HOW DO I GET PEACE OF MIND?
HOW DO I GET PEACE OF MIND?
As I’m sitting in front of my homemade shrine looking through the large windows over my deck, with the North Carolina mountains in front of me and the American river flowing down in the valley, I realize that peace of mind is acquired because it is the result of continuous conscious decision making over a prolonged period of time.
We all want peace of mind. When we are young we likely seek pleasure and excitement first. And when we couldn’t get it then, it is likely we seek it later on in life. It’s only when we have passed through our worldly excitement phase that we start to value the idea of peace of mind, realizing that peace of mind is a much higher form of excitement. One that aligns us with the inherent divinity of all things.
The difficulty with seeking peace of mind later on in life when we’ve designed a lifestyle geared towards stimulus and fun or career success, is that when we finally decide to strive for a more peaceful existence, we’re fighting a past momentum that moves in a completely different direction.
Turning the past momentum of stimulus and excitement towards one of peace of mind is much harder than one would think. We can’t just decide to be peaceful one day. Everything around and within us is programmed toward perpetual motion. The collective subconscious, or our culture, has influenced us for as long as we can remember with images of success, enjoyment, and fun and we have unconsciously accepted this to be the way life is. Hardly anybody questions or investigates whether or not this societal indoctrination actually will deliver the promised land, and we design our lives accordingly. We haven’t yet learned to cultivate a state of mind that knows how to deal with the negativity and anxiety that are the result of this worldly direction. Nothing has prepared us for this.
What do we do with the anxiety that this lifestyle produces; the perception of lack, therefore always needing more, the sense of inadequacy, feeling the need to be something or someone else? It’s a vicious cycle. An unenlightened lifestyle makes us endeavor to cover our feelings with more restless activity. Until one day the tank is empty.
Some of you reading this may question: “Is there another way of life possible then? I don’t see anybody around living differently?” It’s easier to look at life from a different perspective if you travel and visit different cultures. During my work as a regression therapist taking people back to past lives, I meet souls living in different cultures and at different times, valuing different things. It’s hard to look beyond your own situation if you don’t have any perspective of other alternatives. We become more likely to be conditioned by media and society with the resulting anxiety and negativity if we can’t counter this continuous cultural bombardment with our own unique and different experiences, helping us to develop a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.
There are other ways
During my eleven years in India, I was continuously exposed to a culture that, over the millennia, has valued spiritual enlightenment to be the ultimate goal of human life. Society was designed accordingly, and scriptures, temples, and rituals expressed this lofty ambition. Today of course, and even during these thousands of years, India too faced its own kind of problems, so I don’t want to romanticize it, but the gist is that there have been cultures, like India and Tibet, that have had fundamentally different ways of looking at the purpose of life.
In your quest for inner peace, therefore, the first step is to have the courage and clarity of mind to re-evaluate your current culture, both within and around you, and ask yourself if the way you do things is really conducive to the inner peace and contentment you seek. Separate yourself from the current that drags you on day after day, and stop to ask the hard question: is this helping me experience inner peace? Vivekananda, a great Indian saint, said in one of his poems: “Thine only is the hand that holds the rope that drags thee on.”
Once I learn to observe and become aware of my negative and restless thoughts so that I can let them go, can I pause and consider how to think and do things differently in order to build a new lifestyle conducive to inner peace. Sure, this means doing things against established norms and values. It means thinking for yourself rather than letting the images of TV and multimedia determine what happiness looks like, what you should own, and what success looks like. Perhaps you’ll discover that you don’t really need as much as you thought you would. Perhaps you’ll discover that success is a state of mind and not stuff, or a certain image, specific career or financial status. Perhaps you discover it means cultivating meaningful relationships with people that can actually think for themselves too.
Whatever this new way looks like for you, it requires you consciously creating it through awareness of your thoughts and feelings. At any given moment you do have a choice. You can choose positive thinking. You can choose detachment from the mad worldly ways of others around you. You can choose love. You can let go of the old and embrace the new.
It won’t happen all by itself. It won’t even happen when you retire, because if you don’t change your mind along with inner and outer culture, you won’t reap the results this change naturally produces: inner peace. A peace that is born out of the satisfaction that you listened to your own heart and soul, and had the courage to reshape your destiny accordingly. There is no money in the world that can buy such inner satisfaction. It is, indeed, a self-acquired gift.
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