In a world that values material possession and status above all else, it is not uncommon to fall victim to the notion that success is measured by titles and numbers after the dollar sign.
As we continue to exalt celebrities in the media and crave the newest weekly Hollywood gossip, it only makes sense that we would conform to the belief that success means more stuff. However, when we seek for our success, joy, and security in “stuff” we will always come up empty. Personally, I believe success is better measured by inner peace. If you believe that peace with yourself and peace with life should be taken into consideration when evaluating one’s level of success, this article is for you! The good news is that this inner peace can be found at any time, wherever you are. Through the practice of Mindfulness, we become still in the present moment and find rest in the simple awareness of being alive. Let’s take a closer look at this practice that can lead to lasting peace through life.
Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” It is commonly used as a therapeutic technique. First, we become fully present and connect with our environment by becoming aware of our mind and choosing to focus our attention on the moment at hand. When we are truly present with ourselves, we have the choice to either accept what is going on in our lives at the time or to stress over it and let it dictate our mood. But when we are truly mindful, we automatically choose to peacefully accept our present circumstances, no matter how good or bad. Let’s examine what peace through mindfulness would look like.
To be mindful is to calmly acknowledge and accept our feelings. We often look for inner peace in the moment through our feelings. We let our feelings tell us how to act and what to think about ourselves. We give our feelings way too much credit and responsibility. Feelings often have the power to control us and take us away from the truth of the present moment. We think “If I feel good, that must mean I’m at peace.” The more trust we put in our feelings, the further we stray from the moment. When we are on a roll in life and all is well, we feel great! But then when things get rocky and we are being tested, we lose our joy and feel down. To be mindful is to be at peace through the ups and downs of life. To be mindful is to be able to endure suffering and face trials, and in the midst of it all decide to peacefully accept the feelings we have about it all. Feelings will always change, but peace can be constant if we search for it in the right place. In this state of mind, peace is not found by “feeling peaceful.” It is found in the stillness of the present moment.
It is said that the average human being has between 40,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. How amazing is that? Most of these thoughts are unconscious thoughts throughout the day, but we all know the constant daily chatter that goes on in our minds. When it comes to the human mind, awareness yields peace. Mindfulness is a route to peace of mind through the awareness of thought. When we are mindful, we become more and more aware of our thoughts. As we become aware of our thoughts, we are able to identify the thoughts that are serving us and those that are hindering us. Many of us have thoughts that come from fear. When we entertain these thoughts, we begin to experience worry, anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness teaches us that we can find peace apart from our thoughts. Being mindful gives us the opportunity to acknowledge and say goodbye to ideas and beliefs that we are being called to let go of. As we become mindful, our minds become of less chatter and more clarity. In today’s world in this age of information, what sounds better than some peace of mind?
Mindfulness means not needing to follow the desires of our flesh. Oftentimes, our bodies tell us that there is something we need, so we listen and proceed while expecting a positive result. Speaking from personal experience here, being led by bodily sensations is simply not trustworthy. If it is peace we are looking for, we must not always put our trust in what our body is telling us to do. Mindfulness gives us that awareness and opportunity to listen before acting. It only makes sense that the practice of mindfulness is used in addiction recovery. Our body tells us we need that drink, so we start wanting it. We listen to our body and drink it. Then our body tells us “just one more.” Two years later, we have followed our bodily sensations all the way into addiction. Mindfulness tells us that inner peace is possible before submitting to what our bodies tell us to do. When we become present in the moment and acknowledge what our body is saying, we are able to say no to the actions that distract us from the very peace that we are seeking
In conclusion, the practice of mindfulness teaches us that inner peace can be found apart from our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. These three areas have so much influence on the way we live our lives that we often seek our inner peace through them. However, emotions are passing. We can’t look to our feelings for peace. Our thoughts are of thousands that pass by like clouds in our minds each day. We can’t think our way to peace. Our bodies are also not to be trusted on the search for peace. The obesity and addiction rates in America prove what happens when we follow our bodily sensations. Our bodies will not lead us to inner peace because it seeks pleasure in the moment. However, pleasure in the moment is temporary. Mindfulness yields peace that is lasting because by surrendering to the moment, we accept that life is permeating through our very being, and because of that fact, all is as it should be. To be mindful is to be able to truthfully say “I am at peace” and for it to have nothing to do with what is going on around us. It is to have a peace and a joy that aren’t circumstantial. Awareness of that peace is found in the present moment when we let go of what our feelings, thoughts, and bodies are telling us. In my eyes, to be able to truthfully say “I am at peace” is worth more than any number in a bank account. After all, isn’t it peace that we’re all really searching for? Just be still, and you will find it. It’s right here, and right now.