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Is it worth your peace?

Posted on May 08 2016

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“If it is peace you really want, then you will choose peace.” Eckhart Tolle

I always come back to these words. When I’m anxious or irritated, perplexed, frustrated, annoyed, impatient, unsure, angry or unhappy, I always come back to these words. No matter how powerless I feel in a situation, I never stop thinking that I have a choice. There are so many things that we can’t control in life and yet there is one thing we can always control and that is how we react to whatever life or people throw at us.

“Is that so”?

Eckhart Tolle tells a story in his book A New Earth about the well respected Zen Master Hakuin, who lived in a small town in Japan. The teenage daughter of his next-door neighbor became pregnant and while being questioned by her angry parents as to the identity of the father of her child, she pointed the finger at Hakuin. Her parents angrily confronted him, telling him that their daughter had confessed to him being the father of her unborn child. “Is that so?” was all the monk would say.

Word spread and the Zen Master lost his reputation and a lot more. When the child was born, the parents demanded he take the child into his care since it was his responsibility. He responded again, “Is that so?” A year later, the teenager remorsefully confessed to her parents that the real father of the child was the young man who worked at the butcher shop. Her parents, feeling guilty went to apologize to the monk and ask for forgiveness. “We are really sorry. We have come to take the baby back. Our daughter confessed that you are not the father.” “Is that so?” is all the Zen Master would say as he returned the child to the family.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all tap into a place where nothing could disturb our peace? Wouldn’t it be absolutely life changing if we could be that stream where no matter how many surface ripples are caused by people throwing pebbles at us, we still remain calm at our core? It may be easier said than done but it isn’t impossible.

What is so important to have the power to make you unhappy? Is that annoying co-worker really worth your peace? Is the guy who cut you off in traffic worth your peace? Whenever I find myself in a potential “peace stealing” moment, I do three things:

1. I take the soap bubble test

I put whatever problems cornering me at the moment in individual soap bubbles and then I ask myself, if I got scary news about a death, accident or illness in that moment, would the bubbles stand? Of course not. They would dissipate into thin air. It’s important to be aware that we are always going to be surrounded by soap bubble moments. We experience so many trivial “problems” that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

2. I fight the urge to fight back

Whenever someone does something that hurts us, our ego gets dinged. We think they’ve taken something from us and we have to fight in order to get it back. News flash, no one can take or add anything to who you already are. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a permission slip to become a doormat. There are times when you have to stop the party to speak your truth. The difference between that truth vs. a revenge of words is in how much awareness you’re carrying around. For a split second, it might make you feel better to show them who’s boss but again, your reaction doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. Your perception of loss is an illusion. You don’t gain anything by going after someone who hurt you because you never truly lost anything to begin with.  

3. I choose how I react

Deep inside, I know what’s right. I know what doesn’t matter and I know that nothing is worth giving up my peace for. Most importantly, I know that nothing and no one can make me feel less than I am unless I let them. In spite of this knowledge, I still sometimes allow certain life situations to get the better of me. I try not to be too hard on myself when this happens. It’s preparation for the next time. It’s a path taken that doesn’t have to be taken again. It can be exhausting being a watcher of my actions but the more conscious I am, the more aware I am of the power of my choices. It’s really easy in the end, if it’s peace that I really want, then I will always choose peace.

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