Peace is an enlightened state of being, which is why it’s so hard to achieve! Most of us have only traveled so far on the spiritual path and many of us are just beginning. The truth is, peace isn’t just THE way, it’s the ONLY way. But as a human beings, we are constantly bumping up against things, relationships and situations that take us out of our peace. This is just the way life is and why achieving deep, inner peace takes so much work.
You Are Not Alone
The first step lies in knowing that your are not alone. It’s hard for everyone to achieve peace. Within the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha teaches us that the whole of human existence is suffering, or dukkha. The inherent nature of a human life is steeped in the energy of struggle–the opposite of peace. When we understand this, we can give ourselves a break in our quest for peace. It’s simply not an easy task. (Read more about The Roots of Suffering.)
The nature of our mind is to try to control everything. This is part of the problem. Rather than surrendering to the Divine, we tend to want to hold onto things, people and situations or, alternatively, push them away. We label things as good or bad, rather than seeing them as being just the way they are. If we could learn to surrender, accept everything in the path and love what is, peace would come easily.
The cool thing is that on the path to achieving peace, WE are the solution. We are the cause of our suffering and we’re also the cause of our peace. When we learn the art of non-attachment–the ability to stop clinging and grasping onto everything–we will achieve deep peace.
Go With the Flow
Both yoga and Buddhism teach us that nothing in the material world will ever give us deep fulfillment. Everything is impermanent. It’s constantly changing, as are our desires, thoughts, likes and dislikes. If we can learn to flow with this impermanence, and surrender to it just like the Tao Te Ching teaches, we will achieve peace. (Learn more about impermanence in The Message of the Gurus.)
When we refer to peace, we’re always referring to peace of mind and body. Everything happens in the mind, and the body reads the messages coming from the mind. Ultimately, we cultivate our mental peace muscle through meditation, surrender, acceptance, and unconditional love and compassion for ourselves, for others and everything in life. It’s a big undertaking, but peace is our essential nature. It’s covered up by our ego, our life experiences and past traumas, and all the distractions of modern life.
Learn to Slow Down
One reason we meditate is to slow down. We live in a fast-paced society. Going fast in every way is what’s celebrated, which makes it hard to be at peace. Sometimes it feels like life is coming at us so fast we can hardly think straight. Thank goodness meditation helps us slow down to a point where we become so internally still that it doesn’t matter so much what’s happening in our external world. As we quiet and still the mind, life around us begins to move at a slower, more peaceful pace. In fact, we can experience modern city life in a peaceful way when our minds perceive it as that. So, we meditate (a lot) in order to achieve peace of mind.
To cultivate inner peace, we also need to practice solitude. We need to spend time with ourselves, getting to know our true nature, and we can do this by spending time alone in nature. Mother Nature is the ultimate nurturer. She nourishes us with plants, sunlight, moonlight, flowers and magnificent abundance. Consider how renewed you feel as you walk along a beach or hike through meadows of wildflowers while being blanketed in soft sunlight. Nature helps us slow down, quiet our mind and open up to the present moment. (Read more in The Joys of Unplugging.)
This present moment awareness is key in achieving peace and, once again, it all happens in the mind. It’s the mind’s tendency to think about memories of the past or project into fantasies of the future. Again, that’s just the way it works. So, we cultivate present moment awareness because, in reality, that’s all there is. Life is happening in the now, and while sometimes what’s happening in the now really is unpleasant, most of the time you are safe in the now. Most of the time it’s just the mind’s meanderings that tell you the present moment isn’t peaceful, when in reality it usually is. Take a long walk in nature every, single day and let her teach you what it feels like to be fully present and at peace. (Read on in 6 Techniques to Staying Present.)