30 Nov Peace & Poise Amidst a Chaotic World?
Perennial Wisdom has long held that one of the primary goals of life is equanimity or poise in the midst of conflict. The Master, Jesus once said “Be in the world, but not of it.” An old, eastern adage states: “Before enlightenment— chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment—chop wood, carry water.”
These sayings are not meant for monks or for those who have forsaken the world, but for the everyday person in the world who searches for peace in the midst of daily strife.
Maya—illusion, or God’s powerful dream of creation— lures us to sleep through desire and to neurotic wakefulness primarily through fear and anger. Depression and mania are the two mood swings of the modern soul in the world. Submission and domination are the two major abuses of power no matter what time or clime.
The way out is the way in and the way in is the way out.
There are sitting meditations of inhaling and exhaling while fastening to a word. There are moving meditations like tai chi and chi kung (qi gong) that have been known to cleanse the neurotic ego consciousness by the channeling and harnessing of subtle energy.
Although I have used both of these methods for many years, I have found particularly useful a practice which came intuitively to me one day, which I call “meditation in action.” Of course, this phrase is not new & has been used for millenia in a variety of disciplines. But today let me share with you a specific and helpful exercise that I’ve found helpful:
I become aware —after any interraction in the world, such as, driving, child rearing, a misunderstanding with a partner spouse or friend—of the energy drain from my response of fear, anger or repression of an uncomfortable emotion I’d rather not face.
I say to myself, “What can I do(differently) now?” and then, “How can I be (differently) now?”. This is not about the other person—friend or stranger, spouse or child. This is about me. I am changing the energy of this moment . . . now.
I feel the freedom of this moment where I have taken the responsibility for my internal thoughts and feelings and external actions. I breathe in the bliss of this instance where it doesn’t matter what “they” have done or what “they” have said. For a second I step out of the clutches of maya—that place where my neurotic self vibrates out of balance, with a lot of static and is drained of precious and valuable energy . . . and I step into Thisness.
I ask myself: How long did it take me to move from a neurotic response—such as, “I hate what is happening now” “What do they think they are doing?” etcetera to . . . Being and (Simple) Awareness?
I call this the “recovery time.” The less time it takes to arrive at this state of poise, equanimity and peace, the more that I know I am getting somewhere . . . Here. I am tasting and glimpsing and touching upon the truth of why I must learn as a human being how to “be in the world but not of it.” The result of this art is peace that is at my core . . . living and breathing in a low fire of bliss . . . Ahhh . . .
Step 5. *(Optional: when you am more intensely “hooked” into illusion or when Step 4 is ineffective)
In extraordinary crises, such as direct confrontations, when the intensity of your anger spikes and you can feel the flush of blood pump, an obvious increase in blood pressure, and adrenalin is shooting through your nervous system, it is important to become aware as quickly as possible of “shallow” breathing or breathing from the chest.
By using your awareness and will, bring the breath downward to the gut, slowly relaxing the stomach muscles as you inhale. Then, fasten your awareness to a silent word on the exhale. If you have a mantra, use it. If you do not, use the numbers “1,2,3,4”, exhaling one number at a time, then repeat as needed until you are grounded and calm enough to return to Step 4.
Let me know—should you choose to incorporate this method into your daily spiritual practice— if it helps.