I have learned in the past couple of years that nothing ever stays the same. Even after we start practicing mindfulness, we have our good and bad days.
People often tell me that sometimes they are still anxious, even after practicing peace for such a long time. They feel bad for it and want to eliminate it completely. But the truth is that anxiety, just like any other human feeling, cannot be eliminated completely. Because it is natural. And there’s nothing wrong with it, just like there’s nothing wrong with any other human feeling.
I have my own set of fears, just like everybody else does. Sometime I feel like my mind just picks a random worry off its big shelf of worries to bother me with. The shelf is never empty, it always has something to throw at me. I don’t think it will ever be empty. And that’s okay.
What I realized is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the shelf is full. It doesn’t matter what the mind throws at you. And I’m going one step further: It doesn’t even matter what life itself throws at you. Because there is only one thing that matters, one thing that determines life.
And that is how we react to it.
This was one of the very first reminders I’ve written in my meditation diary: “Life is determined by our reactions to it.” Because many things are out of our control, even our thoughts sometimes. But what will always remain in our control is our reactions. And through our reactions, we make life.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine a person who is scared of public speaking because of what people might think about her. That’s a very common fear. Now imagine that person going up to speak and messing up in the worst possible way. This is our main situation. There are two ways to go from there.
She either collapses mentally and scolds herself for being so stupid, never really getting over it, making it into one of her most horrible memories. Or she can shrug it off, accept with peace that it happened and move on. Will anyone in the audience care? No, everyone will forget after a short time. Of course they will, because it’s not a big deal. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Nothing is nearly as big of a deal as our minds make it out to be. It’s good to remember that, so when the time comes, we can choose to react with peace. What happens doesn’t matter as long as we choose to react to it with peace. Because whatever we react to in such a way will become a peaceful experience.
This is one of the most important things I’ve learned and I still remember what a freeing experience it has been to realize it. I don’t have to suffer. I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to worry. I can choose to react with peace. To anything. Inside and outside of me.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” is one of my favorite quotes. Because it’s so true. Things will happen, everyone goes through pain, hardship, bad thoughts, uncomfortable feelings. But those don’t determine a life. What determines a life is how we react to all these things. Because that makes all the difference in the world.
(A guided meditation on the same topic can be found here:
“Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” – Lou Holtz
With all the craziness of modern life, it is well to take a few moments off for meditation. Check this out:
Eckhart Tolle’s Meditation For Finding Inner Peace
Eckhart Tolle TV
Eckhart Tolle TV is dedicated to providing you with the resources to put his teachings into practice everyday to transform your life, which ultimately transforms the world. In his GPS Guide below, Eckhart Tolle shows you how to find inner peace through meditation.
lzf via Getty Images
Eckhart Tolle’s profound, yet simple teachings reveal a path to inner peace and true happiness. These teachings have helped countless people throughout the world awaken to a vibrant joy and greater fulfillment in their daily lives.
This GPS Guide was inspired by Meditation on Eckhart Tolle TV, which features Eckhart Tolle and his partner, Kim Eng’s teachings about meditation and practices to help bring awareness to the present moment.
“The fact that breath has no form is one of the reasons why breath awareness is an extremely effective way of bringing space into your life, of generating consciousness,” Eckhart explained. “It is an excellent meditation object precisely because it is not an object, has no shape or form.”
Take a look at Eckhart Tolle’s guide on meditation and finding inner peace below.
Eckhart Tolle on Meditation
In this video, Eckhart talks about how our minds may have ideas about the ideal environment for meditation, quiet and tranquil, conducive to relaxation. He points out that whatever sounds or disturbances we encounter during our meditation are part of the experience.
A Guided Meditation With Kim Eng
In this video, Kim guides us through a meditation to help us stay present, rooted in our bodies, while we notice our thoughts and emotions pass.
How can you tell if you’ve found your calling? As a doctor who was called to medicine at a young age but then wound up disillusioned by the system, questioning my calling, I’ve asked myself this question a lot. It’s been a long strange trip- first leaving medicine, then feeling called back, then leaving again only to find my role in healing our broken healthcare system as a writer, speaker, revolutionary, and teacher of physicians. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about how to know whether you’re on the right track.
1. You’ll realize you’ve been training for your calling since the moment you were born.
Even the gritty things, the disappointments, the regrets, and the screw ups, they were all prepping you for what you’re now being called to do. You’ll realize that the divorce, the bankruptcy, the death of your loved one, the failure, the rejection- it was just school, teaching you the lessons your soul needed to learn in order to be who you’re being called to be.
