The Pursuit of a Peaceful State of Mind
By Loise Machira
“There is toxicity everywhere around us. In the environment, in the political atmosphere, but the origin is in people’s hearts. Unless we clean the ecology of our own heart, and inspire others to do the same, we will be an instrument of polluting the environment. But if we create purity in our own heart, then we can contribute great purity to the world around us.”- Radhanath Swami, Author of The Journey Home
Have you ever questioned the true meaning of peace of mind? Within the area of self-development and mindset optimization, we hear a lot of advice about how to improve our habits in order to become the best version of ourselves in both our private and professional lives. Majority of the insights on self-care teach us how to grow through challenges and ultimately live a happier life but achieving this with compassion towards ourselves and others in order to maintain peace of mind is a different conversation.
For the longest time, peace of mind has been understood to mean the absence of stress, sadness, fear envy, anger, irritability or even the absence of worldly conflict. Peace is actually a dynamic state that is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. Dalai Lama says it is not enough to simply pray, but argues that educating and understanding how destructive emotions disturb our inner peace can help us learn the tools to effectively tackle them. He refers to this as the process of cultivating emotional hygiene.
Image by Dalai Lama.com
So how can we develop a peaceful mindset even when the world around us seems to be spinning uncontrollably? Are we supposed to be in control? How can we stay grounded and not be easily swayed by daily unpredictable situations around us? How can we be less reactive to people and circumstances? Months ago, I decided to embark on this personal journey to find the answer to these questions. Although I only just began, my search seems to be making headway.
i) Mental Decluttering
Every so often, we start noticing items in our homes that are either taking up unnecessary space or going against the interior aesthetic we are going for. When we spend time making sure our physical spaces are clean, tidy and visually appealing, we feel a sense of accomplishment and bliss.
Similar to decluttering, we also need to take pay attention how we feel around certain people, because social connections do affect our mental state. At the same time, we need to have internal dialogues with ourselves to identify the root cause of these triggers because it will enable us we start to building resilience to the outside world.
In the book Think Like A Monk, Jay Shetty explains that at some point in our lives, we’re all victims but if we adopt a victim mentality, we’re more likely to take on a sense of entitlement and behave selfishly. He also adds that negativity is a trait, not someone’s identity. I have definitely been a culprit in either emitting negative energy, or ‘cancelling’ people who I find doing the same. When we start to really pay attention to why we feel how we feel, we begin to spot the toxic impulses around us, identify their root cause, our contributions (if any) and address it in order to cultivate peace within ourselves.
ii) Transformative Forgiveness
We have all been hurt or deeply offended by either our loved ones, or acquaintances but when we hold grudges towards other people, it lingers subconsciously in our minds. The quote that says, ‘out of mind out sight’ shouldn’t be interpreted to mean delete their number, block them on social media or avoid going to places they frequent. Although these steps will help in preventing you from thinking about them, it will not solve the real issue and most importantly, it will not make room for healing.
I recently came across the concept of emotional pollution where we seek revenge towards those who hurt us by doing the same to them in an attempt to mirror how they made us feel. By doing this, we are pouring our own negative experiences into society and when we realise it didn’t hurt them enough, we only feel worse. Even if we slightly feel a sense of achievement, stop and ask yourself whether this adds any value in your life.. really.. is it worth it?
Transformational forgiveness is really a selfless act of strength because this is where you forgive someone without their apology. Its transformational because you're not waiting for the person to acknowledge their wrongdoing but you're choosing to be the bigger person. This allows you to heal, grow and cultivate a sense of peace.
Gen Kelsang Nyema, an American Buddhist Nun, in a viral Ted Talk explained that happiness and unhappiness are states of mind and therefore their real causes, cannot be found outside the mind. She emphasised the importance of actively cultivating a source of internal peace and happiness from our own mind through meditation which is the mental action of concentrating on a peaceful positive state of mind.
Image by Ted x Greenville, 2014
Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and author of Get Some Headspace, went further to describe meditation as stepping back to see your thoughts clearly, and witnessing them come and go without judgment but with a relaxed focused mind. Most times, the practice of meditation is misconceived to mean clearing out your mind of negative thoughts or avoiding them altogether.
Forgiving others is essential for spiritual growth. Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while painful, is now nothing more that a thought or feeling that you carry around.- Dr. Wayne Dyer
Yours in Wellness
References: Dalai Lama Teachings, Spiritual Earth, Dr. Wayne Dyer Blog, Tibet Net
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