Simmering On the Ever-Elusive Quest for Inner Peace

Cultivating a peaceful environment -- workspace at Popoyo beach

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” -- Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

It's a huge subject, probably thousands of books have been written on it, and yet few people are able to cultivate a lasting inner peace. Myself I tend to rubberband between a self-aligned sense of total peace, and other intense feelings -- notably sadness, disquiet, ecstatic joy, love, vulnerability, and sometimes a sense of invincibility. But what about that ever-elusive state of continuous inner peace...?

I don't know that I want to be forever at peace with everything -- I love the richness of the vast human emotional experience --- but lately I've been feeling so shaken up by life and love that I'm craving more peace. And this is one quest I've been on for at least 15 years.

Last week I spoke about throwing your dream ahead of you and walking into it and taking purposeful "mini missions" as practices for a richer life. These are really about finding the magic in life: Creating your own excitement; discovering your own meaning; setting yourself up for moments of serendipity. Without a rooted sense of inner peace, though, it's easy to get thrown off the trail and lose your way.

These are a few of my most cherished current practices for cultivating inner peace...

  • Daily breathwork and meditation practice. I've fluctuated a lot with this over the years since discovering that all of life can be a meditation, but it really helps to have a specific regular practice to jump off from and fall back to. A good meditation practice -- one that actually works for you -- is the best way I've found for connecting with an unlimited fountain of inner peace. It doesn't have to be complicated though! Ten minutes in a chair after breakfast can be enough to get you in a really sweet place for the rest of the day. Breathwork is also great for clearing energy and preparing you for a silent meditation -- for more on the breathwork healing I do see I've recently started a regular daily meditation practice again, and the difference is huge.
  • Reading really good books. If a book is written from a really high place it can impart a profound inner peace and transformation simply through reading. But you have to find the right book for where you are at that time. I love it when a book just jumps out at you from a bookstore shelf and you know you have to read it. It's how I found the current book I'm reading, Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential, by Michael Beckwith. It's so rich I can only read it in small doses, which is just fine by me. I usually read one short chapter at a time, slowly soaking it in, and re-read the parts that really click with me, sitting and meditating on those.
  • Peering into the mind and finding what's unsettling there. At any given time there may be a bunch of subconscious thought-forms, beliefs and negative outlooks on life and work that leave me feeling unsettled. Once the biggies are spotted I can gradually unwind and reconfigure them one at a time. I do this by finding what's definitely false in the thought or emotion and turning that around -- writing through it, seeing the truth, and meditating on it. It really helps to go back to the discovery and continue the reconstructive thinking process over a couple weeks until the shift is more permanently strengthened.
  • Practicing Trust. This is a really key piece, and one of the hardest to pull off well. I'm able to trust in the universe, because I feel that I'm in alignment with my life mission, and I'm dedicated to spreading more peace and good in the world. How can that not be supported...? If I get contracted and start worrying about the details of life -- especially regarding money and survival -- then I can easily become hyper-critical about reality. If that starts to happen I try and make a decision to shift my outlook to trust. It takes a small leap of faith, but it's always a good feeling when I land there. Trust is a great balm for the soul, but you really have to find your own way to it.
  • Choosing to freely share love and generosity. This is a simple little switch I make regularly -- a conscious decision to shift away from a contracted, critical view of the world to a generous and open state of mind. When you really make the commitment to live this way, doors of opportunity tend to open and life becomes a lot more fluid. Dropping into the space of pure love is a wonderful practice in itself, and opening your heart to the people around you and choosing to share abundant peace and happiness inevitably sends it back also. Ahh love, you wonderful and crazy thing -- you drive me into the deepest bliss and the greatest madness. I would not have it any other way...

A few great quotes on finding peace:

One of my all time favorites:

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” -- Thich Nhat Hanh

Wisdom of the earthkeepers:

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us." -- Black Elk

Unrefutable wisdom:

"If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world." -- Thomas Merton

The essence:

"If you scramble about in search of inner peace, you will lose your inner peace." -- Lao Tzu

In the end:

"You cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in we can take it, what we do with it...and that is what really counts in the end." -- Joseph Fort Newton


"A smile is the beginning of peace." -- Mother Teresa

OK -- so what are some of your favorite practices, thoughts or quotes that are helpful for cultivating a sense of inner peace for you? Would love to hear -- feel free to share here at Google+

Love and peace be with you,

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