2. Mystical things will start happening.
You might be tempted to write them off as coincidences, only they’re too perfect, too exactly what you need in that particular moment, too much like miracles to call them accidents. The synchronicities will fill you with a sense of wonder, because they’re proof positive that you’re being guided, that you’re not in this alone, that Someone is moving mountains to ensure that your mission is a success.
3. When you get off course, you’ll get redirected.
Doors you longed to walk through will slam shut. If you take the wrong fork in the road, your path will be littered with barbed wire and mustard gas and dragons and sharp knives lining the path. You will get the hint that you’ve made a wrong turn, steering yourself off course from your date with destiny, when the journey becomes a relentless struggle. The deal will fall through. The money will run out. The mentor who’s been providing the magical gifts won’t follow you onto the wrong path. People won’t sign up. You’ll be rerouted just as magically as you were steered to your calling in the first place.
4. You’ll be guided by ease, even in the face of obstacles.
When you find yourself struggling to get through an obstacle-ridden forest, it can be hard to tell- is your commitment just being tested, or have you veered off course? Obstacles can be part of the growth process, the cultivation of your inner hero, a necessary part of your hero’s journey. But they can also be signs that you’ve made a wrong turn. How can you tell the difference? The guidepost you can trust is a sense of movement towards ease. If the challenges are mounting, things are getting worse, one hard struggle is piling upon the other, you’ve probably gotten seduced off course from your true calling, and the Universe is just waiting patiently, twiddling Divine thumbs because you have free will, but never giving up faith that you will find your way back to your calling, which will always lead you to your own holy grail. When you’re back on track, things start to flow again.
5. Magical mentors will appear just in the nick of time.
Just when you need it most, the right people will show up, with just the tools you’ll need to support you and your journey in an almost mystical way.
6. Your health is likely to improve.
A strange but welcome side effect of finding your calling is that your health is likely to improve. You may notice fewer cravings for unhealthy foods, you’ll have more energy for moving your body, aches and pains that used to plague you might disappear, you’ll feel less tired, and chronic illnesses you may be battling may start to get better.
Take Andy Mackie, for example. At 59 years old, Andy Mackie had undergone nine heart surgeries and was taking fifteen medications to try to keep him alive, but the medicines left him feeling horrible, so one day, he told his doctors he wanted to stop the drugs. They told him if he did, he would die within a year, so Andy decided if he was dying, he wanted to do something he’d always wanted to do. So he took the money he would have spent on his medications and used it to buy 300 harmonicas, and he gave them away to children, complete with harmonica lessons. The following month, he was still alive, so he bought another 300 harmonicas. Thirteen years and 20,000 harmonicas later, Andy Mackie finally passed away.
7. You may find that money flows in just as you’re ready to throw in the towel.
I’m not suggesting that you won’t wind up in debt or staring at an empty bank account when you used to have a full one or even bankrupt. But if you’re on the right path, you won’t wind up living under that freeway overpass near what used to be your house, and you may find that money appears almost magically once you’re really right in the dead center of your life’s purpose.
8. You may feel strangely peaceful, even when you have every reason to be anxious.
Everyone around you will likely think you’re crazy. A part of you will agree with them. But a wise inner knowing, that part of you I call your Inner Pilot Light, will be so comforted by the fact that you’re finally on the path to your purpose that you may feel unusually calm- until your rational mind kicks in.
Our souls long to express what we’re here on this earth to express, and when you finally fall into alignment with your calling, your soul does a little happy dance. It may appear as if everything else in your life is falling apart, but you’ll have this sense of peace, a huge relief, that at least- finally- you know what you’re called to do.
9. The Universe will roll out the red carpet.
When what you’re being called to do is what is needed for the highest good of all beings, the Universe will bend over backwards to hand you whatever you need on a silver platter. No request is too small. A copywriter may volunteer to help you just when you were thinking you needed to write a sales page. Someone will donate a printer when it’s time print a flyer. You’ll feel so supported, so lucky, that you’ll know you’re on track, even if you’re not quite clear what you’re on track to do.
10. Your people will find you.
Few can fulfill a calling alone. Most of us need a tribe to lift us up as we do brave, scary, world-changing things. But don’t worry. When you’re really on purpose, your people will find you, if only you’re courageous enough to be vulnerable about what you’re being called to do.
Do Any Of These Sound Familiar?
Have you found your calling? Or are you still looking for it? If you’ve found your calling, YEAH! The world needs you! Blessings to you on your hero’s journey.
