I would consider myself to be pretty good at living my life in way that I desire, doing the things I love and following my heart. I’m generally a very happy person and I have this childlike eagerness for life that most people grow out of by their teens!

But on some days it feels like no matter what I do or what I say to myself I can’t get out of the ‘blah’ mood that has taken over me, and on those days I wonder what the art of living is really about. It seems like all the talk about breathing, meditating, focusing etc just goes out the window and I feel stuck.

Maybe I’m trying too hard? Maybe I’m not doing it right? Whatever “it” is! And all these unproductive questions go around in my mind making me feel worse and worse.

But one day I dared to do a new thing. I said to myself “You know what? You’re in a funky mood and it’s awesome! I give you permission to feel like this! It’s really good that you’re feeling like this and feel free to make it quite obvious to anyone in the vicinity.” The moment I said that I took a huge breath (although it felt like the huge breath actually took itself!) and I felt this burden I had been carrying lift from my body.

I had stopped judging myself, my feelings and everything else connected to that and I just allowed myself to be. Within five to ten minutes, I started to feel better and within a very short time after that I was back to my usual happy self.

This experience gave me some powerful realisations, more so than anything I had read in a book or had heard someone say. I realised that the art of living is not about achieving some perfect state and then beating myself up for not staying there, it’s about being true to who I am choosing to be in every moment. Whether that’s happy, sad, angry or afraid, just allowing myself to be. It was the judging and pushing against various emotions that was causing me pain because the minute I stopped, I experienced peace.

The next realisation I had was that all these things that different systems and philosophies suggest we do, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises etc are all designed to help us do that one thing that I choose to do for myself – let go. For me, that’s really the true art of living. And all the other things are just wonderful tools that can help along the way.

Mediation quiets the mind so that we stop trying to solve our problems and figure out situations we don’t understand. When we stop, guidance from our higher minds has the space to reveal itself. Yoga is another form of creating mental space by focusing on putting our bodies in certain postures in order to balance the energies in our bodies. By doing this we achieve balance in our minds. Breathing is all about bringing our attention back to the present moment therefore taking us out of the non-stop mind chatter we believe is going to help us find the solutions we seek. We then allow the solutions to turn up, without the effort, struggle and strain.

All of nature points to the simplicity of life, which is the way we are truly designed to live, if we will allow it.