We call it peace because that's exactly what the experience is; a sense of wellbeing, stillness, resilience, wholeness and connection. It seems to come up from the inside, allowing us to feel free from being buffeted, thrown or overwhelmed by our various mental responses to an increasingly a hectic and frantic world.
Our problem is that while we spend a great deal of time looking for that sense of peace, we are mostly looking in the wrong place. We tend to think of peace and wellbeing as something that we have to chase and attain. Peace, we are told by advertising, is something we will achieve at some point in the future when maybe other parts of your life align, such as that new job, haircut, partner, house, car, smartphone, diet etc. The modern world as it is right now leads us to believe that once these external things have been mastered then that's what success in life looks like - then we will finally achieve that much longed-for peace and contentment.
The mental attachments we inadvertently build around this view of the world is one of the reasons we are experiencing a global fall in good mental health. But the good news is, peace is available 24-7. All it requires is a change of perspective
and deciding for a moment to be consciously still, present and very much alive in modern meditation.
Like most big changes in life, this requires an intention. Breathe in deeply and say to yourself "I don't have to be at the mercy of how I feel and think." It might seem challenging because it has always felt like the default response to everything in life was worry and stress. It’s a negative habit and it forms easily and quickly. As psychologist Rick Hanson says, the mind is like velcro for negative thoughts. Instead, you can choose to aim for peace and wellbeing and get behind your own real mission in life.
Modern meditation is the key and with regular practice, your capacity for peace will grow and unfold. In particular, you will notice how knowing and inner peace will shape and improve your relationship to daily life.
Here are a few ways you can uncover that inner peace during the day:
1. Remember: you can't stop thinking
It's impossible to switch off your mind and the thinking process that flows across it. So don't try. Rather, you can change your relationship to your thoughts. It's a shift of perspective that you will learn with modern meditation and it will set you free. Remember - you are not your thoughts.
2. Don't believe your inner critic
Because it's lying to you. The judgements and assumptions that your inner critic applies to what you do or don't do are not real - they are an illusion. The key is to not argue or resist your critical thinking. The more you resist, the louder the noise from your critic. So as you learn, change your relationship with your thoughts and just be alongside them - they will soon lose their impact.
3. It's not what you do, it's how you do it
With modern meditation techniques, you can learn to develop a different relationship to whatever you are doing. Separate and remove a sense of expectation, analysis and desired outcomes from action. Instead just do. Focus simply on the action and not your imagined and perceived relationship to the action. Try not to interfere and flow rather than fret. Like life, it's all about process not product.
Apply our special beanddo make happy work algorithm:
4. Stay focused and connected, wherever you are
Use your new modern meditation cognitive skills to stay fully connected to where you are and what you are doing. Switching off your autopilot and seeing things as they are reveals that the world is full of wonder. We learn to open up our senses to what is really going on, not what you think is going on. This little shift promotes a deeper sense of grounding in the here and now. Being fully present as the world flows around will naturally nurture your inner peace.
5. Finally - be here
Don't let your mind lead you to somewhere else. Keep your attention inwards, into your body-mind field and simply learn to watch and witness as you move and act through the world moment-by-moment. This is the central skill of modern meditation: to be able to just be while you are alive and awake in the world. It is then that you discover that nothing lasts, your fears are groundless and your worries pointless. You are here for a reason. This experience is not narcissistic or patronising, it's authentic. Peace comes from the realisation that you are in exactly the right place, doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing.
Peace is not closing yourself away, but instead knowing that you're on your own purposeful track in life. As we often say in our class, meditation practice doesn't tell you what to do, it provides you with the space, time and insight to make a map or plan. This allows you to know where you are going and you know how to get there - now, that really is peace of mind.