The Ground of Your Basic Goodness

Pause and gain that sense of yourself to overcome the never-ending stress of life
June 18, 2018 Updated: June 28, 2018

A lot of the time, life can be pretty stressful.

You feel like you’re treading water, or drowning from an overwhelming number of things to do. Or maybe you feel bad about yourself because you’re not sticking to things, you’re in debt, you’re overweight, you feel like you keep messing up. Your relationships might be a mess, full of fighting, or you may just be lonely.

Or perhaps something suddenly happens to shake up your life and you’re facing tremendous change and uncertainty.

Basically, life can feel groundless without solid, stable ground to stand on.

And the truth is, that’s normal. Our lives are always groundless, even if we try to get routines and control and stability. Things constantly happen to pull the rug out from under our feet. That kind of uncertainty can be stressful, disappointing, painful, and uncomfortable.

So what can we do?

We start by just dropping into the moment. Feel the moment as it is, right now, without trying to make it any different. Start to feel, with a raw and open heart, the magic of this miraculous moment.

That’s a pretty good start.

Then try this short meditation:

  1. Pay attention to how your body feels. What does it feel like to be alive right now? Stat with that sense for a minute.
  2. Synchronize your mind with your breath. Instead of having your mind doing something else, let it just rest on the sensation of the breath. What is that like? Stay here for a minute. Come back if you start to wander off.
  3. Now keep an open awareness on your experience. Notice how your heart feels. Attune to any kind of pain, tension, or tightness.
  4. Notice the tenderness under the pain, tension, tightness. That’s your tender heart.
  5. Start to feel the basic goodness inside of you. That includes your tender heart, but also your pain, stress, discomfort, and all the sensations of your breath and body. It includes your everpresent awareness. It includes everything. You don’t have a basic goodness, you are basic goodness.

This is the ground of your existence. It’s not stability in your life, not routines or systems, not a sureness of who you are or what your world is. It’s just awareness of your basic goodness. And you can start to feel it, if you practice the meditation above. You can start to sense it, and trust in it. It’s always there, in the background. It’s the vast blue sky to the clouds of your thoughts and feelings.

You can trust that it’s there, sense it whenever you need to, once you learn to sense it. This basic goodness that is unconditional, wider than you can imagine.

Practice this for five minutes a day, or anytime you notice yourself feeling groundless.

Leo Babauta is the author of six books, the writer of “Zen Habits,” a blog with over 2 million subscribers, and the creator of several online programs to help you master your habits. Visit