In parts one and two of this series, we examined what inner peace actually means and the qualities of the warrior that are necessary to discover peace. In this post, we explore the nuts and bolts of how to actually live in peace. Inner peace sounds great, and we love it when it pervades our lives, but how can it be sustainable and enduring? In other words, you might be wondering, “Is my lot in life to experience peace, have it disappear, then hope it returns at some point in the future?”
Inner peace is always, always, always possible. It is what is here and available when everything else falls away. What disturbs our sense of peace is the belief that what is actually happening should be different. We believe that the emotion we are experiencing or the life circumstance that is present is somehow wrong. We want to dismiss it, deny it, and have it dissipate entirely. I call this resistance, and it is a description of the inner war.
Living in peace is not about having the right situations or people or reactions in our lives. It is about this, reality as it is, the now, presence. Any manipulations of the mind interfere with peace. When we interpret, justify, explain, analyze, fantasize, engage in wishful thinking about what is happening, we are resisting it. When we let go of the functions of the mind, we can see things as they are.
Very Important Point #1
There is nothing inherently disturbing about an emotion, a thought, a physical sensation – anything we experience. The trouble comes when we think it shouldn’t be as it is. If what you want is for your unpleasant experiences to disappear, you are resisting them.
When someone says, “I tried it, and it didn’t work,” what I hear is a person who is expecting their uncomfortable experiences to disappear. “Didn’t work” means they don’t feel better.
The essential question is: Do you want to feel better or do you want to know the truth? If you want to feel better by banishing the unpleasant experiences, this resistance only empowers them. They lose their charge only when you welcome them in as is without wanting them to change.
This includes resistance. If resistance is present, resistance is what is here to be welcomed. (Hint: See if fear is the force behind it.)
The tricky part is: when you truly accept your experience as is, you very well might feel better. But you feel better not because you wanted the challenging experiences to go away. You feel better because you stopped resisting them and welcomed them in unconditionally.
When you become this comfortable with any experience that arises, anything can happen, and you are at peace with it. See how it works?
Peace is Ordinary
Perhaps you have tasted the experience of deep peace. A few months ago, I wrote an article on The Change Blog called, “You Are Already Whole,” in which I described how these unexpected moments of peace appear in our daily lives. Maybe you will recognize these:
- Being caught up in the flow of an enjoyable experience
- Laughing uncontrollably
- At the moment of orgasm
- A second or two of happiness that wells up from nowhere
- A feeling of peace or bliss when in nature.
Peace is here, available, even ordinary. When we meet all our experiences in love and acceptance, everything they once fueled loses steam. The dramas fed by self-righteousness dissolve; the worry and self-doubt fed by fear no longer have a leg to stand on. When jealousy, loneliness, rage are all seen fully as is, the stories they support crumble.
What remains is the unnameable – consciousness, peace, happiness, expansiveness, love. It is that which exists prior to any emotional triggers, worries, or irritating habits. It is aware, alive, fresh, and undisturbed…so close it can’t be seen or thought about. It is revealed to be who you are.
Very Important Point #2
Peace is discovered only in the moment. The question is: am I at peace with what is in this moment? This is such great news, as peace is always possible. If you notice yourself resisting, let it go, shift to acceptance, and you have arrived home to the natural state of peace once again.
Being open to all of our experiences and welcoming them as is is not a strategy to try once or twice and give up. It is being with the ongoing flow of life…it is life itself. Reality is flowing, whether we resist it or not.
When we are fed up with the failure of our strategies and finished with trying to control the uncontrollable, we are ready for the truth. Facing the seemingly unfaceable, over and over with whatever arises, is where peace is discovered.
Once the goal of feeling better is put to rest (see VIP #1), any experiences, challenging or otherwise, are free to come, stay, or go. Our happiness – or peace – does not depend on them. We are willing to be with whatever arises as it is. When the trying falls away, being open and real with what is happening in the moment is a way of life. We live in nonresistance…in reality…in peace. We know when we are resisting because we are triggered or emotional. When we meet these experiences in tenderness, we realize freedom once again.
Very Important Point #3
Peace doesn’t look any particular way. It doesn’t mean we no longer have problems or that challenging situations never arise. It doesn’t mean that we never again get annoyed or frustrated or sad. It just means that we don’t get involved in our reactions; we accept them simply by saying, with interest and friendliness, “Oh, this.”
When we are committed to knowing the truth of our experience, we make the space to be aware of what arises, and we study it with the most loving eyes. What happens next cannot be planned or predicted. The flow of life continues…
Very Important Point #4
In actuality, there are not two. There is no you separate from the experience you are welcoming. See if this is true for you. What you will find is awareness being aware of an experience; that is all. Bring your attention to the awareness, to that space in you that is perceiving the experience, and the experience is simply present. The words I often use – welcoming, accepting, meeting – are the best words we have to describe this process, but they don’t capture it exactly. What actually happens is an effortless, benevolent noticing of what is arising. You don’t need to reach out to meet any feelings or reactions. Simply be still in awareness and the experience is as it is. No doing, just being: present, awake, aware.
Eternal peace is possible. Reality is fresh and alive. Know yourself, and you are free…living in peace, as peace.