“Peace of mind happens the moment you choose to be peaceful with any situation.”

This is the time of year when we wish peace to others and happiness in the year to come. And though throughout the rest of the year, we may not voice these well-wishes out loud, I believe that everyday we all wish for peace and happiness. We relish in moments that offer us glimpses of calmness and clarity ~ a sense of well being. Perhaps this sense of well-being derives from the fact that the natural state of the mind is calm-abiding and peaceful. So, when we experience these moments, all seems right ~ things are as they should be.

And though, we are all effecting toward a sense of well being, we go about it in a misguided manner and as a result we are riddled in chaos, restlessness, stress and anxiety. This restlessness is a consequence of a life driven by selfish desires rather than by our inner discriminatory voice. We are programmed to believe that if we do more, we will be more (words from Andrew Rivin). Countless hours are spent “doing” and grasping at things, whether they are experiences, people or things, in an attempt to satisfy our desire for happiness. We live grasping at “more” and at ideas of “better”, “harder”, “faster” all with the hope of a happier life.

The problem with selfish desire is that it causes us to look outward to feel inner serenity. Sri Chinmoy says that desire is anxiety ~ anxiety that arises out of a need to have something. And so we end up in this cycle of satiating our desires and feeling fleeting moments of happiness/satisfaction, until the next desire arises. Our mind moves from its natural state of calm-abiding to a state ceaseless fluctuations.

Soon, through our own self-reprogramming, we live our lives in a reactionary auto-pilot mode subject to the whims of our selfish, desiring and lower mind. In this process, we weaken our discriminatory faculty and soon lose all connection with this inner voice of wisdom. We become slaves to the environment and circumstances around us, believing there to be a connection between a stimulus and the response. Not only do we put blinders on our judgment, but we limit the parameters of our lives as this delusion has limited us to our own selfish desires.

In contemplating this delusional dilemma, Eknath Easwaran says “all we have to do is master our thinking process and change our response to the environment.” We learn to do this when we start to turn our attention inward, slowing down the mind in an effort to break the chain of conditioning. When we bring our attention to the mind and its many whirling thoughts, we are better able to identify the “optical delusion of consciousness” in which we have been living. As we learn to quiet our mind, we gain more clarity and are better able to live in a detached manner. We are able to sit in the pause and use our intellect and discernment to formulate our choices ~ “Time is the greatest of all filters…Time is a filter that heals, pacifies, and teaches.” Path of Fire and Light II.

As the mind starts to settle, clarity rises and we awaken to the everyday wonder of life, seeing all of life’s ordinary moments in an extraordinary manner. We better understand that freedom in living does not some from satisfying selfish desires, but instead it comes with the ability to discriminate, choose and live responsively rather than reactively. True freedom comes when we strengthen our discriminatory faculty and no longer live at the whim of our selfishness. For the problem is not in desire itself, but in selfish desire. Happiness, peace, calm and serenity are cultivated from the inside and are not dependent on external stimuli. Herein lies our misguided efforts, as we grasp to external sources for internal solace.

So, in keeping with the tradition of this time of year, I wish you a calmer mind, a strengthened buddhi, a pinch of detachment, selfless desire and remember ~ the measure of your happiness is proportionate to the goodness of your will ~ you are as happy as you want to be.

Namaste ~ Shari