“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama
My quote of choice on my Facebook page is “Everywhere I go, there I am.” I’ve never changed it and every time I see it I feel a sense of, yep, still fits. Here I am, my own common denominator to life. Sometimes clean and clear. More often a noisy tangle of mental gymnastics coupled with a persistent low-grade sense of anxiety.
Have you ever had the experience of not being able to relax, to quiet the to-do list in your mind, or still the foreboding sense of worry in your body on that first day of vacation? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared over my toes from my beach lounger out at a turquoise-crystal ocean and between the rhythmic sound of the tide been having a conversation with myself that goes something like this: “Did I remember to turn the out-of-office reminder on? Oh, so-and-so is going to be really pissed when he/she gets that alert. Oh, I forgot to send that check, was it due on the 23rd or the 3rd? I wonder if I should call so-and-so and just remind him/her about the meeting on the 8th…I sure hope the kid next door remembers to feed the cat. I wonder what she would eat if her bowl went empty? Oh, whoa, I’m here at the beach. I can turn off. Everything is handled and taken care of. Take a deep breath. Let go. Let go more. Oh, but that email I forgot to send…No, breathe. Get present. Remember the big picture. Look around. See how immense the ocean is. Remember your eternal nature. Ahhhh. Stillness…Hmmm, I wonder if I should have paid so much to upgrade the rental car …”
And so wherever I go, there I am. And I often will pause in a moment of beauty and wonder and take a snapshot in my mind. And embody gratitude. I like to practice holding myself in full present moment awareness to soak in wherever I am. And over time I’ve come to discover that, while breathtaking natural surroundings certainly can lift the mood, my true sense of peace and pleasure in any given moment really comes from my internal landscape. I have been over-the-moon joyful in not-so-inspiring surroundings and I have been miserable beyond belief in the middle of some of the most gorgeous places on Earth.
Often I see students come to their mats with a sense of wanting something from outside themselves to heal them, to settle them, to cure them of whatever it is that they believe is causing them discomfort and suffering. It is when I see those students draw their awareness inside and bring breath and movement and the healing light of consciousness, compassion and self-forgiveness deep inside their bodies, minds and souls, that I know they have begun to find the true path to peace.
So know that you can start right now, right here, wherever you are on the path of peace. Take a deep breath. Address yourself with compassion, forgiveness and appreciation. All is well. Each moment is new with no mistakes in it. And when you allow yourself to open to the realization that nothing in the external world can truly generate joy for you, you must first grow calm and whole within, you stop grasping, your mind slows, you relax and then you may carry peace with you wherever you go.