Recently I’ve been paying more attention to how I can be more at peace with myself and those around me. Notice I said “more” at peace. It is important to recognize and celebrate
the fact that we already know what it is to be at peace. After all, it is an innate capacity. We all come here with the ability to be at peace. We learn to access it through the feelings of security and comfort that arise from the quiet sounds of a prayer or a lullaby. We seek those same feelings in the protective embrace of those we trust. We form habits that nurture our own innate capacity to make wise decisions in chaotic times. We learn to develop a faith that no matter what calamity may occur, in time it will pass and peace will come again. For me, every morning, just before my mind gets caught up in the “to do’s” for the day … just before I’m trying to figure out what to wear … just before I tune in to the noise of the day … there’s a moment of peace.
When I take notice of this moment I begin the day in a state of gratitude. I take the time to ease into the day with a cup of tea and some easy listening music. Already I’m “more” at peace. I’m grateful that I took the time to notice the day, and everything else seems to fall in line. It occurs to me that I know what I have to do today and so I know what to wear. Alii have to do now is begin, and in truth I’ve already done that, in peace.
Some days I fall into the trap of thinking, “Why can’t I do this every morning?” Or, “What took me so long to figure out a better way to start my day?” These thoughts of regret and blame are distractions that take me out of the moment, out of the peace of the moment. Then I realize, “I’m not stupid. I just got distracted by a stupid thought.”
When I can see that, I can laugh at myself, and the peace of the moment returns, immediately.
In essence, I have learned to forgive myself for having insecure thoughts. I recognize them as insecure because of the way I feel.
When I’m insecure my perception is clouded and my state of mind, the quality of my thinking, is totally ineffective. I create my own chaos and I’m filled with feelings of sadness, regret, guilt and sometimes even shame. It’s my innate default setting, the desire to re-establish peace of mind that restores my faith in me and reminds me to take a look at the other side. Then I can begin, in gratitude, to review the blessings in my life.
Gratitude comes from a joyful, secure state of mind. It has a restorative influence on our perception and the quality of our thinking. In gratitude we can see ourselves clearly without
blame or judgment. Our thinking is filled with acceptance and compassion. We can forgive ourselves and our insecure thinking and we can learn how to forgive ourselves for that same kind of thinking about others.
Whenever I indulge thoughts of blame and judgment of others, I experience those familiar insecure feelings of sadness, and regret. The feelings are clues to the quality of my thinking
and I realize that it is clouding my perception and my state of mind. Seeing that clears the way to gratitude and eventually, once again, I am rewarded with compassion and understanding.
For years I held on to thoughts of blame and judgment for my parents and their lack of foresight when it came to saving for my college education. My anger clouded the victory they must have felt when I graduated with high honors, when so many were dropping out of high school to get jobs to help their families through the tough times. I never celebrated the sacrifices they must have made to pay for band uniforms and instruments and drama lessons and all the other extras. What they gave me was a foundation to believe in myself and that prepared me to work my way through an even higher education of fortitude and possibility. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Learning to forgive ourselves for judgmental thoughts of others releases us to the ultimate peace of mind.
Sometimes I marvel at how great it is to see life in this way. I expect that as I continue on this journey I will continue to be distracted by momentary insecure thoughts. But I have learned to embrace the faith that no matter what, I have the innate capacity to experience gratitude. I seek more moments of discovery of how good life is, how good I am, how good we all are, how much we have learned, how much we have done with our lives, how much more we can accomplish, and how much more peace of mind we can give to each other.
By Tracey E. Carruthers