If I told you that peace can be found in a quiet room, between a stack of books at a library, in a sunlit copse of trees, on a boat in the middle of the ocean, or perhaps even in the smell of lavender or coffee, you would probably believe me, right?
Because in our minds, these are peaceful things. They seem to invite us in, they are quiet and comforting, and, whether we realize it or not, we expect them to grant their effects instantaneously. For example, wrapping your hands around a warm mug of coffee on an autumn day with the steam rising in your face is going to immediately transport you into a relaxed, if not comatose, state, is it not?
But unfortunately, peace can’t be found in a thing. It can only be found within you.
How do I know this? Well, as you know, I’m struggling to keep my blood pressure down, and one of the biggest problems I have is that I keep thinking about how high my blood pressure is. Which, as you could have guessed, raises it further (maybe if I stop talking about it every night on this blog I would see a difference?)
And if you’ve ever been told not to think about something, then I don’t have to tell you that it’s all you think about. So, knowing that I simply need to calm down and stop dwelling are two different tasks. But nonetheless, I’ve attempted to seek peace to lower my BP. I’ve hummed my favorite songs, counted my breaths, and even tried yoga positions in the shower, to no avail. I keep telling myself, All you have to do is calm down. That’s it. If you just relax, you won’t have to feel this way anymore.
Which is all fine and good. Except, telling yourself to relax is like trying to tell an elephant not to be so large. You can’t help the way you are made. So, I have also turned to the initial methods that I described: envisioning a calm ocean, sipping on tea or coffee, and smelling lavender to distract me further. Also to no avail.
Of course, we all have a hard time realizing that peace is simply inside of us. Because we think, If I can just set the kids down for a nap or If I just take a long weekend next week or If I just drown myself in good music and good books then I can become centered and stay afloat.
But my body knows that isn’t true, and so does yours. Because the more you try to ignore your problems (like blood pressure) with meaningless images of quiet rooms or trees or situations where you can “finally” kick back, the more you stress out by trying to get there, ignoring the present moment completely. If you stop trying to find peace, ironically, you’ll find it.
Why? Because you will already be living it.