A Letter to My Fellow Seekers
If peace of mind is your goal, you must be determined. Tenacious. Persistent. Fierce. You must want it more than anything else because with it, you can face and deal with everything else.
How do you define peace of mind?
- Inner peace
- Mental ease
- Zoning out
- Being present
- Feeling joyful
- Living in acceptance
- The absence of anxiety, stress, obsessive thinking, worry, etc.
For me, peace of mind means my mind is calm and free of stress. I’m at ease mentally and emotionally. It feels good. But I only know that because I came from a place of not peace. Back then, it didn’t feel good, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I was used to stress, anxiety, and worry, but I craved relief. I decided I would go to any lengths for peace of mind, short of harming others.
How far will you go to find peace, sustain it, and return to it?
Getting to Peace
While life will never stop offering opportunities to experience pain, we don’t have to sink into suffering. Suffering is staying stuck in the pain – focusing on the negatives of worry, obsession, and attempting to control outcomes. Such efforts keep us in our suffering. Seeking peace – persistently, doggedly, fiercely – keeps us from misery and the insanity it brings.
I kept at it – from my early days as a depressed teen, to young adulthood and the “wrong” relationships – I wanted peace of mind, and I was willing to try as many techniques as it took. Even when that meant looking at my pain, digging into it and unearthing hidden wounds, I kept going.
I started early, using talk therapy and then emotion-based therapy to address my depression. This helped but didn’t keep me from several unhappy romantic relationships that showed me I was looking outside myself for love and self-worth. I found medication that helped with some of my symptoms, but then found myself in a very unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic. From there I went into a recovery program and used its spiritual basis as my regular discipline. The practical tools I found there have helped me lay a foundation for finding peace of mind and returning to it again and again.
Make a commitment to seek peace when pain hits. Peace does not mean avoiding pain, or denying it. It means finding a way to deal with and let it go. Peace practices are many and varied, and we must each find our own path and methods.
How do you find peace? To get there we need a path into our own psyches. We need to understand our misery, find a way to let go of its source, and learn to replace the negativity with new positive attitudes and behavior.
Methods might include:
- Relaxation training
- Meditation programs
- Spiritual programs
- Recovery programs
- Self-improvement/self-help programs
Whatever you choose, do it with verve, enthusiasm, and above all, discipline. Give it all you’ve got, and when something doesn’t work, take a breath, stick with it, and try again.
Keeping Inner Peace
Sometimes we can sustain a peaceful state for days, even weeks or months. But it’s more likely that events and interactions will intrude on our serenity and stir up emotions and reactions. The traffic makes us late to work, the dog gets loose in the neighborhood, the teenager stays out past curfew. So much is beyond our control that we will get periodically blindsided by a turn of events.
We can make a commitment to sustaining peace of mind in many ways. One method is preventive maintenance. When we practice peace each day, we are depositing future serenity in the emotional bank.
Sustaining peace practices can include:
- Yoga/tai chi/other spirit-movement activities
- Breathing practices
- Anything that feeds your soul
Regularity of practice is up to you – I find a daily dose of reflection essential for staying grounded.
Returning to Peace After a Crisis
Fierce commitment gets us going, helps us sustain peace, and when we fall off the beam, pushes us to get back on. We can rely on our regular discipline, our sustaining techniques, and any other processes that develop along the way to bring us back to that peaceful place.
Through experience I’ve found the following stepwise process works for me to bring myself back to serenity when a difficult or painful situation arises:
- Experience – Be aware while whatever is happening is happening, and notice what comes up for me, my reactions, emotions, responses.
- Allow – Let myself have the experience and the pain, without judgment.
- Analyze/Understand – Reflect on how I reacted or responded to the situation. Understand where it came from. Acknowledge the reality, again without judgment.
- Express – Once I’ve processed the experience, I can express my feelings and thoughts about it with trusted friends. If I need to share directly with people involved, I can do that too.
- Release – When I thoroughly process my experience, understand and appropriately express my thoughts and feelings, I can let it all go. I don’t have to hang on to unresolved issues when I use this step-by-step approach.
Whatever you do, do not give up. Be fierce. No matter how many situations you find yourself in, you can find peace if you persist. Take courage, believe in yourself, and be willing to take responsibility for your emotions and reactions.
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