One of my favorite quotes from the wonderful teacher Bhante G: “The life of one who is content is very easy. The practice of meditation also becomes easy. The Dhamma practice, the practice of jhanas, is for one who is content, not one who is fundamentally discontent…This is contentment: you need nothing more than the moment provides.”
This turns on its head a typical notion people have about meditation. The popular understanding is that you do meditation to calm down or relax. But here the teaching is that it is contentment itself that leads to deeper meditation. I can say that this teaching of contentment has done more for my meditation practice and my life than anything else. I think there is far too much emphasis on mindfulness practice and too little on Right Effort. Right Effort is what leads to mindfulness. It is incredibly hard to be mindful when one’s mind is full of worry.
So how to get rid of worry? Let go. Not letting go in the deepest sense. That’s far too easy. No, it’s letting go in the worldly sense! Letting go of responsibilities. Letting go of career goals. Letting go of the desire to hold the world’s greatest dinner party. That’s the hard part.
It’s right there in the Metta Sutta. The practice is for one who is “contented and easily satisfied, unburdened with duties, and frugal in their ways.”
The path isn’t about making our ordinary lives a little less painful. It’s about transforming what we care about in order to find true happiness.