How to Achieve Inner Peace
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”¯ -Carl Gustav Jung
It is that time of year again, when the garden performs its ritual magic of re-creating itself anew. Regardless of the challenging and changeable winter weather conditions, the perennials in the garden re-emerge each spring, a blooming demonstration of what it means to weather the storms of life. Perennials for me are the defining feature of an evolving garden, because we trust them year after year to sustain the shape of our garden. Finding the source of perennial sustenance in our selves is how we shape our own evolution. For me, after years of searching outside of myself, I am finally waking up to the singular truth of life that has been articulated by much smarter people than me– that our world is created from the inside out.
Our thoughts do truly make the world, and they are composed of both our capacity for attention and for relationship- mostly to our own experience. I have spent most of the first half of my life working to make the external conditions conform to the internal picture of how I thought it should look. It trained me well in resisting how it was and often this externally driven reality left me coming up short, unable to see the goodness and abundance in and around me. As much as I claimed to be an original thinker, identifying as an inventor or entrepreneur of sorts, in the most deeply affecting way, I was conforming to the path cut out by our culture of seeing myself through the eyes of others. I bought into the system, believing as we all do, that once I got to this revenue goal, won this award, achieved this or owned that I would feel fulfilled, content, and successful. This is not how it works.
Instead, it is in tuning into and sensing our body’s wisdom and entraining in listening for the quietest voices inside, where life truly manifests. In fact recent scientific research confirms that we have what has been referred to as an enteric brain, which is a vast set of neurons in our core that has the same capacity to perceive, think, learn and decide as our cranial brain. Our hunches and intuitions are fueled by this brain and can inform our thinking capacity and infuse our sense of reality with a grounded, heart centric view of who we are and what is possible for us. Because we are so dominated by our cerebral brain, learning to sense and listen for our enteric wisdom takes focused practice. Meditation is an open door to this perennial sustenance.
Sometimes when my kids–who are mostly young adults now–are completely overwhelmed with the vast demands of growing up and bereft of themselves, they will be open to me guiding them in a meditation into their center. (I actually made a CD of these meditations). As I guide them to feel their breath, the weight of their body, relaxing the belly, the jaw, the forehead, I take them on a journey to a pool of golden light behind their hearts. They will attest to the fact that when we practice quieting and listening on the back side of our hearts, there are voices of younger versions of ourselves, or teachers waiting there for our attention. We truly do have the answers we are looking for outside of us, waiting for us to just turn our attention inside. The more you practice thinking with your enteric brain, the more powerful your skills at sensing will become. Soon gratitude is not just a word that recalls a mental state, but rather a physical sensation of opening in your thoracic vertebrae. Even fears and anger change shape under the gaze of your sensing intelligence.
I have entirely given up the idea that I have any control over the world around me, and as soon as I get worked up and overwrought about the many spinning balls in my universe feeling out of control, I go to a place where I can get quiet. I stop thinking about what to do and turn on my sensing brain. Because I do it so often now, I can fall deep into the pool of my heart in moments and like magic, the truth of what is going on around me is revealed. Mostly it is just the peace of letting things be what they are, but when you sprinkle that with the feeling gratitude of this very moment, the outside circumstances conform to the truth of your deepest abiding intelligence.