What is inner peace? I've heard it described as being at peace regardless of what I experience in the world outside of myself.

What is inner peace? I've heard it described as being at peace regardless of what I experience in the world outside of myself.

When I use the term myself I'm not talking about my body or my thoughts. There is something else there that is more of the awareness of my thoughts or my body. It is more like the true essence of what I am. If you have never experienced this before you can try self-inquiry. Just ask yourself "What am I?" What will come up are all the things that you aren't. Keep asking, be open and look for the spirit of what you are.

There is a saying, "being in the world but not of the world," that kind of goes with what you will find when you start to experience the results of self-inquiry. You may start to realize that the world is nothing but change and what you are as spirit is changeless. From this comes the idea that if we look outside ourselves for happiness we may find it for a while but darn if the world doesn't change and there goes our happiness. The only place you are going to find lasting happiness is inside in the realization of what we really are.

I know, I know; you want to ask what am I really? I can only refer you to the above self-inquiry of "what am I?" for you to find out. This is because trying to explain what you are is like trying to explain what God is. The words just don't get it because it is an experience beyond words.

Another aspect of inner peace is letting go of judgment. I like to think of this as a kind of mirror trick. When I start to realize what I am, along comes the idea that if I am truly spirit everyone else is spirit in essence as well. What I'm leading up to is forgiveness. As I judge others I'm really just casting judgment on myself. When I can forgive others, I forgive my judgments of myself which is something we all carry around with us. As we let go of our judgments and grievances against others it lightens our load and makes the journey more enjoyable. And after all, the journey is what we are experiencing right now.

During this process your mind may have doubts or fears may crop up. You may even feel like you are stepping out of your comfort zone or losing something that you value. If you just let those thoughts be — don't react to them or try to push them away — they will subside on their own. Again, this is something that you practice over and over. Before long it becomes a habit where you catch yourself judging someone and you realize what the person is doing has no effect on what you really are. You let go of that judgment, feel better about yourself and them. You are choosing peace instead of anger or fear. There are times where this practice takes faith but as your faith grows you will become more self-confident. With this confidence you can start to question those thoughts that go after your peace.

So inner peace is really kind of like discovering all the things we aren't and letting go of them. These are our misbeliefs and judgments that we carry along as baggage that we really would be better off without. Don't be quick to judge and treat everyone the way you would want them to treat you.

If you would like to look further into this, "I Am That" by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is highly recommended. Two other good views can be found in "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz and "Awareness" by Anthony DeMello.

Mike Bradshaw works and lives in the Rogue Valley and walks his dogs daily.

The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on inner peace. All walks, faiths, paths, insights, lessons, revelations and experiences are welcome in this column. No one is excluded when we hold the light for one another. When we give we receive. Send 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan, innerpeaceforyou@live.com.