cultivating bliss into everyday life — not just saving it for vacation

words by Brian Thompson, photo by Jennifer Picard Photography.

everybody values their yearly vacation — that long awaited, brief respite away from all the toil and trouble of the working world. it might be a getaway to a sunny beach at a tropical resort, a quiet camping trip to a local lake, a road trip to the mountains, or maybe a flight to a foreign country you’ve never before been.

it’s a cherished escape from the monotony, stress, and problems of our everyday life.

whenever i’ve been away holidays, even if i’ve gone nowhere at all and just stayed at home, i always seem to do a similar ritual each and every time — one which i’m sure you’ve probably done too.

let me set the scene for you.

you wake up peacefully on your own accord, with no buzzing alarm and no frantic rush to be on time. you pour yourself a fresh coffee and step outside, cradling the hot mug reverently between your two palms, as if in morning prayer. without a worry in the world you tilt your head back, you close your eyes, and you feel the warmth of the sun falling on your face. slowly and mindfully, you take a deep breath in. the world smells different when you’re not feeling the pressures of your schedule. the world feels more alive when your senses aren’t overwhelmed by all the worries of life. the morning sun feels more rejuvenating — you can feel its healing energy soaking into your sun-starved skin. the air crackles with energy from all of the life that surrounds you; dozens of birds chirping and fluttering about, spiders tending to their dewy webs, bees buzzing around freshly bloomed flowers, seagulls sailing through the sky, trees dancing in a gentle breeze, and the faint sound of laughter joyfully echoing nearby.

you're keenly aware of everything around you. your senses pick up things you’ve never really noticed before — colours are more vivid, sounds are more nuanced and serene, smells are more intricate and balanced.

you lose yourself in the moment and feel its bliss completely. your shoulders relax, your mind is at ease, and all of the year’s built up tension escapes with each exhaled breath. with your mind free from overthinking, you let out a huge sigh and say, “ahh, now this is the life."

it’s a moment so beautiful and serene that we ache to return to it almost as soon as it is lost.

it’s a moment so unforgettable that it becomes the apex of our happiness, a defining moment which we'll forever remember. we’re so desperate to feel its sense of aliveness again that we sacrifice our sanity for an entire year, slaving away at a job we hate, just so we can save enough money to take another holiday, in hopes to experience the blissful transcendence one more time.

these are the memories that last a life time, and yet there’s almost nothing to tell — you stood on a balcony, your breathed in the air, and you enjoyed it. that’s all it was, nothing more. but deep down, you know there was something more to it than that. you felt an inner peace you’ve never experienced before. you felt a wave of pure joy wash over you, brought on by nothing other than your undivided appreciation of the moment, untainted by thoughts.

your total awareness was immersed in the absolute experience of the present moment — you felt true happiness.

make no mistake, this is a moment of unparalleled spirituality — an experience of true inner joy, one that needs nothing other than pure awareness and gratitude for it to be realized. you communed with the divinity of the cosmos in that very moment, and you experienced what it meant to be fully and completely alive.

unfortunately however, these moments of bliss are fleeting. even if there’s two weeks of holidays left in paradise, the feeling might not ever return. you see, the bliss you felt had nothing to do with where you were physically, the only thing that mattered was where you were mentally.

it was the nature of your mind that allowed your experience to unfold, not the place you were in.

it’s a rapturous experience that leaves your mind reeling for more, and once reached, it’s something you’ll forever aspire to return to.

this feeling of total aliveness and unity with everything only lasted for a moment because that’s all you allowed it to. the bliss soon faded once your “normal" state of mind returned to its habit of over-thinking. you lost your bliss as soon you started thinking about what you did the night before, or when you started planning the rest of your day, or when you wondered if you might have a new email.

what i’ve described is a state of mind we shouldn’t have to wait to experience only once a year. this is a state of mind — a place — that we can continually tap into.

it’s available to you right here, right now.

i’m writing this because i just re-experienced this bliss again this morning, and it reminded me of all the best moments i’ve ever experienced in my entire life — nothing compares to it. the moment caught me off guard and totally unaware. standing outside in the crisp morning air of sunrise, i shut my eyes and absorbed the full experience of the moment with my total awareness — it was perfect and absolute bliss. i appreciated the unbound beauty of every single thing i could sense. all of my synapses were ecstatic with energy, and i could feel the aliveness of my entire being pulsing with each and every breath. i didn’t try to force the experience, i just allowed it to happen while letting everything else just drop away, naturally, and with genuine adoration for all that the moment held.

this is the place we need to continually remind ourselves of — it exists. it's not a place that’s only found while on a holiday in the sun, it's available to you here and now. it’s available to you anywhere, at anytime.

our bliss is found through a taming of the mind. it’s a quality of presence, a nature of absolute awareness, an inner peace with total acceptance and gratitude — it’s a state of being. it’s the place of unbound love.

we can cultivate this state of being through a committed practice of mindful, present awareness.

we need only to remind ourselves that this place awaits our return. it’s always there waiting for us to experience it, to be one with it, in this very moment — we need only to awaken to it.

unthink — drop your thoughts and let them fade away. don’t give them the light of your focus or attention. create a quiet space of emptiness in your mind for beauty to blossom from. pour your entire attention into the undeniable experience of the present moment, in all of its depth, richness and complexity. breathe and focus on each mindful breath. allow your senses to experience every iota of stimuli that tickles them.

this is the place where our happiness resides — you need not take a vacation to find it.

this is the true source of life, a place of unity — a place of pure transcendence in the experience of our total being.

bring your full awareness into every moment and let your love for the present envelop you, unfettered by mind.