I went to visit a friend the other day that I hadn't seen in a while. He lives alone with a cat that he has had for some time. During my visit I found out that his cat has a respiratory ailment and was looking under the weather.
I've lived around cats since I was a kid and this feline didn't look like it was going to be around for a whole lot longer. As with all my adventures out into the world I try to be present and maintain a positive outlook. I don't know whether it was my soft spot for animals or the thought of the loss that my friend might suffer but something crushed my positive disposition. I realize that the cat's spirit is going to a better place and that things would be alright but I still felt kind of depressed.
After talking with my wife I realized that there was a lesson, a deeper reason for what I had experienced. I kept thinking that I needed to be happy, not depressed or sad. However the "need" brought no results. It was then I had the understanding that if I let go of the need I could just be happy, no need, just happy. I immediately felt better.
I've heard that the outer world, the physical world we see is a reflection of our inward beliefs, memories, and thoughts. By healing the inner self, the outer world heals as well. Some of the ways of achieving this healing are letting go of things like the past, judgment, and fear. This is what inner peace is all about. There's no hocus-pocus, mumbo jumbo, or complicated rituals to deal with. We worry, worry, worry or feel guilty. We judge ourselves and feel less than we are or we feel anxious about something that might happen. These are all thoughts that we need to look at carefully and ask if they are truly helpful if they are allowing us to be at peace. If not, then just maybe we should let go of them and open a space for happiness and contentment to come into our awareness. I think sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves and understand that if we let go of judgment everything really is OK in the present moment. Of course the flip side to this is not to beat yourself up if you try this and it doesn't seem to work.
If it seems like you try this and get only temporary or little results it is because our negative thoughts and emotions are like a ball rolling with some momentum. You can slow it down but it takes real desire and earnestness to stop it. Again it is watching our thoughts and just letting go of the ones that go after our inner peace.
I haven't been back to see my friend and see how he's doing. A part of me knows that he's doing all right because some of what I'm writing about I learned from him. Besides if I think he needs to be happy or should be at peace I'm creating an attachment. When the words "should" and "need" come into my thoughts I see these ideas as attachments. In other words I'm attached to a certain outcome. I need this or things should be a certain way and if they're not I'm not happy or at peace. This is just another trick that thoughts play. The more I can accept things as they are and trust, the happier I'll be.
Be kind to yourself and watch your thoughts. Be kind to others for we are all in the same boat. Let go of attachments and trust all that truly is. As the old saying goes, "don't worry, be happy."
Mike Bradshaw lives in the Rogue Valley.
New: The Ashland Daily Tidings now has short Inner Peace blog articles posted on its websites. Look for the peace dove logo in their blogs section. The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on all aspects of inner peace. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan, firstname.lastname@example.org.