Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding Peace in My Own Life

I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson - to conserve my anger. Gandhi

What does it mean to have "peace" in our lives. I'm not really in a position to influence international events. I need to keep it on a more personal level. To me, peace means to maintain an emotional balance, without anger or frustration, but with plenty of love and compassion and joy.

Something interesting just happened to me. Two people that know me pretty well said that I have changed recently. They both said that I am calmer and don't get as upset about things as I used to. That's interesting because I have been trying to change, but 50+ years of habits are not easy to modify. I hadn't internalized yet that I was making much progress.

My dharma lessons teach how to substitute one emotion for another, less anxious, one to reduce anxiety and negative emotions. However, I don't think that is exactly what I have been doing. When I think back to specific examples of how I have been avoiding negative emotions, my thoughts weren't about substitutions. They were more like "I don't need to get angry about this. It's not worth it. I don't like to be angry."

For example, I was asked to help install a new cable modem on someone's computer. The installation software wouldn't install properly, the directions didn't match the screens that came up, and it was just a real mess. I spent some time online looking for help, but couldn't find anything useful. I calmly put the modem back in the box and said that just wasn't going to happen today.

In another example, I had a doctor appointment recently. The appointment was for 3:15 PM. When I arrived (on time), the receptionist told me that the doctor was "running a little behind." If they bother to say that, it means that the doctor is running really late. Two years ago, I would have been angry and I probably would have rescheduled the appointment so I wouldn't have to sit there too long. This time my thought was, "OK. That gives me some time to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet." I finally got to see the doctor at 4:50, more than an hour and a half late. I didn't have a minute of anger or anxiety.

I have been teaching meditation, blogging about meditation and tai chi, and encouraging everyone that I know to begin meditation. There are hundreds of studies over the last few years that show the benefits of meditation. And now I have started to see results in my own life. What great news!

© 2011 Eric Borreson