I remember my belief and conditioning as a child was: ‘I must pass all my exams with a top grade’.
That was a very stressful conditioning to have!
I was scared of failing.
I had to pass.
Because I thought failing made me a failure.
But the year I discovered mindfulness and meditation was the year I let that fear go.
I saw the conditioning and let it go.
I asked myself ‘What happens if I fail these exams?’
Well, I’d probably have to just retake them.
Or I could just do something else instead.
Suddenly I felt free...and still a bit scared too. :)
I was in the third year of my degree in Chemical Engineering.
And I didn’t study at all!
I spent most of my time either reading, meditating or playing cricket.
I was scared to go into the exam hall, but I did it.
And somehow just managed to just about pass that year.
After that, I did revise for exams in the future, but with far less fear of failure.
So, what are you holding onto?
What are you scared of letting go of?
What is preventing you from being at peace?
I rarely meet deeply peaceful people.
But when I do, it’s like finding a sparkling diamond in mud.
In other words, people deeply at peace with themselves really stand out.
Being with them makes me feel peaceful too.
And that peace is both pleasurable and healing.
Their inner peace gives me permission to be at peace too.
So, how can you discover how to be at peace with yourself?
Let’s explore some ways together today.
Recognise Your Level of Peace
Begin with where you are.
How much are you at peace with yourself right now?
It’s not a black-or-white thing.
You can rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for your level of peace right now.
Or simply consider if you’re not peaceful, quite peaceful, very peaceful or completely at peace.
Now you hopefully have an idea of roughly how peaceful you are.
You’re being mindful of your level of peace.
I know a lot of you like mindfulness.
And so you now know if the actions you take today are making you more or less peaceful.
Ok, now let’s do some peace work!
What does your intuition tell you?
Stop and check in with your intuition.
Your gut feeling.
Ask yourself the following question:
What do you feel is required to be more at peace with yourself?
Take your time to reflect.
No need to rush.
Ask yourself again.
Say to yourself slowly:
What do I feel is required for me to be at peace with myself right now?
Give yourself some quiet time to reflect on the question....
I’m going to keep things really simple here.
According to Mr. Buddha, there is ultimately just one cause to not being at peace with yourself.
Do you know what that is?
Other words include: desire, wanting or attachment.
So, do you have a certain goal or desire that’s frustrating you as it’s unfulfilled?
Is your current life situation not the way you crave it to be?
Do you wish you were living somewhere else, or with someone else?
Are you desperate to feel differently?
Try completing the following sentence:
I’m not at peace with myself because….
This is not a way to beat yourself up for not being at peace with yourself!
No need for shoulds or oughts or musts.
This is just a way to see the causes of your dissatisfactions.
To find any cravings that are unknowingly taking away your sense of peace.
Perhaps to find a path for you to find greater freedom.
The Buddha’s fundamental teaching was that peace comes from letting go.
He used peace to mean happiness or contentment too.
Consider the truth of this statement in your life.
Look back in your life and recall a moment of letting go that led to greater peace.
Can you think of one?
I shared one, with the story at the beginning of this article.
So, your next question may be, how do I let go?
How to Let Go
The answer is awareness and kindness.
In another way, call it Kindfulness.
Let’s say you’re not feeling at peace today.
You may feel sad about something.
Or just feeling sad for no particular reason.
And you’re craving to be happy.
You’re craving for your state to be different from how it is.
So, you become aware of the feeling.
You’re being mindful of the feeling.
Stay with the feeling as best you can.
As you do so, you may notice your shoulders dropping.
Your body relaxing a little.
You keep watching.
You may notice a little tightness in your belly.
You keep watching.
You relax into the feeling.
You find yourself frowning and it seems to release by itself.
You begin to make peace with the feeling of sadness.
You let it be.
That’s letting go!
Letting things be is accepting.
Accepting is allowing.
Allowing what is, is letting go of the desire for things to be different.
And that, my friend, is peace.
And we can take things further too.
Peace is freedom.
Not freedom of desire, but freedom from desire.
The West worships freedom of desire.
And has discovered there’s no end to desire.
Endless desires destroy the Earth.
The East sees the wisdom in freedom from desire.
And they discovered the secret to inner peace, love and joy.
And now, much of the East is falling for the marketing of the West, and chasing desires.
And the West is beginning to see the silliness of chasing too many empty desires, and discovering the freedom from desires.
It’s a strange world we live in!
To find greater inner peace, find out what you are craving to be different.
See this craving, this wanting, this desiring, as the cause of your lack of inner peace.
See it clearly.
Then, either take action to fulfil the wanting, or accept the way things are.
One or the other.
If accepting, be aware and kind to your thoughts and feelings around this craving for things to be different.
Let them be.
That’s letting go of wanting life to be different, and the road to freedom in life.
Yes, it sounds simple, but not always easy.
But you can do it, step by step, (present) moment by (present) moment.
This is what mindfulness, kindfulness and meditation are all for.