For many, this time of year is one of celebration. While for others, it’s a time to simply tolerate and hopefully survive.
What’s the difference between the two types of people?
What is Peace?
Peace is most often ascribed to as an absence of geopolitical war. The word: “peacetime” is taken to mean a time in which countries are not at war.
However, peace also refers to our essential nature: an internal state of being that is natural. But often is not realized due to ‘Life’ – otherwise known as the human existence.
The Natural State is Peaceful
Our natural state is one of peaceful existence. Consider the experience of the unborn child in its mother’s womb.
Consider the experience of astronauts who report inexplicable peace from space, especially those who “walk” in space.
There are many examples of the relative peace might be attributed to external conditions; such as a sunrise, sunset, beach, mountain, music, art and more.
But what about inner peace? How many individuals experience a peaceful state of inner well-being – that mystical, spiritual state of awareness in one’s psyche?
Inner peace is a term used to describe the state of an awareness of balanced mind, body and spirit.
Many spiritual disciplines cite the attainment of inner peace as a state worthy of seeking at all costs. There are great ones who have lived most of their lives in peaceful attunement as the result of awareness of one’s Truth. Some of these great ones are well known, while many others are quietly and humbly living in peaceful bliss among us.
Recent studies show (and many individuals have found) that mindfulness is the first step in discovery of in inner peace; and in authentic spiritual experiences.
But what about those who do not experience life peacefully?
Growing up in a turbulent and chaotic inner-city where abuse, violence and crime are the norm – it can seem to many that peace may be unattainable without the aid of alcohol or drugs.
Yes, there are some who live in such areas who experience inner peace. But for most, an experience of inner peace is unknown.
And what about those who grow up in an upper income suburban environment where lives are lived in affluence? Does this segment of society have an easier path to peace?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
If Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the only factor considered, one might answer “yes” to that question. But while socioeconomic status may make conditions more favorable, it is not a factor in attaining inner peace.
As previously mentioned, many of the great ones who enjoy inner peace also live in poverty, as far as outer wealth is concerned.
So the real question is:If peace is our natural state, why don’t we experience inner peace naturally?
The answer may be so simple that it is elusive.
The Way to Inner Peace?
If inner peace is our natural state, then there must be some thing or some thinking that prevents us from experiencing it. If one human being may experience inner peace, then most others should be able to experience it as well. (For those who suffer serious mental illness, inner peace may be unattainable.)
Willingness to Change
While the process, or steps, of attaining inner peace may vary from one practice to another, what these steps or processes have in common is a willingness for the individual to change anything and everything that prevents one from the attainment of inner peace.
As a master once said to his devotee, as he held his head underwater in the mighty Ganges until the devotee’s fight for air was all but exhausted:“Until you desire to know Truth as bad as you wanted that breath of air, you will not find it.”
December: Month of Change and Celebration
December is a month of change and celebration. This month affords everyone the opportunity to quietly reflect within to assess where one is in their life.
It is the last month of the year before we change to the new year. It is the month of the Winter Solstice; and the month of holiday celebrations for many faiths and traditions. It’s an ideal time to reflect and seek peace.
Do you have inner peace? If “yes”, then celebrate that this month.
If “no”, then use this month to ask: “What do I need to change to have inner peace?”
The answers will come if you wait for them.
May Peace Be Yours This Holiday Season!
Kenneth Chance CEO and Director, Arrowhead Lodge Recovery