Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Inner Peace: Synonymous With Good Mental Health


Having good mental health means that we are in control of our mind, not being controlled by it. Inner Peace is a state where we have taken control of our own mind and are letting it be in its natural, quiet state.  When our mind is in a peaceful state, we make better decisions and simply feel better about our lives in general.  I wrote this article as the second part of my Free Will article a little while back and I hope it helps you gain a little understanding about where to search for inner peace for yourself.  I  use religions as examples of philosophical premises and do not mean to offend anyone's beliefs in any way.


What is inner peace?  Inner peace is simply the quiet space within us devoid of fear and worry.  Finding it is anything but simple though.  We live in a world which gives us little time to look for it.  But don’t kid yourself, there is nothing more important in the world, even though few of us spend time looking for it.  I first want you to imagine what it would feel like to be able to spend even 5 minutes in a place of pure safety, where peace becomes part of who you are rather than just an experience.  Think about your busy life and how wonderful those 5 minutes would feel.  Now imagine feeling like that all of the time.

Although I will discuss ways to overcome fears and remove worry, the most important part of this is to understand that inner peace can only be experienced when we live in the ‘here and now’.   We often deceive ourselves into thinking that the world going on in our mind is real, and it is anything but that.  Everything that goes on within our mind is something that we have created and is not real, only imagined.  So if they are not real, then why do we create these thoughts?

Most of these thoughts come in response to our sensory input and the fight or flight instinct that comes along with it.  The thoughts are our way to understand what our senses are trying to tell us.  Whether there is danger or pleasure to deal with, our thoughts will do their best to help us understand what they mean.  When we experience these thoughts, they are put to the test of values and other comparative thoughts so that we can create a better understanding for future occurrences. 

When we don’t stop at times to work away at and process these thoughts, they eventually overwhelm what our processor can accomplish, and our inner peace is taken away.  Depending on the frame of mind in which we are in, many of those extraneous thoughts will be processed on how we feel at that time, as opposed to being based on facts and pure truth.  These overwhelming thoughts block our ability to use our free will in a proper way.  Free will is not only a gift given to us, it can be wielded metaphorically as one would wield a sword.  Free will gives us the ability to inject change into our environment, whether good or bad, and the more powerful our will is, the more powerful the change will be.

Once we have found inner peace, wielding our free will becomes much clearer and much more decisive in its actions.  Fear keeps us from finding inner peace, so therefore a more thorough understanding of fear will help us find it.  Most of you have heard of the term ‘fight or flight’, but very few people truly understand its meaning.  When we are presented with any situation, we have instinct built into us that tells us immediately whether we should stand and fight, or that our best chance for survival is to run away.  We will discuss the fight concept more thoroughly since it is the one that will help us dissolve some of the fears that we currently hold.

Humans for the most part have become very good at following the flight instinct and it is helping to weaken us a species.  Times where we would have stood and fought in the past, and now we run away without a second thought.  We do the same thing within our minds and brains, and this is why people live with so much fear and anxiety.  Part of my reason for writing this essay is to inform people that it is time to once again stand up and fight for good once again.  Don’t shy away from everything or you will be doing it for your whole life.  This includes the fearful thoughts that envelop our minds on a daily basis, and give us anything but inner peace.

The flight instinct is helpful when our survival is threatened but can be very unhelpful when it compounds our fears instead of facing the ones that we are very capable of dealing with.  It is time to pound on the fight instinct inside our own minds.  Take control of the fears that overwhelm us and face them one at a time.  Once fears are faced and dealt with, they tend to stop plaguing our thoughts.

Give it a try, sit down in a quiet spot and try to concentrate on nothing for 5 minutes.  If anyone can accomplish this without distractions from within, well you don’t really need to read this in the first place.  For those that cannot, try to focus on one or two of the thoughts that will not leave you alone.  If it is helpful, write them down.  Once we identify these thoughts we can begin to identify why they are troubling us, and how we can quiet them once and for all. 
  
Why is inner peace so hard to achieve?  The relationship between inner peace and enlightenment makes it easier to explain.  Most of us have heard the term enlightenment and many of us will equate this to understanding Buddhism.  The Buddha achieved enlightenment and then taught others how to achieve it as well.  Enlightenment is true and pure inner peace, also known as 'Nirvana'.  It is a quiet spot within us that is like nothing else we will ever experience.  When we find it, we find a place of silence and beauty that we could never truly experience in the physical world.

That's right, inner peace and enlightenment are found within the mind and body, and transcendence is found within our spiritual realm, our connection to the energy world.  If we cannot quiet this spot, then the other two connections of mind and body will not be able to be truly calmed either.  Scientifically speaking, we can discover many quantifiable facts from both the body and the mind, but trying to understand the parts that we cannot describe with our 5 senses is much more difficult, and often unbelievable. 

