I have been obsessed with inner peace since I was 18. I remember that in the meditation sessions I participated in some university centers of Opus Dei “to be at peace” was the only thing that I prayed for even if I did not really understood what I meant by it. I could also not pinpoint where that thought came from or how I learned about the concept of inner peace but I had an awareness at 16 that I had anger issues that I could not comprehend where they were coming from. Taking a peace and conflict subject in undergrad, I learned about the social context of peace. But it was still an abstract kind of peace - I know that it is there, but it was not fully meaningful to me.
After graduation, the quest for inner peace continued - this was inner calm. It is not exactly the one I’m practicing now which is the ability to manage thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It was just thinking that I have to stay calm or else suffer consequences. This should actually work if my mind actually believed in what I was thinking. Any tiny sliver of doubt would shatter and dispel my “calm” thoughts.
I ask myself now, what does it mean for me to have inner peace. I define it now as understanding and acceptance. Either understanding or acceptance alone are not enough. If I understand something, I understand it as something as is and it is possible for me not to accept it. For example, I understand why there is conflict happening but I do not accept it as the resolution that should have risen.
On the other hand, there are many things that we do not understand but we decide to accept. On acceptance alone, sometimes we “accept blindly” without fully being aware of the context. “I accept your apology” you say to someone who may have hurt you but in fact you are still hurt inside. We do it to keep appearances and maintain the facade or illusion of “okay”. Even if in the short run we accept this as true or genuine, there may be triggers along the way that would instantaneously, or even instinctively pull out from memory the narrative associated with the certain unpleasant incident. This simply means that we have not fully sorted it out. You have not understood your “acceptance”. A handy trick that a former boss told me is that when you remember the event because of a trigger, you no longer react they way you did before. In fact, the event is neutral and the meanings we attach to it are what makes us weave certain narratives.
The journey with inner peace starts with understanding and accepting that you are enough. That you already have everything within you. You do not lack anything as a person. One just has to cultivate what one wishes to bring out into the world. As children we were all loving, fearless, non-judgmental creatures. It just so happened that some of the characteristics get amplified while others are suppressed depending how we were honed in our developmental years and how we managed or were able to go back and reflect upon these things. For example, you are love even if your parents were unable to shower you with love. What happened here is the expression for love was just suppressed but you have the potential and capacity, upon noticing and knowing, that you can cultivate it.
10 years later, can I say that I have inner peace? I will say yes, for the times that I was able to win over my anger and judgement; for taking notice and distancing myself from emotions, thoughts, and feelings and learning where these are coming from. Otherwise, no for the times that I succumb and act on them. What is more important is that I have tools at my disposal to enable the capacity and ability to navigate my ordeals,and to know that I am always capable and that it is always possible to choose to be at peace over every other option.
- I understand and accept my past. Without all experiences, I will not be who I am today.
- I understand and accept my present, the product of my past, the only space where I have the opportunity to work on what needs to be done in order to give way to an envisioned future.
I am still on a journey to develop an unshakable core.
The ride within is the best adventure yet. All the best.