Posts tagged happiness
Escaping the Matrix with Meditation
Helene Clabecq - meditation retreat matrix

Last month, I secretly took off to Palma, Spain, to attend and preview a private meditation retreat at a Lama’s house who had studied religions for over 40 years with a particular inclination for Buddhism.

The concept of the retreat was to get out of the matrix through meditative techniques.

I didn’t realize how deeply lost I was in that matrix until we took the time to reflect upon it in peace, away from all distractions, in the countryside of Mallorca.

First of all, what do I mean by “matrix”? It’s the idea that happiness depends on “having”.

It’s thinking: “I’m happy because…” or  “I’ll be happy when…”.

In fact, the conceptual idea of happiness that is commonly shared in the western society nowadays depends on 8 “superficial” motivations:

  • Seeking pleasure / Avoiding pain

  • Seeking gain / Avoiding loss

  • Seeking celebrity / Avoiding anonymity

  • Seeking praise / Avoiding blame

Consequently, the goal of my meditation retreat was to deconstruct and lose attachment to those motivations, realize that change is internal, be more in the moment and learn to observe whatever happens in my life without reacting emotionally (or let’s be honest, at least, not as intensely).

At first, as I started to lose attachment to those motivations, I felt extremely low. I was surprised to notice that detoxifying my mind from those addictions affected me physically as well. It was like taking a really cold mental shower.

In fact, interestingly enough, after having interviewed over 300 people all over the world on their definition of success and happiness, I had already come to the conclusion that happiness was indeed a mindset, not a thing. Things are illusions of happiness.

Which is also the reason why I stopped marketing random products.

But I had never really applied that concept.

So that was the biggest takeaway from the meditation retreat that helped me reflect upon the Tibetan definition of happiness through introspection and development of awareness.

It’s about being, not having.

Choosing to lose attachment is a difficult decision that I keep going back and forth on and for which I have to constantly exercice my strength.

I am tempted to wanting to keep the highs high and avoid the lows rather than enjoying the game. Attachment often drags me up and down like a yoyo in a roller coaster.
Putting that thought into practice when meditating, the whole idea is that, for instance, whether I own that studio in LA, keep seeing that guy, do that collaboration with that editorial or not, things will be okay. The idea is to embrace whatever comes my way with its load of surprises and challenges.

Can You Feel the Sun on Your Skin?
Estimated reading time: 1'

Estimated reading time: 1'

It was a Thursday afternoon. As I was waiting impatiently for the bus, I noticed a man next to me, holding a white cane. He was standing dangerously close to the road, though surprisingly relaxed, smiling. We stroke a conversation about the bus being late as usual.

Out of curiosity, I asked him if he had always been blind. He hadn’t. He was a veteran who got assaulted on his way home late at night many years back, in that same neighborhood of San Francisco.

A punch on the head had left him blind, “all this for 20 dollars in my pocket!”, he shot.

He had to learn patiently the way between his home and the food store, the only route he could take alone, counting each step. He wanted to learn to use a phone. His earplugs had gotten stolen in front of him, and people tricked him regularly, taking advantage of his handicap.

But he was not sour and had found ways to enjoy life despite the terrible consequences of that one night. 

“That’s life”, he concluded.

He had no anger, no need for victimisation. He was genuinely happy, enjoying the little moments, like this conversation with me, and the sensation of the sun on his skin.

Food for thought for someone who was anxious over a late bus, five minutes earlier.