Inner Peace Is Not An Escape From the World. It's How You Become More Present Than Ever.
A popular phrase, “Take me away”, is the title of more songs than I can count. This phrase is even used to sell bubble bath! It seems as though faced with the stress and suffering in our world, we all desire to escape to an idealistic place. Yet, I have found that inner peace does not happen through escape. Instead, it is here and now, waiting for us to touch it in this very moment.
Before I traveled to the North Pole and just after I finished my university degree, I had the great privilege of living for a year in India. In the online video series “Our Superpower”, I have been sharing teasers for my upcoming book about how you can co-create with nature for an amazing life. One of my recent posts was about how I traveled to India to deepen my understanding of nature. I was looking to find greater connection with myself, others and the world through yoga and meditation.
However, I soon discovered that no physical distance could remove me from my self. I had brought all the intensity of my stressed-out-college-student, new-to-the-workplace attitude with me. Inescapably, I approached my yoga and meditation practice with the same driven determination to reach excellence as I had brought to everything else in my life. This misguided zeal unfortunately brought with it severe health problems, culminating in a life-changing near death experience. The universe was showing me in no uncertain terms that I needed to learn to live with earnest humility and practical groundedness in order to evolve and truly serve. After all, self-love and self-respect are the foundations to inner peace, so that I may love and respect the world.
Wherever You Go, There You Are
I realized during that year that it is impossible to cultivate inner peace with an attitude of stress, willfulness, or drivenness. Those only block the possibilities available to us in each moment. Einstein said it perfectly: “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” We experience a lack of inner peace because we feel disconnected, which causes us stress. Trying to connect from a place of feeling disconnected, then stressing about it, will not bring us any closer to peace. Like being stuck in an eddy on the edges of a great body of water, repeated thoughts whirl around our minds as we worry that we cannot flow with life. Caught up in our internal chatter, we have lost sight of how we are already within the majestic oceans of being that we seek.
“Wherever you go, there you are,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. We may run from situations we find challenging. We may try to avoid them. But, as I learned in India, no matter where we are physically, we bring our total selves with us.
You don’t need to go off and become a hermit, take an extended holiday or be without action, in order to experience a peaceful life. Those may help you bring awareness to the painful habits that pull you away from inner peace. But ultimately, peacefulness is a reflection of what you choose in every moment, whether you live in an apartment in a busy city or in a monastery on a distant mountain top. It is through meeting what is with openness, alertness and ease, that you find your inner peace sanctuary.
Practice Inner Peace Now
As you move through the week ahead, see if you can meet the moment by tuning into its underlying stillness and quiet. No matter how busy, even hectic your life may be, that peaceful place is there. Open to it. By engaging with noise, you end up feeling agitated. But by choosing to focus on the quiet underneath it all, you become still. In that stillness, you will discover greater possibilities, and feel refreshed and energized. Peace within is your home. Go there.
From my heart to yours,
PS: Inner peace is the foundation of a peaceful world. Please sign and share the MAPS (Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary) petition today.