Peace is Present
As you can see, we are big fans of “being here and now,” of being present. After all, the past is finished and there’s not much you can do to change what has already happened. The future has not yet occurred and it can’t be changed as much as it can be created.
So what do you do if something has happened in the past that you would like to correct or change? What do you do if you would like the future to be different from what you have already created in the past?
It’s probably obvious that we are going to argue for staying present. But why?
Let’s go back to the beginning of this book. We talked then about how to create the experience of life you would most like to have. We looked a bit at the difference between the symbols of life and the underlying experiences that you truly seek.
In the simplest of examples, let’s say that one of the experiences that you value is one of being at peace. When is peace going to show up? When is the “time” of peace? Can you go back into the past and create the experience of peace when, instead, you were in stress or distress? Of course not. Can you move ahead to tomorrow and create peace then?
Tricky one, this question about tomorrow. On the one hand, you can create peace, or just about anything else – but when? The tricky part is that tomorrow is more like a scorecard reflecting choices you made earlier.
So if you see something in your past that you would like to correct, when can you correct it? Tomorrow? Nope – not here yet. Yesterday? Nope – already gone. That leaves today. The present.
So if yesterday was more stressful or distressing than you would prefer and you would like tomorrow to be better, what can you do today that will give you the best shot at experiencing that kind of peace that you seek?
Seek – another tricky word. I once bumped into a spiritual group of “seekers” and the leader asked those present if they were truly “seekers” of their spiritual focus. As the assembled group assured each other, they were true seekers. The leader then suggested that they stop seeking and start finding.
Cute, right? But what great wisdom! Our friends at www.dictionary.com again provide some help. The first definition at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/seek: “to go in search or quest of: to seek the truth.” That one pretty much tells it all – “to go in search of” suggests that you have to leave where you are in order to find that which you seek.
The next set of definitions all start with “to try.”
· “to try to find or discover by searching or questioning: to seek the solution to a problem”
· “to try to obtain: to seek fame.”
· “to try or attempt (usually fol. by an infinitive): to seek to convince a person”
You probably recall the problem that comes with trying. Remember the section on try vs. do? (Yeah, But I Tried That Already).
We have two challenges with “seeking.” The first is that it suggests what we are looking for is someplace else and the second is that you have to “try.”
So what if you truly do seek greater peace? What do you do? How about finding peace right here, right now? What would you have to do in order to produce the experience of peace right here, right now?
Let’s try something. Right here, right now. Assuming you are in a place where you can safely close your eyes (at home, in your office, or someplace where you aren’t operating a car, machine or other device or system that might endanger yourself or others).
Read these simple instructions through, and then give it a go:
- Sit comfortably, or lie down
- Close your eyes
- Notice how your body feels and what part of your body you are feeling (neck, shoulders, stomach, legs, etc)
- Focus on your breathing and notice if you are breathing deeply, from your diaphragm or more shallowly from your upper chest
- Move your breathing more deeply, more slowly
- Breathe in through your nose to a count of 4 or 5
- Exhale through your nose to a count of 4 or 5
- Repeat this rhythmic breathing for 2-3 minutes
- Open your eyes
- Notice how you feel
If you are like most people, you may find that you are feeling more relaxed than when you started, more at peace. You may not be perfectly at peace, and yet you may be more at peace than when you started.
If so, where did that peace come from? Where did you have to go to find it?
We would suggest that the peace came from within you, that it is always there, and that all you have to do is focus on it, focus inwardly, and you will begin to experience a bit more peace, right here, right now.
So what would happen if you did this little exercise a couple of times a day? That might be a great experiment – just try doing this 2-3 times a day for 2-3 minutes each time for a week. What you might find is that little by little, you will begin to experience more peace during your day.
If you do this each day for a week, when you look back on the week, you just might find that the week was characterized by a little more peace than “normal.” And if you keep this up, you just might find that you have more and more peace during your day, during your week, in your life.
Imagine doing just a bit of this for a month. For several months. How about for a year? If you looked back on your life after a year of this kind of regular focus, what might you notice? My experience suggests that you will find a life with a lot more peace in it.
And you would not have to have gone anywhere to find it. Why? Because peace is present! Right here, right now. Inside of you! So, as we noted earlier in several different sections, the question becomes one of focus. That which you hold in your focus you will tend to produce.
There are numerous examples we could have chosen, and I like to start with this one on peace. Most of us would prefer more peace in our lives and yet we allow external events to overtake our ability to produce or experience the peace that is already here.
Many take the approach that there will be time for that later. How much later before you discover that peace never happens later? It only happens now. And the great thing is that if you ignore it for days, weeks, months or years, it is still right there inside of you. All you have to do is focus and notice – become more aware.
As you become more aware, you will notice that you can choose a focus (breathing, peace), exercise that choice (response-ability), experience the outcome (accountability), and build your awareness. Then all you have to do is choose what experience you would like to experience more often and move in that direction.
And almost every time, you will find that the experience you seek is already present.
That’s why so many have said: “The present is a gift. That’s why it is called present.”
Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
Next we will look at how to make this even more practical as we explore the relationship between the ends and the means.
For now, enjoy your gift to yourself – the Present!