Finding Inner Peace

ross bishopFinding inner peace can be difficult. We meditate, do yoga, read books, go to workshops, learn mantras, hang affirmations on our refrigerators and yet we remain troubled. What are we missing? Is it just that we are not sufficiently spiritual? Are we not doing it right? That is how it feels much of the time.

Years ago I learned about spirituality through Zen meditation. I sat morning and evening, religiously (if you will pardon the pun), seven days a week, at least twice a day. I got calm, my breathing deepened and the world slowed down as I began to focus on what was really important in life. My friends noticed the changes occurring in me. I went deep. I touched a place of inner peace and calm I had no idea even existed.

Bliss? Hardly. It scared the heck out of me! I had to quit for a while. I had never known that level of openness and feeling that vulnerable shook me to my core. It would be some time before I had the courage to go that deeply or feel that vulnerable again. Fortunately, the experience planted something so deep and powerful in me that I could not ignore. I had to pursue it. So here I am, 30 years later, eternally grateful for an experience that literally scared the daylights out of me. But the fear I experienced then is the same fear that keeps most people from finding inner peace today…¬†continue article

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Finding The Truth

by Ross Bishop
We are surrounded by the bustle of daily life, and although everything that happens here is real, the question we need to ask ourselves is, “How much of it will last?” The answer is, “Not much.” The only things you will carry out of this world are the greater awareness and compassion your life experiences have taught you.

Probably ninety-nine percent of the stuff we worry about is of little real consequence. In the first place, most of the things we worry about never happen. And the rest, the stuff we struggle over, other than presenting opportunities to learn from, is transitory, at best. This is because our beliefs and ideas are all disposable as are our “accomplishments.”

That is actually fortunate because the foundation many of us have built our lives on is fairly suspect. We believe some pretty awful things about ourselves and our behavior is a reflection of those beliefs. So, you ask, “What are we here for?” The answer is to learn greater compassion (for yourself and for others).

But, your life experiences (your present childhood and past lives) have convinced you that you are unworthy. So going inside to find the truth poses a problem. You don’t really want to see what you fear might be inside. You know what you can become when backed into a corner, and you fear that this may be who you truly are. That’s the problem of living from the ego. It leads to the wrong conclusions.

Besides, you don’t want the hassle of having to face your feelings of inadequacy. That’s why you turn to externals – truth from a teacher or a book, for example. That feels safer. Some people go from teacher to teacher or book to book, looking for answers. And although teachers and books can help illuminate the way, they are still only signposts, not the path itself.

There is another problem with externals – no matter how good or insightful they are, they remain just that – outside. Until you integrate them and make them your own, they remain someone else’s beliefs. But the answers are never “out there,” they are always “in here.” Rumi wrote:

This is certainty, O Beloved:
I am hidden in the Hearts of the Faithful.
If you seek me, seek in those Hearts.

First of all, he didn’t say have a successful coaching practice or some other business. In fact, he didn’t point to anything worldly. He didn’t even say “read this manuscript” or “study with this teacher,” or “join this religion.” He was saying, “If you want a map, you’ll find it in your heart” – in your God connection. And if doing that poses too many obstacles, “find it in the heart of someone who knows God.” (not to be confused with religion.) The way isn’t a set of theories to be learned like you did in school, it’s a practice to be lived.

The currently popular, “Fake it ’till you make it,” approaches to helping our inner pain are appealing because they avoid confrontation with our fearful inner ones, but in avoiding that conflict, they do not address the deeply held beliefs that drive our behaviors.

Truth comes in many disguises. Don’t pre-judge it or close yourself off to an opportunity to learn. How often have you turned away from the truth because it came in a package you didn’t care for? The truth makes you anxious because it calls into question what you have been doing. It challenges the ego-based beliefs you hold and the life you have built around them and you don’t want to hear it! It’s easier to blame other races or ethnicities when their values challenge ours.

I know how difficult confronting your past experiences can be. I have been doing it with clients for over thirty years, and think I have learned a thing or two about the process. First, the reason you have had difficult life experiences is because of the predominance of the ego in your life.

The ego isn’t exactly a bad guy. Your ego-based behaviors are a safety mechanism. They hold you back until you are (mostly) convinced of the truth and feel safe enough to move forward in spite of your fears. But a life run by ego is going to cause problems. It must. That pain provides the impetus for change. Otherwise, you’d just go along creating difficulties for yourself and those around you.

When you have a problem you blame it on someone – often yourself, for being inadequate. That’s the ego running things. But you don’t blame the ego! But then when life presents you with opportunities to change your beliefs, you shy away from them because you feel unworthy, further reinforcing your feelings of inadequacy and solidifying the ego’s hold. That guarantees the eventual creation of a crisis that will bring you face to face with these same issues but without giving you any way out other than through compassion.

The only thing worse than not facing your beliefs today is to put them off until tomorrow. Because these things only get worse when you ignore them. That is Universal Law! And, you are going to have to do it eventually, anyway. The only question is, how much difficulty are you going to create for yourself before you surrender your beliefs?

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2014

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