photo by Lon Levin
One of the most peaceful places I’ve ever lived in is Big Bear especially at this time of year. When I lived there I enjoyed the solitude and the beauty of nature that surrounded me. It healed me in ways I cannot explain. I often look at pictures like this one I took up there to remind me of the serenity your surroundings can bring you. This is my lead in to Mark Susnow’s wonderful message about finding peace in your life.
FINDING PEACE IN A CHANGING WORLD
In the work that I do, I’m frequently asked what advice I have for those who are facing difficulties in their life.
We would all agree that life is changing more rapidly than ever before. Many of us are affected by the changing dynamics of the economy. Others are affected by the every day imperfections of life; their careers, their relationships, their health and what isn’t working in their life that captures their attention.
The bigger question is what enables some to keep smiling in the face of this adversity, while others are sapped of their joy and serenity.
The mind is fickle. There is always going to be something that captures the mind’s attention whether we want it to, or not. It could be a headline, a story about someone we know, or about what happened to us during our day. Quite often we don’t know what that trigger is before it occurs. To say it another way: Our mind has a mind of its own.
There is that thing-the circumstance in our life, which we believe prevents us from being happy. You know that thing. We all do. It more than bothers us-quite often we’re obsessed with it. We’ll put our experience of joy on hold until the current concern is resolved. Who knows how long that will be? It could be a lifetime. Usually there is a resolution to the problem or we’ll figure out a solution. Or maybe even the other person will change. And then we’ll be happy again-well maybe not happy, but at least we won’t be as stressed. It is this pattern that I see repeated over and over again.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Although we might have a temporary reprieve from the recurring stress, it’s only a matter of time until the next thing occurs that bothers us. Let’s explore these tendencies by traveling back in time and discover what our history tells us.
Take a moment to reflect upon what you consider to be your biggest concern. Prior to this concern, what were you most concerned about. If you keep exploring this line of thinking, you’ll notice that you can go on for quite a while. It works in the other direction also. When you travel into the future with the same frame of mind, you’ll only see a wall of worry.
So what am I getting at? Even though life is and always has been changing, the nature and source of our concerns doesn’t change much. There has been and always will be something that concerns us. That’s the way life is. On the path of awakening, we discover that we’re human, not machines that are suppose to be infallible. While finding solutions is important, the exploration needs to shift from trying to avoid these problems to embracing them as opportunities. We also discover that even in the middle of the storm, we can experience that moment of stillness and clarity. We learn how to be and know what we have to do.
Not only are there external shifts in our thinking, there are internal shifts in our perception of reality. These shifts occur simultaneously. There is the external shift of how we see ourselves in the world.Most of us identity with what we do in the world and or from the circumstances of our life. Think about how you sign your name or what you say to describe yourself. Are there initials after your name? Is there a description of what you do, or whom you do it for? It takes a while to come to the realization that we are much more than the labels we use to describe ourselves, and that we are much more than the circumstances we let define our lives.
If you have been a reader of Letters of Life for a while you know I was a trial lawyer for many years. My awareness of my true essence began when I started to meditate which was when I was in my twenties. I began to experience moments of peace and tranquility in the least likely of places. It could be in a courtroom. It could be in the midst of a stadium at a sporting event full of thousands of people.
As you cultivate a spiritual practice, you’ll be able to shift your focus from the concerns of your daily life to the present moment, where you experience what I call “moments of grace.” These “moments of grace” are just the beginning. With consistent discipline, they become a sanctuary from the concerns of the world.
How you get to and discover this sanctuary is a unique experience, for each of us, that continues to evolve. Since I have written about this in other articles, I’ll only say a few things here. A word that I like to use this feeling is transcendence. We transcend our concept of ordinary reality. Our mind takes a holiday. Athletes experience it as being in the zone. Dancers and musicians become one with the rhythm. Runners feel it when the endorphins kick in. For many, including myself, writing has become a great way of tapping into this stillness. We can’t always get there. But when we do, it is a “moment of grace.”