We all want to feel better. We all seek solutions to problems or to better ourselves in some way. We want to see life advance and grow and expand and we want to deal with people and situations that will permit or even encourage that growth. We see the challenges associated with money, status and power but we recognize almost none regarding peace.
Peace of Mind is an actual state. You have no resistance, no struggle, no distance, no desire. You are completely fine with the world as it is. You accept it and there isn’t even any classification of things let alone full narratives about them. You are clear and present in the moment–the most peaceful and beautiful place to be.
When we’re locked in ego we’ll tend to try to use ego to get back to peace, which you can’t really do. You can’t try your way into peace you have to relax your way in. It’s an act of letting go. A good example is a young lady who has been walking her dog in front of my house for several years now. She used to be very happy but now she has many problems.
Back when she’d first got her dog the dog was the center of her life. It got played with in the park, he was always looked at and talked to. Dogs are great because they’re a pack animal that is brilliant at forgiving and it’s like they’re just always waiting for something great to happen. She used to love watching him spot a squirrel or another dog he was excited to see. Now she’s mostly upset.
She’s a teenager now so her parents got her a phone. Presumably this is about connectivity with her family and friends and that’s all understandable and yet, being a tool, she’s learned to think of her tool as her answer instead of herself. So before she had the phone she got half an hour off each evening for a nice peaceful dog walk. Now the dog walks ignored alongside her while she mostly argues with people via her phone via earbuds that block the world out.
Sometimes she walks by talking to someone about some offense she’s experienced, sometimes she’s texting with a worried or angry look on her face. She used to smile and say hello to many neighbours previously, but these little doses of happiness have been forgone in favour of the phone. Those dog walks used to create great happiness within her but now her what’s next? brain is waiting for happiness to be delivered to her via the external world.
Meanwhile the dog is still there, ignored but very present. He notices the neighbours every time he passes. She can walk past some amazing things and not even notice she’s done it. So the purpose of her wanting the dog was wanting companionship and the dog did that really well. The phone was also a request for increased companionship in a way, but if you were to look at the results the way a scientist would, it seems crazy that the phone would go on the walks because it almost always leads to frustration or worry or sadness whereas the dog never did.
Now she’s locked into an external world where she’s fighting an external battle for status or money or power or love. These are all gains of the ego. Her spirit could easily be happy with just the dog. There’s a lot of evidence that the dog would do the same thing as before if she only paid it some attention. He still has the same demeanour, he still watches her hoping she’ll interact. He still believes in her. It’s her that doesn’t believe in her.
If you have a pet then consider spending more time with it as a spiritual exercise. Watch how the animal reacts to the world relative to you. Watch how you feel when you’re with it. Just like any good guru a dog will always be willing to join you in the moment you are in if you are willing to abandon your thoughts about other places and other times.
Look into your fellow creature’s face. See your old friend there. They’re waiting for you to come to them so they can heal with you. Join them.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.