Tibetan Buddhism has a wonderful message for us - it says that our true nature is unconditional happiness. This happiness has no reasons such as a new love, a better job or having fun with our friends. The unconditional happiness that is our true nature is always there, no matter whether good or bad things are happening - it's the essence of what and who we are.
If this is true, you may ask, why have I experienced so much suffering? How come my own deeper self seems like a big black hole that I'd rather not know? And how come more and more people are suffering from depression and the number of people taking antidepressants is at an all time high?
These are valid questions and the Buddha did not deny that people are suffering. In fact, he made it a point to say that our usual approach to life leads to nothing but suffering. In a nutshell, the Buddha taught that we usually look for happiness in all the wrong places rather than discover where it was all along - right in our innermost being.
In order to get in touch with the unconditional happiness in our innermost being, we need to stop running around, looking for happiness in all the wrong places and instead start to focus on our own mind. First of all, we need to take stock of all the different thoughts and feelings that are going through our mind. We may find many different ideas, emotions and body sensations - some more pleasant and some more unpleasant.
Among all these feelings you will find a gentle form of well-being. It may be as gentle as feeling the pleasure of having time for yourself and relaxing on your seat. Simply stay with this pleasant feeling and observe it as if you would observe a wild bird. Do not try to make this feeling bigger or better but simply stay with it. You will find that it grows on its own accord the more attention you give to it.
If other thoughts and feelings overshadow your sense of well-being, simply let them go and return over and over to this form of inner happiness that is always within you. You will find that the temptation to go along with more negative emotions will be strong but with time and experience you will understand that all negative emotions are just tensions that are simply covering up the core of inner goodness that shines forth from this first glimpse of unconditional well-being.
If you stick with this simple practice, you will find that the dreaded 'inner black hole' ceases to exist and that your inner emotional landscape changes into an eternally sunny day. There may be the occasional rainfall or even thunder storm but basically you are now in touch with a first glimpse of your unconditionally happy nature.
To learn more about unconditional happiness refer to Tara Springett's book The Five-Minute Miracle. Tara holds an M.A. in Education and has post-graduate qualifications in gestalt therapy, body awareness therapy and transpersonal therapy.
She is a fully qualified and licensed psychotherapist and counselor. Tara has worked as a drugs counselor, counselor for adolescents and general psychotherapist since 1988. Tara has been a dedicated Buddhist practitioner since 1986. In 1997 she received encouragement from her Buddhist teachers to teach meditation. Tara is the author of several self-help books. She has been featured in numerous publications and has appeared on various radio and television shows in Europe and the United States. Her website is: www.taraspringett.com.