Given that the run up to Christmas is often accompanied for many people with a sense of stress or even overwhelm, I thought I’d make this week’s Heart of Thriving musing about Peace.
I’ve had some tremendously helpful insights about Peace recently.
Earlier this week, I was joined on my regular Heart of Thriving zoom call by Dr Dicken Bettinger, who is a veteran teacher of the inside-out understanding. A clinical psychologist, Dicken works with individuals, couples, families and organisations. He has an impressive resume of helping people from all walks of life bring about transformational change, but what I love most about Dicken is the ‘twinkle’ in his eyes, and the way he seems to deeply touch everybody he meets.
Perhaps it’s worth pausing for a moment, in between all the stuff that’s keeping you busy at this time of year, and reflect on what Peace means to you?
Peace is a felt experience of course, and I think it’s what everybody in the world is looking for.
Another word for Peace is ‘Home’ – that deep sense of well-being, presence and aliveness. Together with Natasha Swerdloff, another dear friend, Dicken wrote a book called “Coming Home”, which I recommend highly for anybody looking to realise more peace, love, happiness and wisdom in their lives.
Peace is the experience that helps all of us to have better relationships, enjoy life more, and access our own intuitive wisdom.
When we feel Peace, we also seem to naturally and automatically notice all the beauty around us. I can’t be thinking hard about anything, or ruminating, and experience peace.
There’s a huge difference in the quality of our moment to moment experience of life when we’re in Life versus when we’re in Thought about Life. The latter means we experience our concepts, our ideas, our judgements about whatever’s going on.
When we ‘fall out’ of our conceptual mind we’re just fully in the present moment.
Peace is what’s just naturally there in the absence of judgement – about yourself, other people, the situation or circumstance.
John-Roger’s famous saying “Peace is the cessation of againstness“ comes to mind here.
What I’ve learned for myself is that when I take even a small step away from my personal conceptual mind, I start to experience peace. I become pure consciousness having an experience of being alive.
I’ve always loved this George Bernard Shaw quote:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations”
For me, the often-insecure thinking of the personal mind so often feels like what Shaw is talking about here: “….instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy”.
I don’t want to live like that – and I’m sure that, deep down, you don’t either.
I was struck by the contrast in the way two people described the ‘same’ seasonal experience to me just this last week.
One was a new client – let’s call her Sally. She described having to carve out the time to go and collect the ‘bloody tree’ in her already overwhelmingly busy and stressful day. The kids were fighting in the back seat of the car. Although she’s not proud of this, she and the kids had a loud argument about which tree was the best one. Sally ended up yelling at them. They finally decided and manhandled the tree into the car, with the kids sobbing and sniffling all the way home. Then there was the stress of getting the bloody thing to fit into the tree stand. More yelling. Then the hunt for the box of tree decorations. Then more yelling about whether the fairy or the star should go at the very top. You get the idea. What could have been a magical experience for the whole family had turned into a war zone.
The other was Dicken. On the call this week, he described how he drove with his grandchildren to get the tree. It was a long trip, and it was snowing really hard. There was almost two feet of snow. “It was magical and just beautiful” he said. “When we fell out of our personal thinking – it was a wonderland of laughter, love and beauty”.
When we start judging things, the wonderland disappears. It clogs up our minds, and doesn’t allow us to see, hear, feel, smell and taste what is actually happening in that moment, because we are involved in whatever story we are caught up in.
I know a woman who hates Christmas and in fact, tears up whenever the subject comes up in conversation. “I’m over 60 years old, and I’ve never had my perfect Christmas”, she laments. And then she’ll go on to describe the ‘story’ of what her perfect Christmas would be like. (As you can imagine, there are at least 147 criteria for this perfection, including what other people say and do, and don’t say and don’t do, the presents she has to receive, the weather, and lots of sub-clauses in with the Santa Clauses!)
Because our minds only work one way – inside-out, she could have experienced her perfect Christmas every Christmas.
What’s the story that’s getting in the way of you experiencing peace right now?
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas, and a Happier New Year than you think is even possible right now.