I remember reading somewhere that our default state is peace. If we are not at peace in this moment, what the fuck is up? Mind you—I’m not talking about peace that is at odds with the waves of thought and emotion that roll in any given day of this human existence. We naturally experience anger, we worry, we become sad, we feel the pain of trauma. But, underlying all that commotion, there is quietude and stillness. My attitude towards my own difficult emotions and thoughts has been greatly transformed by using inner peace as a guide and as a compass. A few guiding questions will help me navigate my days, whether they are sunny or stormy. “Am I at peace in this moment?” If so, well and good, let me further suffuse in it without grasping or hanging on. Often, though, the answer may be “no, I am not at peace in this moment.” Ahhhhh! First, simply acknowledging that we are not at our center is itself the beginnings of a healing balm. But then, a series of gentle self-inquiries begin the true healing journey of that day. This journey traverses the different layers of my being, from the mundane to the nondual, only to find the way back home to peace.
When uncovering the reasons for our disconnect from our tranquil home base, we can start at the worldly, at the physical and bodily. Often, I find that the source of existential discontent reveals itself there at the outermost layer of the self. I am sure you have found yourself annoyed by dread that is generic, non-specific, but heavy and burdensome just the same. Before jumping to conclusions such as “my life is going in the wrong direction”, “something terrible is around the corner”, and so forth, the reason why you may be disconnected from your inner peace may be quite less dramatic—even silly.
We start with scanning the body. Does my body need water? Am I tired, overstimulated, overcaffeinated, under exercised? Often, the answer to our inquiry lies at this first gate. In this incarnation, we exist as physical beings, and if the body is out of alignment with its needs, you bet that your inner contentment will be threatened as well. But today my focus is on the next layer of being: the mind and its myriad entanglements with the world. Here is where I most often encounter a knot that, once undone, frees me from anger or fear and allows me to bask in my true, original state in the ocean of peace.
And I am not necessarily talking about anything sophisticated here. Even the littlest things find a way, in the mind, to echo and reverberate to outsized proportions. Maybe you keep putting off sitting down and going over your bills and finances. Maybe there is an old, important text you haven’t replied to. Perhaps you really need to schedule that doctor’s appointment or finish that task. You catch my drift: in the brain, created to keep us on alert, even mundane thoughts and responsibilities, if left undealt with, slip under the radar of consciousness and contribute to an ever-growing web of anxieties and fears that cause you to completely forget the peaceful being that you really are.
It is no surprise that some authors, such as Buddhist writers, will tell you that on the path of awakening, your world becomes more orderly. You start to be bothered by messiness, if you weren’t already the type. As the Sun shines bright in your head, you naturally want to bring harmony to the many aspects of your life. In this sense, lack of peace on any given day is a guide and a teacher, pointing the way to that which may be serving as a blockage to fullness. You do not have to fix everything to start the walk back home to harmony, all you need is to commit to a direction.
It can be simple as writing a little list of tasks; or sending one reply to someone who awaits you; or making one appointment. As you reorient yourself towards harmony in your mind and in its dealings with the rest of manifest reality; you reconnect with your original, peaceful, joyous self. Enjoy it, be one with it, while knowing this may not be the end of the journey. You can go much deeper than the mind: into your spirit, into your soul, and eventually into your nondual self that is indistinguishable from the rest of existence. Here in these deeper realms, our inquiries resume. Am I fearful for my soul’s destiny? Am I not completely at ease with impermanence and death? Do I still fundamentally see myself as a separate entity? But those are questions for another day. Today, I invite you to practice checking in with your state of peace and studying your body-mind to find your teachers and guides who, if listened to, will show you the way back to stillness, equanimity, and quiet joy. Your teacher may be an unpaid bill. Your guide may be an unread email. I trust you will find them. Be well.