If you haven’t, don’t worry. We won’t leave you hanging. Martha Beck, Amy Ahlers, and I recorded a free 90 minute teleclass to offer you tips on finding your calling. (You can listen to the recording here.) We’re also about to start a whole program Find Your Calling: Awaken Your Life Purpose, Clarify Your Vision, and Do Your Soul’s Work
The demands of daily life often require too much of us, and I’ve noticed how many of us try to meet those demands as though our reserves are endless. But they aren’t.
Our energy, our mental focus and our sense of balance need time and space to replenish themselves. Most importantly, we need a daily quiet space to process. Many people don’t take any quiet time for themselves until they fall ill, or until their life is a mess; by then the window for a proactive approach has passed.
We need a daily quiet space to process our experiences and to find meaning, direction and inner peace. Some people process quickly, their minds well-practiced in the art of emotional intelligence, their experiences are met with perspective. Others process slowly or perhaps not at all proactively, absorbing and hoarding their experiences without perspective like the proverbial bathtub that fills with water. Without taking quiet time to process and gain insight, the water overflows and you become a reactive mess of anger, frustration and victimhood.
There isn’t a a natural time in our waking hours when we can be quiet, notice and allow insight to bubble up from within. There are simply too many distractions. You have to deliberately carve a place for quiet in the midst of your busy days. Quiet, oddly enough, requires emotional maturity, a deliberate choice, and discipline. Our minds can be like children that continually crave excitement, distraction and needless input. They need to be told “no,” at least twice daily, and for 30 minutes each time.
If you have a hard time making time to meditate or process, remember that this quiet time is not time to do nothing. It’s time reserved for a very empowering activity.
In order to live life proactively, you have to take time to to tune in and let go. Ironically, you need to pull back and close your eyes in order to see things more clearly. Like the tide that rolls in and then retreats, like nature that blooms and then withdraws, we must also recognize that as we take time to flow forward, we must also take time to retreat. Your retreat helps to ensure that what’s next will be more fruitful and enjoyable.
Motherhood and age have given me the gift of being an early riser. I enjoy waking up in the wee hours of the day, well ahead of everyone else. At four or five in the morning, I tiptoe through my still quiet house, my boys and dogs lost to their dreams — unaware that I’m up and about. The phone doesn’t ring, and nature lies quiet beneath the still, shining moon and stars. No one needs me at this time of day, and I’m grateful to be awake in the stillness.
What to Do With the Quiet.
1. Begin With Gratitude. Though a quiet walk can sometimes be just as beneficial, I find that meditation is a powerful protective practice. Morning is my favorite time to meditate. Sometimes I begin without moving out of bed, thanking God for the many blessings in my life, one at a time.
2. Make Sure You Have the Right Setting. Other mornings, concerns tumble over in my mind like whitewater over river rocks, and I have to get up and move downstairs for a change in energy. Life always looks better once I get into the half-lotus position. Lying in bed somehow keeps the thoughts endlessly circling.
3. What to Do When Your Mind Is Busy. My goals for meditation differ from day to day. Ultimately I’d like to have a quiet mind, a serene sense of inner peace and a clear sense of direction. Some days, those things come more naturally than others. Some days, thoughts and concerns present themselves to me, nudging me for their attention. So some mornings, the goal is clarity. Concerns pulling at your mind are not worries to be watered with emotion, but elements of life that need to be figured out. Use them as the basis for your morning meditation, by transforming them onto a path of spiritual awareness. Rather than feeding your concerns with worry or trying to suppress them, ask God what you need to be aware of, what you need to learn in order to heal and move beyond the situation. Be prepared to take responsibility.
4. What to Do When the Mind Is Still Busy. If the answers won’t come, or if perhaps your frustration is too prevalent to let go and open a space for them, try remembering that these thoughts are just thoughts. As they come up, acknowledge them and then let them go. Release them to God, the angels or some other higher power to help release your attachment. As you release them, say a quick prayer to receive the insight and resolution you need. Sometimes letting go is all you need to do.
One morning last week I spent about 30 minutes meditating before I got out of bed. I then went about navigating the morning chaos of making breakfasts and lunches and getting my kids off to school, an exercise that is akin to nailing Jell-O to a tree. When I walked toward my yoga class a few hours later, a man spoke to me just before I got to the studio door. “You’re absolutely serene,” he said. “You have this peacefulness about you that just radiates.” Though it’s not necessary, it is nice when your internal practice shows up on the outside as well.
Making the time to process is a protection exercise for your mind. Without it, you will become overwhelmed and angry, and ultimately feel depressed. Rather than allowing yourself to be harmed in that way, protect yourself by making time to process, and empower yourself to live life proactively.