In Week 3 of our current meditation course we watched a teaching on contentment and contemplated a comment by His Holiness Dalai Lama which says that: granted external circumstances do to a certain extent affect our happiness, but fundamentally, happiness or suffering depend on the mind and how we perceive. The purpose of meditating is to transform our mind, our perceptions, and so bring about more happiness. And of course, this type of happiness is less expensive than the other!
So can we seek deep inner happiness and still enjoy material possessions? Yes, we can. But we can also be less jealous when we don’t acquire as many possessions as our neighbour, and we can be more content with the possessions we do acquire and find pleasure in them.
We also practised meditating on form, by looking at an object and not adding our stories to it, but simply being aware of its shape. This is not as easy as it sounds – try it! Usually within a few seconds we start to think ‘I prefer the white flower to the red one’ or ‘The plant probably needs watering, it’s starting to droop’. Too much concentration and you focus on every tiny detail, then you may become tense. Being able to remain in the simple recognition of form is a challenge, but this is a technique you can practise with any object within your field of vision, so there’s plenty of opportunity.