You don’t need to have a peaceful mind to experience peace. Peace is available in every moment… regardless of what’s going on in your head.
When I offer meditation taster sessions to the public, it never ceases to amaze me how people who have never meditated before will often experience profound peace the first time they try it.
Even deeply unhappy people are able to experience peace and inner calm the very first time they meditate.
How is this possible?
It is because the peace we seek already exists within us. It is our true nature.
The obvious question then, is, ‘If peace is our true nature, why don’t we experience it all the time?’
It is because you have to be still to notice it. Most of the time, we are so caught up in our busy thinking minds that we simply fail to notice the peace and stillness that are always present within.
Peace never leaves you. You leave peace.
Of course, your mind will tell you that, in order to experience peace, you first have to sort out your anger issues, work on being less judgemental, become more patient, or free yourself of greed or envy—whatever your own particular flavour of mind disfunction is. *
(* note: everybody is messed up in some way or other. It’s the human condition).
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There Is No Distance Between You And Peace
Whatever the mind may tell you, there is no distance between you and peace, between you and happiness, between you and everything your heart desires.
Unhappiness and discontentment exist only as thoughts. When you give your full attention to the present moment, thinking temporarily stops — and, in the absence of thinking, what remains is peace.
You don’t have to look for it. It reveals itself when there is nothing blocking.
Of course, most people will pick up their unhappy story again as soon as they leave the meditation meeting. Nevertheless, the fact that they were able to be free of it even for a short time, is evidence that anyone can experience peace, at least temporarily— no matter what is going on in the mind.
Most people are like the guy on the long distance train who spends the entire journey with his suitcases perched on his head, instead of putting them in the luggage rack.
In the moments there is nothing you can do to improve or change your situation, which is most of the time, it is better to put your load down and enjoy the present moment.
With practice, you can learn to deepen and extend these moments of peace.
The key thing to grasp is this:
You don’t need to have a peaceful mind to experience peace. Peace happens naturally when the mind subsides.
Inner Peace Through Table Football
As a novice monk, whenever I had an issue I was struggling with, I would walk up the steep hill to my teacher’s house.
One day I arrived at his door with some troublesome issue on my mind.
He invited me in and asked “What’s up?”
Before I had a chance to tell him about my problem, he said to me, “Let’s play table football.
He had recently bought a table and was just learning to play.
I had a big advantage over him as I had played a lot during my university days and he was a beginner. In fact, I went on to become his fussball coach… but that’s another story!
I had one move he couldn’t deal with and won the first game 9–1. We got lost in football talk. I showed him how to set up his defence to make it hard for me to score. I won the second game 8–2. He was slowly improving.
We had just started the third game when he asked me, “By the way, what was it you came to talk to me about?”
I had become so absorbed in the game that I had completely forgotten about my problem. I struggled to remember what it was. And thinking about it felt like hard work. And even when I eventually remembered, it didn’t seem so important any more.
I had been experiencing peace for the past 20 minutes, even with a ton of unresolved issues kicking around in my head.
Paying Attention To The Present Moment
I often use an exercise called ‘The Noticing Exercise’ with my coaching clients to demonstrate how peace can be experienced in any moment— regardless of the issues or concerns you are facing in your life.
I usually start by asking them to bring to mind something that is currently troubling them. I then get them to spend a minute or so thinking about their difficulty and experiencing how that feels. I can usually sense a contraction in their energy as they do this.
I then ask them to close their eyes and simply notice the following things:
You may want to try it?
- your breath as it flows in and out of your body
- the sensation of your body coming into contact with the chair
- the feel of the air in the room against your skin
- the soles of your feet touching the floor
- the skin around your feet, the inside of your feet
- the back of your head
- your whole body, supported by the chair, breathing
- the space surrounding your body
- that Now is happening
When I sense they have become present, I invite them to open their eyes again.
When I ask how the exercise went, they generally use words like ‘peaceful, expansive or timeless’ to describe their experience.
And when I then ask what happened to their problem, I generally get one of two responses. They have either forgotten about it altogether or it has moved from front stage in their awareness to being less solid, less important.
Here’s a version of the Noticing Exercise that I recorded:
The Noticing Exercise (12 minutes)
Peace As An Emotion vs Peace As Your Inner Reality
There are two types of peace we can experience.
The first is a mind-based experience of peace that you may feel when things are going well for you. It is an experience that comes and goes—the opposite of feeling agitated or restless.
The second type has nothing to do with the mind. It doesn’t come and go as an experience. It has no opposite. It is the peace that is revealed when the thinking mind is absent.
The mind is restless by nature. It is never at peace—or not for long anyway.
I love the following quote from the Indian spiritual Master, Nisargadatta
“There is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind”. — Nisagadatta Maharaj
You may enjoy another article I’ve written on why it is so difficult, if not impossible, to experience lasting peace of mind. Here’s the link:
My coaching sessions focus on helping people achieve peace WITH mind rather than peace OF mind
Trying to change the content of the mind is an arduous process that can take years to achieve. It is far quicker and simpler to change the way you relate TO the mind.
In this way, anyone— even people with the most agitated minds—can experience peace right away.
If you’d like some 1:1 help to connect directly with the peace of your true nature, click on the button below to schedule a free Zoom call. The first session is offered completely FREE of charge … with no obligation or strings attached!