“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Place your hands on your heart. What do you feel? I don’t mean the beating of your heart but the emotions in that area of your body. This is a practice people find it difficult to do given the mixed feelings that arise when we cultivate the intimate aspect of ourselves. It reminds me of a pleasant experience that took place recently while I was preparing for bed. As I was washing my hands, I was overcome with a sense of love and compassion that filled my entire body. The touch and washing of my hands kindled a deep sense of love and compassion that lasted for thirty seconds or less. It was a familiar feeling I recall experiencing as a child. In that moment, I was taken back to my childhood where I relived the intimate feelings of oneness and togetherness associated with my mother. I mention this because it is the same sense of love and compassion we ought to practice with ourselves. The feelings evoked are the same ones we ought to invite into our lives regularly. Which brings me to the question: What is the relationship you have with yourself? Is it one of kindness and compassion or guilt and resentment? Irrespective of what it is, you can choose inner peace and harmony by letting go of thoughts that obscure its presence.
In a world where nuclear war, political deception, and environmental concerns are common, inner peace and harmony ought to take precedence. We are inundated with news that captures our attention and distracts us from attaining inner peace. They try to sell us a fictitious way of life imbued with fear, hate, and anxiety. I do not have contempt for them since that is their business model, and my business model is one of peace and harmony. It is my obligation to guide others to connect with their heart’s deepest desire to find inner peace. Some might say the heart’s role is to express love and I would argue otherwise because we are already the embodiment of love by virtue of our existence. We do not have to seek for love other than to remove the impediments that block us from realizing it. This is the message espoused by the Persian poet Rumi who once said: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” He was making the case for letting go of negative states such as anger, fear and hatred that obscure our oneness with love. This is not who we really are, but are learned emotional states that keep us from discovering our true selves.
“The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.”—Norman Vincent Peale
Inner peace is associated with the heart’s deepest desire because it is the language of our soul. Inner peace gives rise to love and allows it to expand like light in a dark room that fills every corner. You do not have to direct the light into corners of the room other than to turn it on. The same can be said of us: we must remove the barriers within ourselves that obstruct love, as Rumi alluded to. How do you feel about this so far? I’m certain you have questions brewing in your mind. I invite you to sit with them and contemplate the essence of this inner peace within you. No amount of money, fame or power resembles the inner peace within our hearts. It is merely a matter of removing that which stands in the way of connecting with our longing for peace and harmony. I liken it to stripping ourselves bare of all thoughts, beliefs, and falsehoods of who we think we are. These are concepts and ideas to help us find our way in the world yet do little to help us realize inner peace. There are millions of people in the world who accumulate material possessions to make them happy, yet still long for something missing from their lives. The thing that is missing is not lost but dwells within us waiting for us to come home to.
Inner peace is our default setting and one needn’t look any further than that of a child to witness this sense of harmony and bliss. However, if the child is repeatedly exposed to stimuli like video games and sugary sweets, it will behave erratically. Yet if it is fed with wholesome food and nurtured with love, kindness, and compassion it will exhibit this sense of inner peace and tranquillity. In keeping with this, I’d like you to return to the earlier exercise of placing your hands on your heart. After you finish reading this article, find a quiet place and turn off any distractions such as music or your mobile phone and sit with yourself for a few minutes. Notice the emotions that arise and make a declaration to see them through the eyes of love, no matter what comes up. Do not consciously engage with mental dialogue but feel the emotions and allow them to move through you. Hopefully, you will realise an ever-flowing river of peace streaming through you and it’s only a matter of letting go of the dam you have built to impede its flow.