Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown
Like many people, I lived my life for a lot of years failing to understand inner peace is a choice. I am not sure what I thought. Perhaps I didn’t believe anyone could feel a lasting peace inside. I did know that my own feelings of peace were always transitory.
There were many ups and downs in my life, too many claims on my time and too many difficult situations to be dealt with. I think I actually believed inner peace could only be achieved by monks and saints, or anyone living a reclusive life who didn’t have to deal with everyday struggles.
I was stuck in a world of confusion, wondering how peace could be mine when there was always something, some drama going on in my own life or the lives of those I loved.
In fact, it seemed to me that the whole world was filled with stuff, negative stuff mostly, which I read about in the newspaper, saw on the television, or heard from someone I knew.
It was the kind of stuff that pulls at your emotions—the breaking news story of a missing woman being found murdered, the tragedy of a child being killed by a hit and run driver, the numbers of homeless people tripling, and a devastating Tsunami killing thousands and paralyzing a country.
Then there were the stories closer to home—my friend’s husband being diagnosed with cancer and dying three months later, my father suffering from dementia, my best friend’s marriage falling apart—all tearing at my heart and leaving me hurt and grieving.
In my own personal life too, my emotions dipped and peaked along with how much control I felt I had over my own happiness. I literally felt like a puppet on a string, and asked myself over and over again, “How can I feel a constant inner peace in my heart and life when my emotions see-saw up and down according to what is happening in and around me?”
Looking back I know I believed that my emotions were important. After all, wasn’t being emotional an essential part of being alive? Emotions made me feel real and allowed me to extend empathy to everyone else.
But in the deepest part of myself, I did not feel good most of the time. I longed to not be so emotional. I wanted to be released from all the conflict in my life—to not react to other people’s words and anger, to feel serenity in my heart.
It was an almost desperate need to alter or to stop the negative cycle of events which seemed to dominate my relationships and my life.
I believe it was that intention which kept on surfacing in my mind and in my heart that fueled my spiritual search and led me to discover a more peaceful way to live, despite the conflict in my life.
I know that as the months and years went on I became more determined to change the way I was living.
It was a few years ago now—I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened—when I finally felt a peace inside that did not come and go along with my emotions or the drama in my life. I know it was the culmination of making a lot of changes, including…
Believing I am Loved
Understanding that negative childhood imprinting leads to feeling unloved and having low self-esteem, I looked for and found the truth about myself. It was not what I had been led to believe was true!
Believing we are loved comes with knowing who we are, not judging ourselves or others for mistakes we make, and from daily meditation in which we feel the unconditional love of something greater than ourselves.
Monitoring and Changing My Thoughts
I once believed I had no control over what I was thinking, because I never considered the idea that thoughts can be changed. Then I started focusing on my thoughts and realized much of what I was thinking did not reflect the way I truly felt.
Just by paying attention to them, we see that many thoughts are primarily fear-based and judgmental.
And, because they come and go unchallenged, most of us struggle through life unconsciously accepting that we are our thoughts. We simply do not look at or challenge them as they appear and disappear. By accepting them, we give them permission to shape our beliefs about ourselves and our lives.
Once you start recognizing them, you can go about changing your thoughts. Through observing how your thoughts differ from the way you really feel, you can choose to place a different thought in your mind, which more accurately reflects the way you feel.
Coming from Loving-Kindness and Living from My Higher Self
By noticing and appreciating other people’s kindness, we become aware how much it really matters in daily living. In dealing with difficult telephone calls, perhaps an angry person on the other end of the line, we can choose to be kind.
When a friend asks us to help with something, we can decide on the kindest thing to say or do.
If someone asks for a donation for the umpteenth time, we can deal with the request kindly. Obviously, there are times we cannot give whatever is being asked of us; when we do not have the means or desire to agree to a certain request. In these circumstances, saying no with kindness is the best choice.
Sometimes kindly refusing to provide assistance is important in helping promote personal growth in others and allows them to learn some important life lessons.
If someone is gossiping about someone we know, we can be silently kind, refusing to be drawn into the conversation. By choosing kindness, we allow positive energy to flow from us to others and prevent negative energy from reaching us or infusing situations. In this way, we create and maintain a connection to our higher selves. And, realize just how good it feels to be kind.
Bringing the Practice of Acceptance into Daily Life
Perhaps the key to feeling real peace is being able to accept what is. Acceptance simply means recognizing your ego’s voice and rejecting it. Knowing that the only person we can change is ourselves enables us to do this.
As soon as we start to think there is something not right, not the way it should be, or we become judgmental about a situation or a person—their words or behavior—we know we have moved away from accepting what is, by wanting to control what is outside of us.
