What if we simply lived? Wouldn’t life be much easier? Yet isn’t it normal that life is a struggle? That we face pain or suffering? What can living simple change about that? There is a distinct difference.
I was watching a masterclass by John Kabat-Zinn on meditation and mindfulness and here I was introduced to the concept of simply living. It’s not at all what I thought it was. We live, that’s a fact, it’s a given. Simply living on the other hand is something we practice. Simple living, which I thought this was, is completely different. Simple living involves being fine with little possessions. Simple living can be a minimalist life or living in a tiny house. A simple life can be going into nature, cutting yourself off from the internet, and attending to the essence of living. Gardening, harvesting your food, gathering water, and withstanding the seasons. That’s simple living. It’s being happy with little.
This is a beautiful lesson, but not the lesson I want to touch on. The lesson I want to touch on is simply living. Something closely related to simple living yet taking place mostly internally instead of externally. Simply living is the path we take in which we have no judgments over life. Simply living is in essence a non-judgment and non-striving way of living. In this, we are simply aware of what is. Even in being aware we oftentimes use the word simply.
Simply living is therefore not getting rid of possessions or deciding to live a minimalist life. Simply living means that we follow life as it is. I can best explain it with a lesson I unknowingly learned years ago in high school. My teachers would often say to us students “simply do your homework will you?”. With that, they didn’t mean that it was easy to do, with that they meant that I shouldn’t think about doing it. I should just do it. If I simply did my homework then it would have made me aware that I often resisted doing it. Which made doing homework a struggle. If I would have simply sat down and done the work I would have found myself in a much more relaxed state of being. The only reason for that would be that I wouldn’t judge what I was doing. Simply doing my homework would mean that I didn’t resist doing it, neither would think about all the fun things I could do with this time. Simply attending to my homework would mean nothing more than doing the homework without the need for anything else to happen, or thinking about the last time I did homework.
If even this is too vague for you to understand I can give you one final example. The simplest of them all. If I ask you to simply sit down when you visit me, would you just sit down? You would, wouldn’t you? With that, it shows that simply sitting down means sitting down without questioning sitting down, nor judging it, or resisting it. Simply living is the same. We simply do it.
You are Already Living
By realizing this I noticed that I was already living. The feeling of being alive is already present within us. Only us believing that this feeling of being alive should be linked to being happy, loving, and meaningful makes us perceive it not to be this way. It’s our judgment over living that makes us less aware of the actual life that is happening right now.
Simply living would mean that right now I am writing this piece and you are reading it. There is nothing more to it, and that’s what I am doing right now. I don’t think about it or judge my work. I just write and let my hands glide across the keyboard. I am already alive, there is no rule for it. There is no path, no trick, no hack, no shortcut to feeling alive. I can’t give you exercises to feel alive, but one. To be aware, whether that be through reading, meditating, walking, or doing your work I don’t care. Being aware can be done and should be done through every activity we partake in during the day.
When you realize just as I just now realized that simply living is the way to feeling alive you’ll feel relaxed. Peaceful, not only in the mind but in the heart as well. I, by acknowledging this, ceased to judge that what was going on in my life, I ceased the striving for it all and simply became aware. As of now, all I focus on is writing this, that is all I have to do right now.
Simply doesn’t Mean Simple
A final lesson to simply living is that simply being alive doesn’t mean life is simple. It doesn’t mean that your life is going to be simple. That you won’t suffer, or have to go through pain. It doesn’t mean your traumas or struggles will disappear. It’s not some magical feeling that makes the whole world feel like it is a bright light. Simply living means acknowledging and recognizing the struggle and pain. Knowing that this isn’t simple to go through, that life isn’t always easy. Yet that’s all you do. You recognize it and stop there. You don’t judge it, by saying that it has been there for way too long. Nor by saying that the struggle is never going away, or that you hate it.
We cease the judging over life and simply live. Life, therefore, becomes less like a strain and more like an on-flowing happening. We recognize there is a struggle, yet don’t let it move us internally. We continue living, not seeking to be happy all the time. When we struggle all we do is struggle. When we are happy all we do is be happy. That’s what a good life is about. With that no matter what is going on in your life, you will be able to end your day by saying Today I Lived.
Simply live, by ceasing the judgment over life and allowing it to be as it is. Simply living means that we take life as it is and move through it with complete awareness. Not needing to change it.