Not long ago, I used to look ahead to the weekends and wonder how much I could do, how much I could catch-up, how much I could get closer to my goals in that weekend. I never really thought that the weekend would be a good time to find a moment of peace.
My weekends were all about what I could do. What tasks I could catch up on. How many things I could complete. It was like my life was a list of chores that had to be done and only if I complete enough of them could I feel happy. It was like my life was incomplete and I needed to work really hard and fast to have a chance to improve it.
Well, now I believe this is a recipe for unhappiness (and possibly madness). Implicitly behind these thoughts is a feeling of lacking and the sense that I have to achieve something to succeed in this world. It’s the kind of race that never ends. No matter how much I do, my mind can come up with a new challenge and set the bar higher. A never ending treadmill.
It’s true that I had (still have?) the tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself. A lot of pressure to “do things”. My wife showed this to me clearly when she asked me about my personal 28-day challenge. She noted that I often seem to be challenging myself and putting myself under pressure. She was right. Why was I doing that?
Now, I see that life is much, much more than this.
A Moment of Peace
Why did I feel the need to achieve a lot? Why did I want to get so many things done? Well, I implicitly had the assumption that “if I get everything done” or “if I get on top of everything”, then I can rest and life would be so relaxing. The reality was, though, that I never seemed to get everything done and never got “on top” of everything. It was always just out of reach no matter what. As a good friend, Sam, once said to me “if you do a lot of an infinite amount, there’s always an infinite amount left”.
What I was really searching for was peace. I thought that if I could just get all this stuff done, then I could have a moment of peace. I could relax and be happy and content. But I was going about it the wrong way.
I don’t need to “do” anything to find peace. It’s inside me all the time. I just have to recognise it and ease into it.
And I can do this at any moment. It’s always there. There is a moment of peace waiting for all of us, eternally.
Peace is always an option
Even as I wrote the lines above, my mind is telling me that these are crazy thoughts. My mind says “How can I say there’s always a moment of peace waiting for me? There are plenty of times when there’s so much drama going on that peace isn’t an option!”. Sounds like my mind has a point, but I can also recall those moments when time seems to stand still. Often when something really bad seems to be happening, something really monumental, rather than everything going crazy, time seems to stand still. This might happen when I’ve just badly injured myself, when I’m given the diagnosis of a significant illness, when I see a beautiful person across the room at a party, when I just realise that I left my mobile phone in a taxi, when I realise that I’ve just solved a problem I’ve been worried about for days, and endless more.
Sometimes at the most stressful points of my life, time seems to stand still. This is because the situation has caused my mind to stop for a moment. Just a moment. That’s all that’s needed to see what’s behind all that noise that the mind normally creates. In that moment where the mind doesn’t know what to do, we get to see what’s behind the mind, and that’s peace. Pure peace, where time doesn’t matter.
The Moment of Peace
This peace that is behind the mind is always there. It’s always there, just like the sun is always there even if you can’t see it. The sun is always there even behind the worst clouds.
This is why I call it “the” moment of peace. It’s always there. Eternally. It’s part of our true nature. Maybe it “is” our true nature. All we have to do is go beyond the mind and tap into it.
How to Access the Moment of Peace
I have to get behind my mind to access the moment of peace. My mind is always busy thinking and worrying about what I’ve done or worrying about what is going to happen. It’s running through lots of scenarios about how I could have done things differently in the past or how things could turn out in the future. What it doesn’t do is focus on what’s actually happening now.
Focussing on “now” is a good way to access the moment of peace. In fact, the moment of peace can only be accessed “now”.
This is one of the strong teachings of Eckhart Tolle. He says that it’s by fully accepting the present moment, accepting “what is”, that I can access the moment of peace. Eckhart calls this the Power of Now.
Meditation is all about focussing on the “now”. It’s all about quieting the mind, focussing on something like the breath which is definitely a “now” issue. Meditation is about clearing away the past and future, focussing on what’s happening now, and opening the path to the moment of peace.
Long walks can also be very meditative. I use these to gradually quieten the mind and focus only on the present. As I progress through the walk, preferably through nature, I can feel the moment of peace enveloping me.
Above, I discussed the things that made time stand still, like being given a diagnosis of a serious illness, which are points in my life which are so significant that the mind has to stop all its relentless worrying and focus 100% on what’s happening in the moment. Temporarily, it has no other choice.
It’s in these significant moments that I peer past my mind and see my eternal nature, and that’s a nature of peace and love where time is of no importance.
This is a big deal.
I’m sure it’s the same of all of us.
Where to now?
My mind is very stubborn. It doesn’t like being quieted as that’s threatening to it. It wants to be active all the time, worrying about the past and the future. My mind doesn’t like it when I focus only on the present moment because it can have no effect on “what is” in the moment. “What is” is just that. We can’t do anything about it and the best thing is to just accept it, whatever “what is” is. My mind doesn’t like this and wants to get back to thinking about the past and future as soon as it can.
These days when I regularly find myself catching my mind racing away, I ask it gently to stop for a moment. I’m starting to win the battle.
I now know that I don’t have to “do” anything or “have” anything to be a success in this world.
The truth is that we were born with everything we need to be happy and successful in life. We learn some things of this world so we can have some amazing experiences, but everything we need to be happy and peaceful were with us at the moment of our birth.
Think about that, and think about all the “things” you have today (or want to have) that are important to you. If you didn’t have these things when you were born, then they aren’t truly important, they are just interesting props to have while we experience this world we’re in.
These days I’m in search of happiness and peace and I realise that these are found within.
If you have a moment, please leave your thoughts below. I’d love to hear what you think about the Moment of Peace.
Related Links – Finding the Moment of Peace
- The Disease of Being Busy – This is a beautiful article and a good read.
- See Patanjali’s Eightfold Path for a guided meditation that follows the breath
- Thich Nhat Hahn talks about meditative walking in The Miracle Of Mindfulness