For most of us, when we start out on this path of understanding ourselves, of meditation, the motivation is to feel better in daily living. We might feel down or sad, and might seek more positive emotional states.
Paradoxically, I have come to the conclusion that this cannot be the point of self-awareness.
I can begin with the aim of improving my mood, but this can be achieved in so many ways: by socializing and through intimate relationships, by listening to positive music, by eating good food. However, each of these ways of feeling good is itself fraught with dependencies, dangers and patterns of obsessive thought. In other words, these strategies can themselves become sites for insecurity.
This is painfully obvious in the field of relationships, where intimacy and exchange and dependence leave us vulnerable to change and loss.
Self-awareness, on the other hand, is about being with the present moment, whatever it brings: not trying to change it, but to perceive it wholly. And sometimes the veil lifts; behind the shifting sorrow and confusion lies a clarity that goes beyond feeling “good” or “down” about life.
When I have no motive to feel happy, I can see the whole landscape of my life clearly and deeply, and that itself (sometimes, fleetingly) brings its own peace.