THE FIGHT FOR INNER PEACE
Just after spending a week reading inspirational material and deciding a thought-provoking blog would help others address the issues in their lives, I started a workshop on Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The thrust of the first chapter focused on NOT THINKING. Thinking, he said, is our ego taking over. If we want a life of peace and joy, we must focus on not thinking – on being!
Well, having already published two (what I hoped would be) thought provoking blogs, I chuckled at the irony. Caught in the pincer between thinking and being, I tried thinking my way out, then silencing my mind and meditating into a state of being. If you recognize this conflict, I’m sure, like me, you are laughing. Adding punch to my dilemma I had just listened to an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on his book Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age. In it he emphasized the importance of movement and change to keep one’s brain young. I had decided my big change would be doing things with my left hand.
So now we have Tolle arguing for stillness and a state of being – Gupta extoling motion to keep us thinking, so the controversy expands.
This morning convinced recognizing my children and comprehending the contents of a book was of paramount importance as I aged, I deliberately did everything with my left hand, beginning with eating my breakfast. I am so right-hand dominant a two-year-old could beat me in a left-hand arm wrestle, so this meant every task took longer. I dropped, spilled, fumbled, even took a fork in the lip – all time-consuming acts. I called patience, usually far behind the lines in my life, up to the front, and battled on. Cleaning my teeth left-handed took tremendous concentration, turning over the 1000 pieces of the new puzzle I started demanded patience. As I focused on the task at hand, my brain quieted. Thinking crept across the line waving a white flag. Being accepted the surrender. Things I concluded opposed each other, came together in an unexpected way, helping me grow new brain cells, while I quieted those already at work. Doing the tasks left-handed had bonuses like body building my patience, and by requiring total focus, silencing my thoughts. Thus my presence emerged, conquering ego. How delightful! What joy I felt as my essence – the energy that is me, emerged from the conflict between thinking and being.
Others in the Tolle workshop expressed their futile attempts at quieting their minds. I’m a worrier, list maker, cogitator some described. Others said they talked out loud to themselves throughout the day. Yet another concluded her thoughts were needed for stimulation and to fill time. Hmm. Any of these habits makes turning off the faucet of your mind difficult. Yet, if you can suppress the flow of thinking to the odd drip, you find quiet and inner peace. I suggest you change something you do so the act requires your total attention. Gupta advised picking a new route for your commute or a walk through the woods. You might alter the type of material you read or try playing a different game. I know I will continue picking up my fork with my left hand, until eating that way no longer requires total focus and quiets my mind. I hope you, too, make a change and discover the joy of being.
Hi Madelon….Interesting article. Jumping to the chase, I broke my right arm almost a year ago and I had to immediately start using my left hand/arm for most everything…you are so right….almost every act or activity puts you in the moment. I still can’t comb my hair on the right side with my left hand, dressing is still difficult however I am so thankful, grateful that I have such strength and ability in my left. Old habits die hard….still try to eat with my right hand/arm and immediately transfer to my left. Works well…although I have to say that the inner peace is often replaced by a little swear of frustration. I certainly would recommend your way of finding inner peace opposed to tripping over the threshold of a carpet store. xoxo
Part of my thinking for using my left-handed more often is a proactive way to prepare for that carpet. I’m sorry you learned the lesson by force, not choice, but sounds like you gained from it. When I get frustrated and voice a curse, I catch myself and say “I am not putting good into the world – with the emotion or the word. Then say something positive or loving instead. I hope it balances out.
I too am thinking about less thinking. I have started a huge new project with 100 dangling threads and a ton of computer time. Suddenly my monkey mind is in overdrive. It is yapping/reminding/shaming/fuming constantly. As the noise increases in my head the chaos grows and focus blurs. it is always the contradiction for me that when I am busiest I most need to stop and take time to mediate, be mindful. That investment of time will provide the energy and focus needed to be efficient in my work. Instead my childhood voices kick in and tell me to ‘get busy, don’t stop until it is done, work hard and you will accomplish it…” The doing at work.
A perfect example of how we must fight for inner peace. Our ego is the enemy, its armament extensive. The win here, is that you recognize you are under fire (yes more military words), but we are in a battle. A peaceful mind is a great victory.
Thank you for putting words to my constant battle to remind myself that in order to be productive, slowing down is how to arrive at productivity.
I really enjoyed your piece. I did want you to know that the word “fight” immediately made any hope of PEACE impossible.
The power of all those military words that we use in our everyday language is astounding – Thoughts become things.
I deliberately used the word FIGHT in the title, because I think we fight so many things to arrive at peace, from social mores, to inner conflict.
After reading this and the comments I fear my mind is locked in neutral as I rarely find I have these thoughts. That in itself is a frightening position to be in. I better get Dr. Sanja’s book to get my brain thinking about something!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A quiet mind is what many spiritualists and philosophers tell us we must strive for. Possibly you’re ahead of the pack. My thoughts are meant to stimulate others, and they did cause you to think about yours, so I am happy.