Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul. – Marcus Aurelius
What does that mean?
To me, this quote is a bit of a double edged sword. If your soul (to me, this means our inner self, our mind) isn’t calm, then it might not be an ideal retreat.
But, on the other hand, if it isn’t, you know on what you to start your self-improvement, right? And there is always room for improvement for all of us.
To me, this quote is about introspection, and the peace to be found therein. The world is full of distractions and difficulties.
With a properly trained mind, you can find refuge from the noise and tumult within yourself, a safe place which is always available to you.
Why is a calm mind important?
Your mind can be a reflection of what is going on outside yourself, or it can be a reflection of what you wish the world outside yourself was more like. Is that a world full of noise and trouble, or a world full of quiet and away from trouble? Which would be more helpful to you?
A calm mind can be your port on a stormy sea. A calm mind can help you analyze, more rapidly and more accurately, a situation. A calm mind can lead you to better, more complete decisions. A calm mind can help you navigate in a sea of emotions, and safely come to a useful conclusion.
Compare how life could go when you have a calm mind to the the way things could go with a mind a bit less calm, or even completely lacking in calm. Does that help answer why a calm mind is important? But those were some of the big things, the most troubling times, the stormiest of seas.
Now imagine how much easier the rest of your life could be if your mind was calm. What if all the little annoyances could be brushed aside with minimal effort? A calm mind can help you achieve that, if you work on it.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Think of a time when your mind was a bit less than calm, and you made a decision you later regretted. Then think of a time when your mind was more calm, and you were able to resist making a premature decision, and made a better choice for yourself. A calm mind can be quite an asset, right?
Back to the quote, where such calm and peace within is a refuge from a loud or troubled world outside ourselves. Have you ever been able to reach within for a brief bit of calm in a hectic day, or found solace from the troubles at work or home? A calm mind, a quiet and untroubled soul is a great refuge, right?
But where do you find this wonderful resource within ourselves? For me, it started with a combination of meditation, introspection, and prayer. We will each find our own path, but the point is to find and calm the beasts within ourselves. It might be anger, jealousy, hate, or any other less-than-helpful emotion.
Now that you have an idea what loud and troubling beasts lurk within you, how do you get rid of them? I found that they were a habit, a repeated pattern of behavior. I found myself getting angry because I thought it was the proper and most effective way of dealing with frustration or disrespect.
For me, to change the habit, the pattern, was to try to find times to react in a different manner. This requires conscious competence, or recognizing that I am not doing the right thing. It’s not easy, but it worked for me. Each time I noticed I was getting grumpy or tense (my initial steps into anger), I would find a way to divert my focus from my anger.
I would make excuses for others to soften the blow, perhaps they were having a bad day, or that I shouldn’t take it so personally. I would change my focus from what happened to me to something else, anything else. The more it made me feel, the better it worked. Stunning sunsets, verdant meadows, kittens and puppies, whatever it took to wash away the anger.
What might help you calm your mind, to quiet the beasts within you? The same techniques I used to help quell my beasts also help me deal with lout and troubling times in my life. After your boss is done yelling at you (and not during), take a moment and watch a sunset or a puppy pile playing. In a noisy situation, hear your favorite music in your head.
The world outside of you is also outside your control. You can’t force it to be quiet. You cannot force it to be less troubling to you. But that which is within you, your soul, your spirit, your mind, that is within your control. Take control of yourself and what is within you, and you can build a peaceful retreat for the troubling times in your life.
If it’s good enough for a Roman Emperor, it’s probably good enough for you.8)
From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius#Book_IV 4th entry, variant translation
photo by UK Ministry of Defence