We talk about the ideas of enlightenment and transcendence as though they are magical or words from a fantasy book, but they are much more real than most of us give them credit for.  Because these terms are harder to understand and prove than things that are tangible and material, science tends to brush them aside as though they are meaningless because they provide little to no fact.  This is where we need to open up our minds so that we can better understand what other connections and attachments we have within the physical world.

Whether people want to believe that these things are possible to understand or whether they are real does not matter.  I will tell you directly to keep searching for them because there is no doubt that they are there.  Some people pray, some people meditate, while others simply sit quietly asking their silent questions to some unknown being or energy.  We all know there is something we are trying to reach within us, but few are able to identify what it is.  Because we know it is there, we never stop trying to find it, and if that is not proof of something tangible then I don’t know what is. 

Billions of witnesses will describe this in differing ways through their religions and beliefs, but each will do their best to discount the beliefs of others who see things differently than they do.  We are all searching for the same thing and the world would be a much nicer place if people would simply realize this.  Each one of us is looking for that pure comfort within ourselves where there is no worry or fear.  Some call this God, some call this our spirit or soul, and thousands of religions have different names for what this is, not who this is.  So if there are all these witnesses to this invisible entity, then why can we not consider this to be factual information.  Scientists certainly do not like dealing in qualitative evidence but they must see the pattern here and epistemology of it.

So that is where we begin!  Creating a realization for ourselves that the invisible thing we are searching for within us is the same for every one of us.  If you cannot consider this to be real and factual you may want to stop reading this now.  Without that understanding we cannot realize the truth that is hidden here.  And yes, I do use the word hidden.  It is not easily found so therefore it must be something that we are either not supposed to find, or it is something that we are meant to find but it is the search for it which is important.  If we are not strong in our search and our results are not sustainable then we will not be successful in our long term journey.

So now that we have accepted this as fact, let us now delve into what that fact is and how we can develop a deeper understanding of it.  First we need to find it, because once we find it, the hard part becomes holding on to it.  Finding it is the easy part and we can all do that within a few seconds of stillness.  What we will work on is how to hang onto it longer and longer each time we try.  Once we can grab on to it and hold it at will, we will live in a state of enlightenment, and will be able to transcend this noisy world we live in.

It is amazing how often I sit with someone and try to teach them math or English, and how they do not have the ability to focus on me or what I am saying to them.  I like to explain to them how their brain and mind work through metaphors and analogies.  I use the concept of a computer having a browser window open in their brain which in turn has several and many tabs open.  Each one of those tabs is another invasive thought that has not been dealt with and how each one slows down their processing system, just like on our home computers. 


“The nature of your mind is quiet; the nature of your being is well. “ (Neill, 2013)
Pause and think about these statements for a moment.  If we are doing anything other than simply being well, then we are going against the force of nature.  So why are we not well?  I can assure most readers that if you truly look around yourself and observe others, you will see few people who are completely well.  As stated above, “the nature of your being is well”, and therefore most people are going against the grain of their natural state of being.  We can see the effect so now we must identify what is causing this.

If the statement above is considered to be true, then the cause of unwellness could be directly linked to the noise our minds.  If our minds are not quiet we cannot truly be well.  So we end up back here where we need to figure out how to quiet the mind in order to be well.  Humans have been searching for this answer for thousands of years so I don’t offer and magical answers to this issue, but I will add as much insight as I can to aid in eventually finding it. 

Inner peace is what we find once we have quieted the mind and settled our internal energy.  There are thousands of methods that have been created in books, blogs, journals and other writings and they all seem to involve some sort of meditation.  Many people will try meditating but few seem to reach a state of meditation.  There are too many distractions in the world but the worst ones are right there in our own minds.  We can block out sounds around us in different ways but blocking out the sounds in our own minds is where the difficulty is.

How do I quiet my mind and which methods do I use?  I am doing one of them right now, writing.  This is a proven method for clearing extraneous thoughts from our minds.  Once the words are inputted somewhere the mind can take a break from thinking about them for a while.  We can input them on paper, digitally, by voice, or the biggest of them all, we can put them into our personal memory banks to be sorted later.  This is the one we are all trying to do every day but most of us remain unsuccessful in this endeavor.  This is where meditating becomes so very important to our personal state of wellness.

This is where we need to begin in emptying out our minds.  Emptiness becomes much stronger with the help of concentration.  As we empty our minds we become calmer and our feelings of inner peace become much stronger as well.   We begin to focus on those quiet moments between our thoughts and realize that they never seem to stop without effort.  Make the effort, practice and you will begin to find these moments more easily each day.

I suggest writing in a journal to get those thoughts out your head, or maybe talk to someone close to get those issues off your chest.  I recommend this to my students so that they can better focus on what it is that they need to learn.  It is an excellent short term solution that can also become a good long term solution as well.  

We will talk about mindfulness, breathing techniques and other healthy ways to focus your mind on the present, as we move forward.  If I can help you find 5 minutes of peace each day that you did not have before, then you are already successful.  It becomes a good addiction.  You will want more peace and more control over your mind, and good mental health will be the result!

Be Well 

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