Peace of Mind
Many years ago, I wrote an article describing “brain static” which articulated a felt sense of discomfort connected to all the physical and emotional attachments in my life. This
included everything from the mundane to the mandatory. The realization hit me that there was no freedom in possession as long as I was the “possessed.” Each attachment came with an obligation to maintain and the maintenance equated to just another thing to worry about. At that time, the
obvious solution to quell internal noise was to get rid of all the things I was attached to. Thus began a process of purging in order to simplify life. While simplification resulted in more clarity of purpose, the brain static did not entirely dissipate. Now, with more than a decade of practice under my belt, peace of mind has taken on a new life. The only thing that disturbs peace of mind are stories; just a collection of transient thoughts. Learn to tame the thoughts and you have a chance at peace.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a spiritual leader and a peace activist. Through mindfulness meditation, he teaches that there is no peace to be found by dwelling on the past or trying to predict the future. The mindfulness path to peace is about learning to yield to the present moment and to cultivate a sense of compassion for what is. You might observe the stories, feelings and emotions but you don’t have to get caught up in them. With awareness, comes choice; we often have no control over external events in our lives but we can control how we react to them. Therein lies the path to peace.
While Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and trainings are rooted in Buddhism, the mindfulness practice is a meditation available to secular and non secular alike. It is a method of training the mind that has made its way into mainstream culture and clinical practice. Mindfulness practice is not just something you take time out of your busy life to do, it is an awareness you bring to each moment of your “doing” as you go about your day.
If you would like to cultivate more peace in your life, the following exercises can help you become more mindful:
1. Focus. Anything can be used as an object of meditation but a useful starting point is with the breath. Give 100%
attention to the in breath and then 100% attention to the out breath as they occur naturally. You can even say “in breath” “out breath”.
2. Concentrate. Stay with the cycle of breathing from beginning to end. When thoughts interrupt the flow just begin again. With practice it will become effortless and your ability to concentrate will improve greatly. Think of concentration as a muscle that will grow stronger with exercise.
3. Awareness. As you are breathing, become aware of your body. Rather than keep a shallow focus on the breath, follow the cycle as it enters the nose, windpipe, lungs and belly. Feel the expansion, the contraction, the coolness or the warmth. Much of our lives are spent with awareness focussed outside of ourselves. In essence, let the experience of breathing bring you home.
4. Relax. Do not force the breath. As you come into your body, become aware of where you are holding tension and release it. You may discover areas where there is an automated holding pattern of stress that has accumulated over time. Tension creates pain. Breathe compassion into the
tension and let it go. You might even say to yourself “Breathing out, I release this tension” or visualize the tension leaving on the out breath.
5. Practice, practice, practice. In the beginning, commit to a daily practice for whatever time period that feels right for you. While there is benefit to sitting through resistance, if your goal is too outrageous, you will likely resist the whole process and this is of no benefit. Set up a quiet space where you are comfortable and not going to be disturbed when you practice. Eventually you will be able to take mindfulness with you throughout your day.
Mindfulness is a compassionate practice rooted in love. When fear hijacks the moment, we have to accept that as well. But, we don’t have to reside in it. Peace of mind is a choice we can make moment by moment as we surrender to what is and let go of how it was supposed to be. If we all give inner peace a chance, the whole world will benefit greatly.
Good Health to You
Darlene Booth, R.H.N., B.S.W. The health articles are for the general information of the reader. While effort is made to reflect accepted medical practice and knowledge, articles should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specific medical concern or problem and Peoples Drug Mart accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and medical care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. Opinions expressed in sponsored articles by,Medi-Rosource, Dr. Art Hister, Ian Lloyd, and Darlene Booth are editorials and are not necessarily shared by Peoples Drug Mart stores or Peoples Drug Mart (B.C.) Ltd.