Finding Inner Peace in the Middle of Chaos
Have you ever been in a crowded subway or busy street and felt like it was just too much, lost in a crowded marketplace in a foreign country, or caught up in an argument that was going nowhere?
A great meditation teacher once said that there should be no difference between meditating in a cave or in the center of a city as peace is inside us and is not dependent on external circumstances. Although this is undoubtedly true, it is definitely put to the test when our lives are full of chaos or anger.
Being in touch with your inner peace is not the same as being happy. When difficult or painful things happen, such as the loss of a loved one, you will not feel happy, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t mean you have to lose your peace. Beneath the tears and grief there can remain a steadiness, an inner stillness, independent of the circumstances.
Maintaining that peace, especially when confronted with difficult situations, means being able to let go all the time, constantly, in every moment. We say, “don’t even pick it up!” for as soon as you begin to hold on, whether to resentment, irritation, hurt or anger, you create suffering for yourself. Your mind gets caught up in the emotion and you lose your balance. Letting go does not deny your feelings. You can feel all sorts of things, whether sadness, joy, anxiety or laughter.
The difference is that you are not holding on to these feelings. They come and then they pass. Like birds in the sky of your mind, let them fly away.
One of the greatest spiritual teachings is the awareness that all things are impermanent, that all things come and go, that we cannot cling to anything, not even pleasure, without also creating suffering. As we integrate the truth of this teaching it is wonderfully liberating for it brings us back into the present moment. If everything is so impermanent, including ourselves and our feelings, then there is no purpose in holding on and trying to make those feelings last longer. Rather, there is far greater joy in releasing them and reconnecting to sanity and peace.
Next: Just Being Meditation
Chaos is natural—if you look at the world it is everywhere—but to find your peace in the midst of chaos is something we all have to deal with. Life is unpredictable and will bring about many different emotions and mind states that can be challenging and difficult, even unbearable at times. But beneath all the dramas, distractions and problems there is a still and calm place you can rest in.
If, amidst the turmoil, you can find just one moment of peace in each day, then your whole life will become more joyful. Like the water in a lake, when your mind is calm you can see the depths below, but when your mind is disturbed it is easy to get caught up in the waves. Through meditation you can become more aware of when emotions arise so you can take some time to chill out before they take over.
“Meditation is when I can watch stuff go by and the part of me that usually interrupts and says, ‘That’s a good story, or that son of a bitch, or I’m guilty and awful,’ that part sits back and sees it as just one more story but without attachment to it,” says our friend Dr. Joan Borysenko in our book, Be The Change. “This gives me the most delicious sense of spaciousness and peace.”
If circumstances cannot be changed then you can change your attitude toward them—you may not be able to control the wind but you can adjust your sails. You can either blame others or you can relax into each moment as it arises. When you can just be with the way things are in the present moment then you can be free of complications, and that freedom is your peace.
Just Being Meditation
Find a comfortable place to sit, and close your eyes. Become aware of yourself, of your presence on the chair in the room. Cast your mind around your body. Breathe into and release any places of tension.
Now feel the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves. Here you are: alive … breathing … sensing … your heart beating … your feet on the floor. Be present with yourself and whatever is happening, without judgment.
Now just sit and be and breathe … just sitting … just being… just breathing. Silently repeat, “May all things be well, may I be at peace with all things.”
Stay with this for a few minutes, or for as long as you like. When you are ready take a deep breath and gently open your eyes.
How do you stay peaceful in the midst of chaos? Do comment below.