Peace Behind the Thoughts
Peace is the focus of the month at the yoga studio I teach at, Yogaja Yoga.
I question, what does it mean to feel peace? Peace is defined as the state of tranquility or quiet, such as freedom from civil disturbance or the state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom.
It has also been defined as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.
I see the first example as something external, something we cannot directly control. The second definition, however, is internal, that of which we can control. By working inward on yourself you will inevitably produce results externally and those results can inspire others towards change. This is where it starts. By looking inside first and then leading by example.
We can’t control our external experiences. We can control our reactions to them. We can be the leader for peace. We can lead by example. By finding peace within ourselves, we are more capable of showing others the way. If every person made it a priority to find a little bit more peace in their lives each day, the world would be a much different place. Instead of spreading fear, we would all be spreading love.
My colleague, Erin, wrote a wonderful article about arming our future generations with the gift of peace in an effort to derail the mass shooting epidemic in schools we are currently facing. She thinks bringing yoga and meditation to schools will solve this problem. I think it is a brilliant idea and perhaps a way that awakening is supposed to spread in this country.
Finding peace and serenity amongst your busy life can seem impossible but all you have to do is be still. Find a comfortable seat and just be still. To protect the mind from wandering thoughts you can use a mantra or a hand mudra. You want to connect with the space behind the thoughts. Deep inside your own being is where peace can be found within you.
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between your true self and your monkey mind. We all tend to identify with our thoughts and believe that our thoughts make up who we are. However, this is not true. You are the thinker and not the thought. How do we know this? We know this because you are able to observe your thoughts. In that way, there is a subject/object relationship. You cannot be your thoughts because you are the one observing them.
The book, “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer, explains this very well. It talks about how you are essentially stuck in your head with a roommate. A roommate that never leaves. One that likes to give you advice, even bad advice! Most of the time you are listening to this roommate reacting to their every word. Did you know you don’t have to react to the voices in your head? It is so liberating and empowering to observe your thoughts and just let them be. Not reacting in any way gives your true self more awareness.
Yoga Sutra 1.2 -Yogash citta vrtti nirodha
In English, this is translated as “Yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness”. In this yoga sutra, Patanjali reminds us that we need to diminish the chatter of the mind or the vrttis in order to witness our true self. Staying in the present moment will help us find peace. The minute we start reacting to the thought of what we are going to have for lunch, is the minute we lose this presence, this peace.
To find the space behind the thoughts one must also practice mindfulness and meditation. When you sit down to meditate you might be confronted with your monkey mind but fear not because you are already observing this if you notice. The act of observing and asking for help to cease the fluctuations of the mind and brings you that much closer to your true self. I like to use the mantra “let go” in my meditations. As you inhale, mentally say “let” and as you exhale mentally say “go”. Saying this mantra over and over again to distract the mind from your thoughts.
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there, buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.”
My wish for this world is that everyone learns how to access the peace within. It is buried deep behind the thoughts. If you find this place, share it with others.
Let us paint the world with peace!
I would love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to comment below if you have anything to share :)