What is peace? Sometimes due to our mind’s habitual thoughts or continued attention to a particular condition, we can come to believe that peace is a thing separate from us, and is therefore something we need to work towards or strive for, to accomplish or achieve. Yet in truth Peace is the simplest and most natural state, inherent in all existence. At first this can seem a little far fetched, when all the mind has to do is turn on then news to begin to see conflict all over the globe as well as in our own backyard. But the truth that Peace is our natural state is very easy to see if we also recognize one fact: that it is the conflict that is being regarded as newsworthy and not the Peace. In other words, the conflict is what is “happening”; when it stops happening, it’s considered normal, and no longer newsworthy.
By the same token, Inner Peace — peace that is independent of external conditions — is also our natural state.
Again, this is because it is our true nature. Our true nature being that all-pervading Oneness that is the Source of all the manifest universe. It is an infinitely silent, infinitely intelligent, field of pure consciousness. It is from here that all manifest creation expresses itself. As physically manifested beings, we have emerged from that same infinitely silent field. This is why when we engage in any form of self care that helps to simply quiet the mind a little, to simply do a little less with the mind, it is always easy to recognize very quickly that peace really is our true nature.
As previously alluded to, it’s important to recognize that there’s nothing we need to -do- to experience Peace.
am I at peace right now?
Then why aren’t we experiencing inner Peace all the time? It is because we usually -are- doing something with our mind: we are generating thoughts that conflict with each other. For example, “I want more money” is one thought we may hold, and the other could be something along the lines of “it’s too hard for me to make money.” So simply choosing to drop either one of these conflicting thoughts would result in an absence of conflict, and therefore greater Inner Peace. However, it’s interesting to note that most often, one of the two conflicting thoughts is one that we’re consciously aware of, and the other is usually a subconscious thought that we’re not aware of. Quieting the mind then is a truly worthwhile practice because it allows those previously sub-consciously held thoughts to bubble up into our conscious awareness. So that we can then consciously choose whether we want to let go of or hold onto them.
Returning to our discussion of how to experience Inner Peace, all we need to do is begin to -stop- doing that thing we’ve been doing that’s been temporarily obscuring our natural state. And we can see that even the absence of Inner Peace is only a temporary phenomenon because like everything in the manifest universe, it too has a beginning, a middle, and an end. For example, if we are both honest and diligent in how we use our attention, we will see even on the days that we call “extremely” stressful days, that we did experience moments of less stress, some quietness, some degree of peacefulness.
So when we are willing to make the choice to direct our awareness more consciously, to what actually is, rather than only to the short-hand labels (such as stress, anxiety, worry, fear) that we’ve allowed our minds to be habituated to use, we recognize immediately that Inner Peace is not only more accessible to us that we had thought, but that we are already experiencing many more moments of Inner Peace throughout our day than we may have once believed.
when I can I witness my own inner peace?
This opportunity to direct our awareness more consciously is especially more available to us during the time we specifically make for ourselves, our hatha yoga or meditation practice. In every moment of our waking experience, we are experiencing some level of tension, and also some degree of Peace. It is our conscious choosing to direct our attention to one end of that spectrum more than the other that will determine what we experience more of, in the following moment, and the moment after that, and….
So for the next 30 days of your practice, I invite you to explore deepening your awareness of how much Peace you are experiencing in each posture, in each thought, in each moment of your natural, still, beingness.
After 15 years of sitting at desks and ignoring warning signs of back pain, Parveez's world got turned upside down in 2002 when he was hospitalized with a severe spinal infection. The doctors told him that so much bone mass had been lost, the best case scenario for him was going to be wearing a back brace and he had a very real possibility of being paralyzed. After leaving the hospital, he was determined to become more aware of his body’s needs and that intention was what led him to his first Bikram Yoga class in July 2003. Soon he had direct experience that convinced him this practice could meet anyone else right where they were, and take them as far along the road to wholeness as they chose to go. He stayed gratefully and happily on that road, until 2014 when he attended the 250 hour evolation yoga Teacher Training program. Parveez's reaction at the end of the teacher training, "[a]s much as my first 11 years of practice had done to help build my mind-body awareness, improving my health, strength, flexibility and mental outlook on life, the benefits I got from the teacher training program felt like a further quantum leap forward on rocket fuel."