What is inner peace? What would have to happen in your life before you would say "I am at peace?"
It is easy to believe that our lack of peace is caused by others — the neighbors, our irritable boss, the kids quarreling, the world news. How can we possibly be peaceful when we experience chaos, conflict, argument, neediness, suffering and unreasonable demands everywhere? But if you reflect, you may discover how you create and amplify your own inner conflict, and block access to your natural state of peace.
Here are five possibilities:
1. You want your own way. Most people want experience to be other than what it is. This is a thought, and an argument with reality. The mind continually objects to the way other people are, to the problems generated by circumstances or our lack of control. We hear a running commentary in our heads about what is wrong.
2. Your mind is habituated to division. From the moment it realized there is a "me" and "another," right or wrong, good or bad, winning or losing — the shooting of neurons in the brain began taking sides, using preference and judgment heavily colored by conditioning to decide how you and others should act. This generates emotions, blocking inner peace.
3. You suffer from an unconscious fear of boredom. Your mind prefers reflecting upon the past and future, not the present moment. What will you think about if you are not solving a problem? How do you live in the moment (where peace resides) when the mind reminds you of the difficulties that have happened or might happen next?
4. You may believe that if you were peaceful, then nothing would ever get done. It's as if peacefulness implies blindness, insensitivity, callousness and selfishness. This is delusional. Inner peace and stillness bring clarity, compassion, the sense of being related to one another, insight and responsiveness without division.
5. You may think you will have little to talk about if you don't focus on problems. When we become close to someone else we often share our unhappiness, the challenges in our life, rather than our successes and contentment. We bond over our shared struggles.
When we cannot establish inner peace, we cannot establish world peace. One reason there is no world peace is because many minds have opposite views of what reality should be, who should be in control, and what is right and wrong. The emotions that accompany these positions promote resistance, hate, a desire to dominate others, and a cultural willingness to kill. These attitudes block our capacity for creatively addressing the challenges of our times.
It is simply not the nature of thought to create peace. You must seek inner peace elsewhere. You can try to change your thoughts but this is another form of division — me fighting how I think. It is more helpful to recognize the limitations of your thoughts, and get connected to what your heart feels, to become fully present before a thought arises to make up a story. Feel your feet on the earth, the air on your skin, and breathe into your chest allowing it to expand and open to life. Just be in this very moment. Take time each day to see beauty in your world. When negative thoughts arise see them as the energy of neurons firing, having no intrinsic truth or value, being old habituated patterns your true nature no longer needs to hold on to.
Use meditation to reconnect with your core awareness, which is already at peace, in stillness, like the center of a storm. As you learn to live from that center you come to see all the chaos in your life or world as misguided or misunderstood perceptions about the potential of experience. From this place, creative change arises. Somewhere within, you are already at peace, but your thoughts have kept you from this healing remembrance.
Bonnie Greenwell is a transpersonal therapist and non-dual teacher. Learn more at kundaliniguide.com or awakeningguide.com. Send inner peace articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.