“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown
Like many people, I lived my life for a lot of years failing to understand inner peace is a choice. I am not sure what I thought. Perhaps I didn’t believe anyone could feel a lasting peace inside. I did know that my own feelings of peace were always transitory.
There were many ups and downs in my life, too many claims on my time and too many difficult situations to be dealt with. I think I actually believed inner peace could only be achieved by monks and saints, or anyone living a reclusive life who didn’t have to deal with everyday struggles.
I was stuck in a world of confusion, wondering how peace could be mine when there was always something, some drama going on in my own life or the lives of those I loved.
In fact, it seemed to me that the whole world was filled with stuff, negative stuff mostly, which I read about in the newspaper, saw on the television, or heard from someone I knew.
It was the kind of stuff that pulls at your emotions—the breaking news story of a missing woman being found murdered, the tragedy of a child being killed by a hit and run driver, the numbers of homeless people tripling, and a devastating Tsunami killing thousands and paralyzing a country.
Then there were the stories closer to home—my friend’s husband being diagnosed with cancer and dying three months later, my father suffering from dementia, my best friend’s marriage falling apart—all tearing at my heart and leaving me hurt and grieving.
In my own personal life too, my emotions dipped and peaked along with how much control I felt I had over my own happiness. I literally felt like a puppet on a string, and asked myself over and over again, “How can I feel a constant inner peace in my heart and life, when my emotions see-saw up and down according to what is happening in and around me?”
Looking back I know I believed that my emotions were important. After all wasn’t being emotional an essential part of being alive? Emotions made me feel real and allowed me to extend empathy to everyone else.
But in the deepest part of myself, I did not feel good most of the time. I longed to not be so emotional. I wanted to be released from all the conflict in my life—to not react to other people’s words and anger—to feel serenity in my heart.
It was an almost desperate need to alter or to stop the negative cycle of events which seemed to dominate my relationships and my life.
I believe it was that intention which kept on surfacing in my mind and in my heart that fueled my spiritual search and led me to discover a more peaceful way to live, despite the conflict in my life.
I know that as the months and years went on I became more determined to change the way I was living.
It was a few years ago now—I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened—when I finally felt a peace inside that did not come and go along with my emotions or the drama in my life. I know it was the culmination of making a lot of changes, including:
Believing I am loved
Understanding that negative childhood imprinting leads to feeling unloved and having low self-esteem, I looked for and found the truth about myself. It was not what I had been led to believe was true!
Believing we are loved comes with knowing who we are, not judging ourselves or others for mistakes we make, and from daily meditation in which we feel the unconditional love of something greater than ourselves.
Monitoring and changing my thoughts
I once believed I had no control over what I was thinking, because I never considered the idea that thoughts can be changed! Then I started focusing on my thoughts and realized much of what I was thinking did not reflect the way I truly felt.
Just paying by attention to them, we see that many thoughts are primarily fear-based and judgmental.
And, because they come and go unchallenged, most of us struggle through life unconsciously accepting that we are our thoughts. We simply do not look at or challenge them as they appear and disappear. By accepting them we give them permission to shape our beliefs about ourselves and our lives.
Once you start recognizing them, you can go about changing your thoughts. Through observing how your thoughts differ from the way you really feel, you can choose to place a different thought in your mind, which more accurately reflects the way you feel.
Coming from loving kindness and living from my higher self
By noticing and appreciating other people’s kindness, we become aware how much it really matters in daily living. In dealing with difficult telephone calls, perhaps an angry person on the other end of the line, we can choose to be kind.
When a friend asks us to help with something, we can decide on the kindest thing to say or do.
If someone asks for a donation for the umpteenth time, we can deal with the request kindly. Obviously, there are times we cannot give whatever is being asked of us; when we do not have the means or desire to agree to a certain request. In these circumstances, saying no with kindness is the best choice.
Sometimes kindly refusing to provide assistance is important in helping promote personal growth in others and allows them to learn some important life lessons.
If someone is gossiping about someone we know, we can be silently kind, refusing to be drawn into the conversation. By choosing kindness, we allow positive energy to flow from us to others and prevent negative energy from reaching us or infusing situations. In this way we create and maintain a connection to our higher selves. And, realize just how good it feels to be kind.
Bringing the practice of acceptance into my daily life
Perhaps the key to feeling real peace is being able to accept what is. Acceptance simply means recognizing your ego’s voice and rejecting it. Knowing that the only person we can change is ourselves enables us to do this.
As soon as we start to think there is something not right, not the way it should be, or we become judgmental about a situation or a person—their words or behavior—we know we have moved away from accepting what is, by wanting to control what is outside of us.
There is a lot of negative energy and craziness in this world, but we can all learn to live with inner peace.
If your intention is strong and comes from the deepest part of you, it will happen. Outwardly nothing changes; peace comes from making changes inside you.
It begins and continues through becoming more aware of you really are, knowing you are loved, making changes in the way you think, practicing loving kindness, and accepting what is.
As serenity and unconditional love fill your heart, you will accept that you cannot go back, and will not relinquish what you have now found—that peace that you seem to have been searching for your whole life.
Finally, you will come to this—deep inner peace inside you that endures, regardless of what challenges life brings.
Photo by martinak15