Over twelve years ago, I bought a refrigerator magnet about finding peace. I knew very keenly that the people I loved the most needed me to be calmer in my heart. The quote on the magnet challenged my inherent belief that I would only find peace when my kids were both in school all day, the house was cleaner, my job was better, my extended family stopped being so annoying, I finished writing my first book and got it published, and the stars aligned perfectly. The refrigerator magnet helped me see that equanimity is an inside job, independent of external circumstances.
So, I bought the magnet and put it on my refrigerator to remind myself to be more peaceful. My next lesson turned out to be that reminding yourself to be peaceful when you go to get eggs out of the fridge isn’t enough. You need to commit to a regular practice that cultivates a calm mind and heart.
If you’d like to be less reactive and you’re stuck thinking it’ll only happen when the stars align in just the right order, it’s time to hold yourself responsible for finding equanimity.
Meditation is not just about reducing stress, but, perhaps more importantly, it helps us cultivate an inner stillness which protects us from the surrounding chaos. That’s why in meditation you sit in complete stillness. You might feel sensations arise like an itch on your neck or an ache in your big toe, but you learn to notice those stimuli but not react to them. It takes practice and eventually over time, we have calmness in our heart.
If finding more peace in your life sounds appealing, recommit to your meditation practice.
Peace — It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. (Unkonwn)
- How important is having more peace in your life?
- How much time during your day are you willing to devote to feeling more peaceful?
This post is a short excerpt from Edie Raphael's The Art of Being Present: Mindfulness Meditation for Work and Life. The full book (including 52 weeks of guided meditations) can be purchased here.
Credit: Photo by Kitty Kouwenhoven