The beauty of being a meditation teacher lies in the sporadic, inquisitive questions from advice seekers. These beautiful questions are posed by those aiming to live a mindful life. Mindfulness, in conjunction with awareness, are tools for staying grounded during our daily routine. Recently, I was approached with a question that begged for a mindfulness-based response:
The question asked: “How do I cultivate inner peace to touch my outer world?”
Listening to this advice-seekers’ plea summoned a plethora of thoughts. I receive questions about inner peace on a regular basis. I believe the budding “inner peace curiosity” from others is the product of our world’s current events. For many, the outer world is an eccentric type of organized chaos. As human beings, we are overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overstressed by just being alive. Our outside influencers have a grip on thought patterns and personal expectations. Thus, we find ourselves being a prisoner to the opinions of our peers. In a world that is being marred by constant disruption, where is “rest and reset” for peace seekers?
The “rest and reset” for inner peace lies in accepting the vicissitudes of life’s ebb and flow.
The first step towards cultivating inner peace is being at peace with the chaos in front of you. The mindset of outward acceptance is a tool for getting through difficult situations. Outward acceptance is fully accepting everything, as it appears, in the present moment. Outward acceptance also partakes in consciously deciding which events effect your internal wellbeing. For example, let’s say someone is having an aggressive conversation and the other party is being insulting. We have two choices in the moment: The first is to internally “ingest” the words being verbally tossed in our direction. We can choose to pull words inward and absorb their toxicity into our heart. The result almost always renders low self-confidence and self-worth due to the other person’s actions. The second is to acknowledge their expression of anger and bring outside awareness to their pain. Recognizing their actions as the result of their own inner unhappiness removes thoughts of self-blame. The people who are deeply unhappy with their lives enjoy sharing misery with anyone willing to listen. In this moment, it is best to acknowledge their words, internally wish them well, and detach from their difficult demeanor. The transition from harshness to humility is the act of bringing peace to an unpeaceful situation.
The second step towards cultivating inner peace is to see peace in everything. Peaceful moments are created by the mind’s ability to seek out positive reminders. In meditation teacher training, I became educated on the healing benefits of Gathas. Gathas are short verses and mindful reminders to focus on the current moment. I use Gathas during my morning routine and as a gentle reminder during stressful situations. One of my favorite Gathas states; “Entering the garden, I see my true reflection. In the garden, I am at peace.” The garden is a metaphorical term for my morning ritual. As I enter into my “morning”, I see myself in everything during my routine. I see myself making tea, cooking breakfast and during my meditation. I see myself connected to every movement as it unfolds before my eyes. If I am at peace in these moments, then I am at peace with my life. To me, Gathas make little moments a time for pure focus. Above all, Gathas mold you into a peace seeker during your mundane routine.
Difficult situations will always remain in our blind spot towards personal enlightenment. If we choose to accept the vicissitudes of life’s events with grace, then we awaken our inner seeker of peace. Acknowledging our oneness in everything, even personal difficulties, is the first step towards mindful living. The present moment will contain happiness, sadness, and a mixture of both sides. To rest and reset, we have to find peace on both ends.