‘Well being’ contingencies reinforce the idea that you/life is not enough and complete right here; that self love and unconditional acceptance needs to wait until tomorrow…when….

Tomorrow never comes!!

Life is always and only RIGHT HERE…NOW!!


Contentment, self love, enoughness, fulfilment, completion IS ALWAYS HERE…NOW.


If you are human you naturally have a few subconscious ‘well being’ contingencies running. Take some time to sit, reflect and contemplate. Ask yourself what am I waiting for?, what do I think needs to happen before I can feel content, enough or fulfilled? How can I begin to feel unconditionally accepting of myself/ my life right now? Deeply reflect on which particular ‘well being’ contingencies are holding you back from natural contentment being accessed here…NOW… and can you release them now instead of waiting a lifetime for these contingencies to come to fruition (if they ever do!!). Tricky I know, but what choice do we have, fight and resist ‘what is’ or choose to accept and allow ‘what is’. Paradoxically it is in the complete acceptance of what is, that what is can begin to transform. What we resist persists!!


Do we still strive to achieve goals, a healthy body, to evolve our intellectual and emotional intelligence?…of course! It’s what makes life more enjoyable :)


True empowerment is deciding that your contentment and well being is no longer contingent upon others being a certain way or circumstances being a certain way. It is accessing your unconditional okness regardless of life's ever fluctuating appearances (which will always be out of your control). The nature of life is always beautifully crazy, unpredictable and always out of control, why not ride it with abandon ‘as it is’ instead of trying to predict and control it! A game you’ll NEVER win!


Radical Acceptance of EVERY emotion and sensation in the body

This is easier said than done:) but insanely liberating when you get a handle on it. The human is so heavily subconsciously conditioned that some emotions and feelings are ok and some are not! We really believe that they say something about who we are, they don’t, they are simply emotions and feelings. There are few guarantees about anything in life, but  one that can be offered with absolute certainty is that whatever emotion or thoughts you are experiencing right now will soon leave and be replaced with different ones. It is the natural eb and flow of life. What comes goes. All appearances, thoughts, emotions, sensations have a life span; a beginning and an end. EVERY appearance, relationship, experience has a beginning and an end…That’s life!. Your natural inherent okness is the unconditional field that they come and go within!


Emotions have triggers, they arise…they do their thing…they dissolve….nothing more..nothing less. If many years have been spent trying to understand, control or heal the mental, emotional, physical fields (which without doubt has its place) it may be time to try ‘radical acceptance’ as part of your repertoire of practices.


Myriad emotions, thoughts, sensations come and go, day in, day out, like guests in your home. Some welcome, some not so :). That is what it is to be human.


Problems arise when we accept some emotions and feelings and reject others. Some we try to cling on to, creating unhealthy co dependant relationships, such as serenity, happiness, joy, passion, excitement, safety, motivation etc… And others we despise, reject and avoid so much that we build walls around our heart to protect ourselves from them eg shame, grief, loneliness, sadness, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment, anger, rage, fear, nervousness etc….every single emotion is a natural, perfect expression of life. How could it not be?…it’s appearing!!


Which emotions do you prefer and always want to feel and cling to?

Which emotions do you reject and protect yourself from and despise feeling…are maybe even afraid of feeling? (Just a heads up..every emotion exists within every human). I hear so many clients say I’m this or that kind of person. I’m kind, considerate, I always help everyone out, I don’t get angry or envious etc…etc…I’m sure these are some aspects but I assure you…every human experiences every emotion but if they are not acknowledged and allowed to be and breathe they simply go underground and wreak havoc in the psyche. There’s nothing wrong with any emotion, they don’t say anything about you…just a fleeting appearance.


We reject them subconsciously because as children we didn’t have the capacity to deal with them. We were taught that some are ok to feel and some are not. As adults we most certainly do have the capacity to be with them. We just need to be with them as they arise..unconditionally…without judgement. The more you allow them exactly as they are, even the resistance to them :), the easier it gets and avoidance and resistance patterns/behaviours begin to dissolve..because they are no longer necessary. The walls of protection can begin to crumble…revealing the inherent contentment that is always right here….right now…within and as the present.


Practicing mindfulness and radical acceptance and unconditional regard of lifes EVERY appearance cultivates a natural contentment or a going with the flow. Life is as it is in every moment. If you fight your natural reactions to the ‘isness’ of life, you’ll suffer. It may seem so radical a notion that you really can be content within the midst of mental and emotional turmoil, but this is a natural capacity that every human has.


A natural contentment that is not contingent upon lifes natural flowing appearances ( & our reactions to them) needing to be any particular way.


A natural contentment and acceptance of the human condition of thinking and feeling. 


An appreciation of this amazing faculty that the human brain has to be able to think and feel, but no longer trying to find permanent contentment within the ever fluctuating states and appearances.


We can be unconditionally content within our joy, excitement, passion, embarrassment, grief, sadness, fear (whatever arises) knowing without doubt that everything that arises…dissolves…even the ‘good’  and ‘bad’ stuff :)

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