One of my own teachers would insist that I could only learn to meditate properly by practising in noisy environments.
“How do you find peace?” he once asked me.
“I find a walk in the forest quickly brings me into a quiet, still and more peaceful state,” was my reply.
“That’s easy. Anyone can do that. But the forest is neither still nor silent, it is just that you temporarily take yourself away from the sounds and frequencies your physical ears are accustomed to responding to.” He then paused before continuing, “Until you experience peace in the busy street you have not yet found it.”
Admonished if not a little frustrated by such a response, I would drift into silence, or what I thought was silence, until he decided to pick up the conversation again. I had expected at least a little praise for my attempts at living what I perceived to be a more spiritual and aesthetic life. Nothing of the sort it seemed. As the years passed by, and my intellectually powered ego was more firmly put in its place, I began to understand some of what I was being taught by him in those and other precious moments.
First, the spiritual way wasn’t easy and such good teachers would often challenge the enthusiastic student, sometimes severely,and in my case especially, as a test of my willingness and preparedness to wake up to a more profound understanding of myself, life and a peaceful connection with both: to stir me into breaking free from my ego constructed gestalts and be truly open to new, often radical shifts in awareness. He was not denying the value of the occasional stroll in nature. Rather he was suggesting, as all good teachers do that excessive solitude as a path to peace and true growth is an illusion and lacks the variety our outer human development needs. It tends to weaken rather than strengthen us even leading to self-obsession in some cases. So the second aspect of my understanding was ( to quote with a little licence) that we have to learn to be IN this outer material life but at the same time know we are not OF it or confined by it.
True Peace is neither gained nor experienced by sitting cross-legged alone in a field. Pleasant though it may be, such practice can become retreat or withdrawal, even denial.
Peace is a natural inner state for all of us. We have simply abandoned it over the centuries until it is nothing but a faint dream for most of us. It has been obscured by the dust of selfishness and fear. We shouldn’t need “Peace Conferences” or even “Peace Treaties” and anyway they are rather false and meaningless, usually broken at a later stage since they are really just “no-more-fighting-just-at-the-moment” agreements. We can’t make the world peaceful until our hearts are peaceful. Yes of course we should stop arguing, fighting and harming. But if we want peace we have to become it. It is our natural hidden state of being.
Some may sympathise with one student of mine who said that as they saw clients each day during the week so they needed to be alone much for most of the other time so they could be peaceful. This student is one who, after years of apparently meditating regularly and having therapy, still cannot endure crowds, even small gatherings of people, or loud noises. Whilst I understand this student’s behaviour, as one of their teachers I feel a little failure on my part. They will never find real peace and the strength necessary to sustain it living in such a way. Peace is inside them not outside.
In our peace we become more not less aware. We become more tolerant and forgiving.
In our peace the valuing of life in all its forms grows in us as does our ability to live that life to the full.
In our peace we find joy in both the company of others and those occasional moments alone.
In our peace we love others more and rather than things, status or wealth.
In our peace we are kind and generous, devoid of selfishness.
In our peace we are happy, laughing often.
In our peace, each day is a gift, as we live moment by moment, changing our world wonderfully.
In our peace we become great givers as well as grateful receivers.
In our peace we find ourselves.
In our peace we find peace on this earth.
By all means have some time alone and enjoy it but don’t forget to live life, totally, and to celebrate life with others. Find your peace and share it. That is why we come here to this planet together and not just by ourselves.
Love and all good wishes
A Self-Mastery Exercise
Simply ask yourself these question often, repeating them several times in a sequence with a brief pause each time. You can do it anytime, anywhere.
“What is the peace in me?”
“May I be the peace that I truly am?”
Repeat them often and whatever answers you receive or don’t receive, let them go and just return to the questions. You will be surprised what may happen to you over time.
And a little news......
My new book “Angels Looking Through” is being well received and I am grateful for the wonderful supportive comments that are coming in. It has reached bestseller status in its category on Amazon UK several times recently – thank you.