Cultivating Peace of Mind
Letting go of striving to be something other than we are
Posted October 2, 2009
Peace of mind is something we all seem to want, and want more of. Few of us get it, and when we do it tends to be fleeting. I think the reason has something to do with how we think of "peace of mind." It is not something we can have and hold, but it is certainly something that we can learn to cultivate and allow to grow.
How do we do that? Here are a few steps.
1. Allow yourself time to just sit, without distractions, without something to do, or a place to go. No multitasking.
2. Use that time for you and get curious about your mind and experience just as it is. Look into your experience and just watch the goings on between your ears and in your heart. There is nothing to do, no state to achieve. Just practice being exactly where you are just as you are.
3. Notice the urge to change the experience or to pull out. These are the red flags that your old history is showing up, with all the old habits that compelling you to change your mind and body. In short, to be something other than you are. These habits are the fuel for struggle, and if you practice just noticing them as thoughts and urges, reminders of the past --"ah, there's my old history, or there's a thought that..." -- you interrupt the old programming and disarm it.
4. If it helps, you can breathe into each moment and imagine leaning into it with a sense of curiosity and with a kind intention to just watch and be at peace. As you do that, you can watch and let go with each in breath and out breath.
Continue this practice for as long as you wish and end with the intention to be present with your mind and body just as it is just where you are, without fighting it, struggling with it, or changing it. When you do that, you are practicing peace and kindness for yourself. This is a skill that will become more automatic over time and something you can do where ever you find yourself.
Remember peace of mind is not something we have, it is a choice to lay down our arms and stop fighting our own experiences. This will help give you the presence and clarity to consider what you would like to do, what you would like to become, what you would like to be about in this life.
Practice peace of mind and see what happens over time. Make it a choice.
With a Kind Heart
John P. Forsyth
Author of The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety, ACT on Life, Not on Anger, and a professional book called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: A Practitioner's Guide.