Inside and out: it all happens here

Photo by David Norman

I’ve been pondering this a lot since the move to Chicago (and with some writing I’m doing under the topic of hygge). As you may know, my family just concluded a move of epic proportions across the country. My wife and I lived in Chicago years ago, we fell in love here, and since moving back west closer to family, we’ve wanted to move back.

Chicago is just so… comfortable to us. Especially this neighborhood we moved to just north of downtown. It feels like we were meant to be here. I feel totally at home in a way I haven’t experienced since we left.

In short, it brings me a sense of hygge (I won’t belabor you with definitions here). But all this hygge talk seems to run contradictory to the spiritual principles I posit. I’m big on the inside-out way of experiencing the world.

So why should it matter where I live? Whether I live in Waco or Chicago, it should all be the same, right? Inner bliss no matter where I go. Am I a hypocrite? A walking contradiction? I shouldn’t have any preferences when it comes to ‘outside locations’, right?

But here’s the epiphany that just hit me…

There is no real ‘outside location’. All of it exists in consciousness.

As I look out my third floor window onto the tree lined street below (I swear this place resembles Sesame Street — it’s so great), Chicago is happening on the screen of my awareness.

So, yes, I’m going to have preferences. I’m human just like you. We’re going to have two totally different (or at least slightly different) stories about any one place.

This carries over to the concept of hygge. I sometimes wonder, if I’m such a internally driven guy, why should it matter how my dwellings are arranged? I should feel totally blissful whether I’m in front of a fire or laying in a gutter, right?

But, no… It’s all happening in consciousness. Yes, this inside experience will evolve over time. Yes, it’s entirely thought-created. Yes, it changes, grows and evolves. But it’s all here. In mind.

That table over there is not outside. It’s on my screen of awareness. Right now, I’m imagining my coffee table when I was a kid. That’s happening on the same screen.

To take this a level deeper, we say it’s ‘inside’, but is it really? Doctors have opened us up in many different ways and haven’t located anything that resembles consciousness or a soul anywhere in there.

It seems more like this awareness is enveloping us. If you look through your eyes, your awareness is limited to the room you’re in — and if you have a nice view, maybe your town. But when you close your eyes, your awareness is infinite and not tied to what’s happening now.

All of it is in consciousness.

So just let me enjoy Chicago while I’m all fresh and starry-eyed again, okay? 😜

Meditation

As I sit here in this space — this room, car, train, yard, or wherever it is — I see that it’s all happening in consciousness. My favorite coffee mug has nothing to do with the mug itself, it has to do with the meaning I’ve placed on it. And that meaning is my reality. There’s nothing at all wrong with it. But it is true. Which means that home is a place in me. Hygge is a place in me. I am at home wherever I want to be. And I’m astray wherever I decide. Right now, I feel at home. Even though a night under the stars might be nice. And so it is.

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Meditation is a state, not a thing we do

Photo by Rob Bates on Unsplash

In modern culture, meditation has been sold as a thing we do. A ritualistic step-by-step process that leads from inner point A to an inner point B waiting just beyond said ritual.

I’ve tried this so many times. I once thought that, being a ‘spiritual person’ of course, and in affirming my ego’s label, I HAD to meditate. It was a prerequisite.

I tried zen meditation, Japa meditation, breathing meditation, moving meditation, and guided meditations of all shapes and sizes.

As excited as I was to talk about them to people at the time (spiritually humble bragging, of course), I have to say, authentically, I felt meh about them — at best.

I realize now that when I was going about it before, I was trying to meditate from a loud mind. A mind that said things like…

Jonas, dude, you have to meditate.

Hey Jonas, what kind of meditation is best for you?

Hey Jonas, check out this new guru’s way of meditating!

What’s up, you can’t find 10 minutes to do this — seriously?!

Until I started learning a different perspective on meditation.

Meditation isn’t something you have to do — it’s an innate state that we can fall back into at any time throughout our day (and often do without realizing it).

Meditation is where God lives. 
Meditation is where insight lives.
Meditation is where epiphany lives.
Meditation is where hygge lives. 
Meditation is where love lives.
Meditation is where innate wellness lives.

Instead of doing meditation, I like to think rather of living meditatively.

When the mind is quiet, meditation… is.

It’s my belief that the structured rituals of meditation are the results of a meditative moment. When our mind shows even an inkling of quiet, meditative rituals create the space for us to bask and deepen into the silence that’s already there.

If you’re like me and you put that kind of pressure on yourself to meditate, take a step back. Try living meditatively instead of scurrying to block off that twelve minutes before work to meditate.

Don’t see meditation as something that has to live separately from ‘regular’ life. Meditation is life (if you allow it to be).

Do you see how this could be so?

Whether you’re washing the dishes, playing catch, writing that fourteenth draft, or running for your life from evil invaders, meditation is a place you’re infinitely welcome to.


Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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