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And now for today’s inner peace conversation.
The Shadow Side of Inner Peace
On my way to yoga, I’ve been listening to an audio program by Pema Chodron speaking about the traps interfering with spiritual awakening. There are many. One that stood out to me was “chasing” certain emotional states. (Like inner peace?)
Since “everyday inner peace” is the focus of my brand and business, one might mistakenly believe that I believe “inner peace” is about striving for and living in a blissed out state of inner peace 24/7.
Not only does chasing “inner peace” interfere with spiritual awakening, it interferes with inner peace itself. Inner peace is actually the by-product of awakening.
I’m not one of those people who believes that “feeling good” all the time is the goal in life — or of “everyday inner peace.” (Some “law of attraction” teachers do.)
I believe real inner peace (and spiritual awakening) comes from seeing reality for what it is or isn’t without resistance. Or as Pema Chodron says, “living life without fear.” Fear is certainly one major form of resistance, right?
Life without resistance and life without fear is easier said than done.
In fact, we could get depressed at this definition when we get honest and notice how often we’re IN resistance — aka overwhelm, anger, self-doubt, fear or frustration. Right?
Hello. Am I back in spiritual kindergarten?
I found myself initially feeling I’d really gone backwards in my spiritual life when I started listening to Pema’s CD’s. Yeeeeeesh! Overwhelm, anger, self-doubt, fear, frustration? Oh yeah!!! Diaper pails FULL of it!
Yeah, yeah, I KNOW a lot of strategies back to inner peace — and trust me, I’ve used them over and over again during the last 15 months as I’ve been finding my way with 2 new babies in my life — while striving for some sense of balance. Also easier said than done.
Yet, one of the greatest paths back to inner peace is remembering the principles of awakening. Since I’ve been reading and listening to more parenting books and CD’s than spiritual ones, I’d lost touch in many ways with the consciousness of inner peace.
Perhaps the most important of those spiritual principles is to greet each feeling, emotion or challenging situation with the same curiosity as any present moment…without resistance.
Last night my baby girl, Shanti, had her biggest meltdown ever. She even refused to eat dinner, except for the 10 peas she eventually let me put in her mouth nearly 45 minutes after dinner started. She was SO upset!
I’d been on the phone with a friend facing divorce. It was an intense conversation and I took in a lot of the heavy emotions. I suspect my sensitive little girl did too. Plus, she has a cold. God bless those stuffy little nostrils. Regardless of the cause, she was in full-on meltdown mode.
It took quite awhile to calm her down, but instead of feeling frustrated and getting upset that nothing was working — I simply started “breathing” in her emotions, and breathing out love and compassion and presence. You may recognize this as the practice of Tonglen. Gradually, we all came back to that inner calm.
Tonglen is one of the beautiful ways to “be with” another’s upsetting emotions. We can also be present with our own upsetting emotions in a similar way. We can feel into whatever emotion is alive, get curious about it, be present with it… have compassion for ourselves, and allow it to be there without resistance to it.
Gratefully, my own emotional meltdowns are fewer and further between these days — after being nearly weekly those first 6-9 months. Maybe 12? I forget. But, even last week, I had the opportunity to “be with” ovewhelm, self-doubt, fear, anger and frustration. Seems my emotions like to visit as a family unit. Maybe yours do too.
While inner peace is a beautiful barometer on how we’re doing in life — and on the path of spiritual awakening — it’s equally important for us to embrace the shadow side of inner peace to get there. That includes all the stickier, and less preferred emotions that need our love, compassion and presence too.
The next time you or a loved one is upset or otherwise in resistance, practice a little compassion and love. We can’t escape our humanity, but we can meet it with open hearts.
Remember to share your questions and answers to the survey below.
Here’s to your inner peace,