by By Ed and Deb Shapiro: Have you ever been in stuck in traffic on a busy street and felt like it was just too much or caught up in an argument that was going nowhere?Ed and Deb Shapiro reveal how to focus on finding peace when the small stuff keeps getting in your way.
A great meditation teacher once said there should be no difference between meditating in a cave or in the center of a city, because peace is inside us and is not dependent on external circumstances. Although this is undoubtedly true, it is definitely put to the test when your life is full of chaos or anger.
Being in touch with your inner peace is not the same as being happy. When difficult or painful things happen, such as the loss of a loved one, you will not feel happy, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t mean you have to lose your peace. Beneath the tears and grief, there can remain a steadiness—an inner stillness—independent of the circumstances.
Maintaining that peace, especially when confronted with difficult situations, means being able to let go all the time, constantly, in every moment. You might say, “Don’t even pick it up,” for as soon as you begin to hold on, whether to resentment, irritation, hurt or anger, you create suffering for yourself. Your mind gets caught up in the emotion and you lose your balance. Letting go does not deny your feelings. You can feel all sorts of things, including sadness, joy, anxiety or laughter. The difference is you’re not holding onto these feelings. They come, and then they pass. Like birds in the sky of your mind, let them fly away.
One of the greatest spiritual teachings is the awareness that all things are impermanent, that all things come and go, that you cannot cling to anything—not even pleasure—without also creating suffering. As you integrate the truth of this teaching, it’s wonderfully liberating, for it brings you back into the present moment. If everything is so impermanent, including yourself and your feelings, then there is no purpose in holding on and trying to make those feelings last longer. Rather, there is far greater joy in releasing them and reconnecting to sanity and peace.
Chaos is natural—if you look at the world, it’s everywhere—but to find your peace in the midst of chaos is something you have to deal with. Life is unpredictable and will bring about many different emotions and mind states that can be challenging and difficult, even unbearable at times. But beneath all the dramas, distractions and problems, there is a still and calm place you can rest in.
If, amidst the turmoil or fear, you can find just one moment of peace in each day, then your whole life will become more joyful. Like the water in a lake, when your mind is calm, you can see the depths below; but when your mind is disturbed, it is easy to get caught up in the waves. Through meditation, you can become more aware of when emotions arise so you can take some time to chill out before they take over.
As our friend Dr. Joan Borysenko says in our book Be The Change, “Meditation is when I can watch stuff go by and the part of me that usually interrupts and says, ‘That’s a good story, or that son of a bitch, or I’m guilty and awful,’ that part sits back and sees it as just one more story but without attachment to it. This gives me the most delicious sense of spaciousness and peace.”
If circumstances cannot be changed, then you can change your attitude toward them—you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails. You can either blame others or you can relax into each moment as it arises. When you can just be with the way things are in the present moment, then you can be free of complications—and that freedom is your peace.
Just Being Meditation
Find a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Become aware of yourself, of your presence on the chair in the room. Cast your mind around your body. Breathe into and release any places of tension.
Now feel the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves. Here you are: alive…breathing…sensing…your heart beating…your feet on the floor. Be present with yourself and whatever is happening, without judgment.
Now just sit and be and breathe…just sitting…just being…just breathing. Silently repeat, “May all things be well, may I be at peace with all things.”
Stay with this for a few minutes or for as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and gently open your eyes.
Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of Be The Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. They are featured weekly contributors to Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com and Care2.com. Ed and Deb write Sprint’s The Daily CHILLOUT inspirational text messages. They have three meditation CDs: Metta: Loving Kindness and Forgiveness, Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight and Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation. Deb is also the author of the best-selling book Your Body Speaks Your Mind, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award.