Most of us think we are rational beings and that we contribute peace to our world. Are we peace or chaos in our world? This is a question to be pondered and reflected within. We normally think our world as something existing outside of us. However, if we look closely, what makes up our world?
What Is The World?
We see the world with our eyes, and we listen to the sounds and taste the different cuisines of the world. We also touch the different objects we come in contact with wherever we are. But when we travel with a companion to another part of the world and share the same experiences, why do we emerge with different opinions about the place?
The same goes for people living within the same culture or a city. Why are opinions so diverse? Even twins, they look the same, live in the same household but think differently from each other. Scientists have no straight answer for how twins can turn out differently when they have identical genes and grow up in the same environment.
This shows that genes and external objects do not necessarily make up our world other than how we think about the world. Our thoughts and how we perceive based on past experiences shape our world continuously. So, it isn’t what happens out there in our external environment, but what and how we think about our environment that builds the world.
Who Causes The Chaos?
There are certain players in the world we like to point to for causing much mischief in the world. Indeed they do – such as dictators and terrorists or the bully in your school or workplace. But how much attention are we giving them to encourage their mischief? For example, if a lying politician is always lying, why does the media give him or her so much airtime and attention? If the media reduced the amount of attention on lies and opinions and instead report objectively, there might be less divisiveness globally?
But, it could be ourselves who are giving undue attention to events and pointing to these events as giving us stress and anxiety. So is who is causing the mischief for our anxieties? Let’s do a little experiment.
Are You the Peace You Thought You Were?
I would like to invite you to find a quiet space in your home and take your mobile phone and set the timer to ring in 15 minutes. Then, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe in and breathe out gently, without force.
Whenever your mind wanders away, bring your mind back to your breath. You can feel your breath when you breathe in and out in your abdomen. All you have to do is to breathe in and breathe out for 15 minutes and to notice when your mind has drifted away and bring it back to your breath.
Read the below after the breath exercise…
Were you able to pay attention to your breath for 15 minutes? How often were you able to rest your mind on your breath? Did you know where your mind wandered to and what it was thinking about?
The Restless and Dull Mind
If your answer is that you are unable to pay attention to your breath for 15 minutes, and that you did not really know what your mind was wandering about, don’t fret. This is a normal experience for many people.
During those 15 minutes, there was nothing happening in the quiet spot where you were sitting. The only thing that was taking place was your breathing in and out. Your mind might have drifted away without you being aware of it. It may have taken you a few minutes to realize before you could bring your mind back to your breath. This is the restless mind at work. Is a restless mind a peaceful one?
The other scenario could be you find yourself dozing off during the 15 minutes breath meditation. Most people who are not meditators fall into either of these categories. This exercise shows the two extremes of our minds – its restlessness and dullness. The thing connecting them is the dream world.
We live in a state of forgetfulness most of our lives. Even when we are awake, we are dreaming – creating dream worlds from distractions. Even what the media feeds us are creations of someone else’s dream. You can find them in the news and entertainment alike.
Living In A Dream
When you start a meditation practice, you will begin to realize over time how much the mind dreams. It enjoys planning the future or reminiscing the past – both of which have nothing to do with the present.
There could be something you need to do in the near future. But it could be planned and then put aside. But when you sit down quietly to rest your mind with the breath exercise, you may find an image of your planning for an event come to mind during your meditation.
Whatever we give attention to plays out in our minds like a movie. Including the content of a chat with a friend to what we had spent time thinking about. Knowing how these things enter into the mind, it is wise to be mindful and alert to what kind of thoughts and things we allow into our mental world.
Be the Peace You Want to Be
When we learn to calm our minds and actually feel peace within, our world becomes a better place. What takes place in the world externally has come from the hearts of men and women. The troubling thing is, most actions taken in the world are from dreams and not from a state of wakefulness.
The day you are able to calm your mind with regular meditation practice, you will begin to feel you have the potential to be the peace you want to be in the world, rather than its chaos.
An 8-week mindfulness course can help you kick-start learning to calm your mind. We offer workplace mindfulness as well as online courses.