Everybody wants a happy life and a peaceful mind, but we have to produce peace of mind through our own practice. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
This quote starts out with a fairly straight-forward premise. We all want to be happy, however we might define that state. We also want a peaceful mind, free from fear and anxiety. Hard to argue with that.
The quote then goes on to say that peace of mind isn’t granted by a government agency or some outside authority. It says that we have to get it for ourselves, and that it is a skill which requires practice.
I found it interesting that the quote (at least in this form) doesn’t mention the ‘happy life’ portion of the premise. But how happy a life can one have if your mind isn’t free of fear and anxiety?
I can’t imagine living very happy life under that kind of mental stress, can you? While peace of mind isn’t the only thing necessary for a happy life, it can certainly make an otherwise happy life a bit less happy, right?
Why is peaceful mind important?
Can you imagine what life would be like when you mind was constantly in a state of fear, always anxious, waiting for something terrible to happen. Even if it is all imagined and not real, life is going to be rough.
I imagine each of us have spent at least a little time in that spot. Even something as simple as waiting for the results of a test, be it medical or at school, can lead to a lousy couple of days of anxiety, right?
There are all kinds of chemical changes in a body which is under that kind of stress, be it fear, anxiety, or other forms of stress. That can make it a little more difficult to find happiness. The last thing we need is another obstacle to happiness.
There is also the idea that a peaceful mind is calm and quiet. Whether by meditation, relaxing in the bathtub, or watching a sunrise (or sunset), taking some time to clear the mind of worries and clutter has worked well for me.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Spring cleaning for the mind is an interesting concept. The trick is to do it more than once a year. When I find my mind ill at ease, wrapped up in the stresses of the average day, I try to find something to help my mind relax and unwind.
How often do you get to the end of the day, and find your mind calm and peaceful? If it is a regular occurrence for you, please (PLEASE) leave a comment on what you do, how you do it, and what your attitudes are, the rest of us would really like to know!
For everyone I know, a peaceful mind at the end of the day is a rare thing. Usually, the mind is somewhat less than peaceful without some kind of plan or method. That isn’t to say the default state of the mind is other than peaceful, just that we tend to make it difficult to get there.
For my parents, the method to quiet their minds usually involved an adult beverage and winding down while watching the local news or their favorite late night comedy show. What did your parents do to calm themselves at the end of the day?
Oddly enough, writing this blog is one of the ways I unwind at the end of a stressful day. In order to write, I have to get my mind off my own situation and focus on the quote. Sometimes stress can creep back in, if I am having trouble with finding a picture to go with the quote, but usually it is a very relaxing and peaceful experience.
Take a moment and think back through your life, and especially the last few months, for times when your mind has been very peaceful. Well, perhaps skip the vacation as a reason, but consider what you did, and how you might apply it to your non-vacationing self.
You might not be able to take a walk on the beach every day, but can you find somewhere to take a stroll, if you thought that was part of what helped you calm your mind? What other things help bring you a bit of peace? Grab some paper and write down your list.
My wife loves to take a long bath with a good book. I tend to relax with my favorite tunes and mindless labor (dish washing, yard work, etc). What did you come up with? Hopefully you have at least three or four ideas you can try, to see what works best for you.
Now consider what others have said relaxes them, and what you have seen on TV or in movies which look like they would help calm the mind. Consider adding them to your list. Now all that remains is to try them out. I would put the list somewhere that can be easily found.
Next time you feel stressed out, or your mind in an other than peaceful state, break out the list and try something. Be sure to write down how well it worked, and what you might want to try next time to make it work better for you. That part is very important.
The quote states, in no uncertain terms, that a peaceful mind comes through our own practice. Let’s get busy!