There is a lot of negative energy and craziness in this world, but we can all learn to live with inner peace.
If your intention is strong and comes from the deepest part of you, it will happen. Outwardly, nothing changes; peace comes from making changes inside you.
It begins and continues through becoming more aware of who you really are, knowing you are loved, making changes in the way you think, practicing loving-kindness, and accepting what is.
As serenity and unconditional love fill your heart, you will accept that you cannot go back, and will not relinquish what you have now found, that peace that you seem to have been searching for your whole life.
Finally, you will come to this—deep inner peace inside you that endures, regardless of what challenges life brings.
What is inner peace?The Taoist answer is: Self Acceptance.
Inner Peace can be as simple as letting go, and resting under the shade of an old tree.
The path taken to find inner peace is as hard or simple as a person makes the journey of self acceptance to be.
A Taoist will embrace inner peace by always taking the moment to be present in their life.
I received this question the other day: The full text of the question goes as:
I have no idea how to go about resolving the constant questions that go through my head! Asking these questions just makes my life miserable as it always leads to no answers over and over again.
I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel all I see is more questions! Is it possible for people like me to find inner peace?
Everyone can find inner peace. The path is through acceptance. However, countless paths for finding acceptance exist. Some seekers take a longer path than others as they work out to resolve personal inner conflicts within their life. So the answer requires two parts. It first is important to understand the nature of questions. Then we will teach how Taoism helps a person find acceptance.
The Nature of Questions
Countless practices and systems of belief exist to help people find answers. The challenge is finding a practice or system that matches to your nature.
For example: Zen practice teaches a person to just keep asking questions and then more questions until the mind literally says enough is enough and the mind just lets go. Of course Zen then takes this a step further and you ask a few more questions just to be sure you mind has learned to be empty of questions.
In Taoism you learn everything is relative. This means most answers are not worth chasing. So you let go of the questions to skip straight into acceptance.
In fact, Taoism takes this a step further to teach many questions don’t have a “larger” answer at all, that in fact the only answer possible is that you yourself are the answer. In other words, a Taoist reaches the point of acceptance where you, “as you are” literally becomes the answer for a majority of the questions you face…
In Taoism, questions fall into two categories: Outer Truth and Inner Truth. Questions that fall in the zone of Outer truth are questions that could be consider universal in nature. For example : What is Red? Red is a color… pretty clear cut right? Nope.
Since many questions end up being relative:
For instance What is Red? Well depending on how you perceive the world, Red can mean something different. So to someone who is color blind their RED may not be the same as your RED.
So questions which are dependent on your nature fall into the category of Inner Truth.
Even more confusing: questions could have different answers depending if you are trying to answer relative to an Outer Truth or Inner Truth such as the “What is Red?” question illustrates. So when considering this: it isn’t hard for a person to get stuck in endless loops chasing questions and semantics. A Taoist knows that answers are infinite. A person can spend an entire lifetime chasing answers only to left still chasing after more.
A problem is many people try to force questions which are Inner Truth in nature as if they were only Outer Truth based issues.
This is the root reason for religions causing so many problems: trying to force a personal answer as an universal truth upon others. A perfect example was the question I answered the other day about Taoism’s View on Homosexuality.
So back to the question about finding inner peace.
Taoism teaches this:
If you are too busy holding on to the past or chasing the future:
it’s hard to take the time to then see yourself clearly now.
A strange thing happens at this point… A person discovers all the internal fractures once considered to be flaws and weaknesses… are actually beautiful… That in the light of living now… all aspects of our life makes us what we are… and that is wonderful. In living now… all futures are possible: opening up new “Possibilties” of 10,000 dreams where each one is valid… and it’s fun to play about, to flow as life weaves together into something unexpected…. Because it’s always possible to accept who you are now. Inner Peace opens up as a person releases into their own nature.
- Is it an easy path to let go of the past?No… since being able to remember the past always gives strength to avoid issues.
- Is it an easy path to stop holding onto the futureNo… since it’s by planning and slowly building with a good plan that humans have built so many marvelous wonders.
- Is it easy to accept oneself?No … not when so much strength can be gained through community: and in turn we are taught to base personal acceptance upon other viewpoints over our own personal values.Initially as a Taoist you learn to let go of everything in order to see oneself clearly and to embrace oneself as is. In time acceptance comes at the point of relaxing into oneself.Later in this process a Taoist mixes together all aspects of themselves… to truly live as oneself… this means being fully human. In harmony with the past and future to now.
Living with a Taoist outlook doesn’t mean to stop being yourself…
- It simply means to not hold former shapes of the past.
- It simply means to stop limiting yourself to expectations for the future.
- It simply means to accept yourself now… honestly upon your own terms.