Everything is medicine. Food, sex, exercise, texting, drugs and alcohol. Meditation, prayer, volunteering, sleeping and shopping. We do these things because they change our brain chemicals. This is what it means to feel “good.” It means your brain chemicals are balanced just so. So you relentlessly chase this thing or that thing, trying to feel better. You do some healthy things. You do some not-so-healthy things. You do everything you can to feel better, and you’re doing it as fast as you can. It’s like you’re trying to balance spinning plates while jumping on a trampoline.
In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with this. This is part of what it means to be human. But feeling good can be such hard work. And is it really worth all that? Have you noticed that no matter how perfectly you dial in those brain chemicals, feeling good always eventually turns into feeling not so good? How do you step off this exhausting roller coaster?
First you recognize you’re on a roller coaster. Then you just observe. You do what you do, but you pay attention. You’re up, you’re down, up, down . . . When you’re down you remind yourself that you will definitely be up again. And when you’re up you no longer hold on so tightly. This is the essence of mindfulness. By staying in touch with the calm observer somewhere deep inside of you, you begin to respect the natural rhythm of things. Life is an ebb and flow. It comes, it goes. Your breath. Your heartbeat. This is you. And this . . . And this . . .