“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
I’m not perfect. I’m not even good sometimes. I can be rude, fearful, petty, prejudiced, and whiney. I can be easily provoked and overly sensitive. I imagine or create problems that aren’t even there. I can, and often do, let my baser emotions take over. And the worst of it is that I repeat the same behaviors and have the same thought patterns over and over. What, then, do I do? What, then, do we all do? Tonight I found an answer and it started near Wal-Mart.
I had been with my girls a good portion of the day. I was tired and I was spending more money than I’d wanted to spend. Obviously I love my children, but there comes a point in my day when I need a break. I wanted to go home and write. I wanted the constant noise to stop. I wanted peace. Then I remembered that while external peace is wonderful, internal peace is far more valuable. Then I remembered something else. I remembered The Power of Now. I’ve read or listened to that book at least a dozen times. I have it on my phone, on my iPod, and as collection of CD’s. I have at least two copies of the book. I once said that if I could only have ten books, I’d want two copies of The Power of Now in case I lost one.
Every time I listen to it I get something new from it, or I am reminded of something from the book. Tonight I remembered to focus on the inner body. This is a wonderful practice that can be done at any time and anywhere. All one has to do is focus inwardly. That’s it. Breathing slowly can help, but it’s not necessary. It will come naturally. But that’s what I did. I focused on my inner body. Soon I began to feel joy welling up in me, coming out slowly, like a fountain that had been plugged. Then without being able to help it, by the time we got into Wal-Mart, I started smiling. I noticed how hilarious and beautiful my children were. I noticed people were friendly and smiling. A young couple seemed so content with each other. If there was anything wrong in that Wal-Mart, if there was anything that wasn’t beautiful, I didn’t notice it. I felt so much love. I also felt, without an ounce of self-condemnation, foolish for fears I had had earlier that day. I just smiled at that person with my name and body who was so afraid. I told him that his fear wasn’t necessary.
Most of all, I felt love. Love for God. Love for others. And love for myself. I felt, as I always do when my fear is gone, a deep love for my Muse. Just reflecting back on this moment, which was only a couple of hours ago as I write this, I feel more joy. I feel my longing for my house on the beach without feeling anxiety about not knowing how I will get there. I feel content. I want to read and write. Most of all, I feel gratitude, for God, for those who love me, and for all the goodness in my life. I also feel, and again without an ounce of self-condemnation, some sadness for all the time I’ve wasted in being negative in any way, especially in complaining in word or thought.
The other day I was at another store and I became aware (after listening to The Power of Now on my iPhone) of all the beauty around me – flowers, trees, the colors of all the fruits and vegetables, even the different patterns in the sidewalk – it was this huge grand tapestry of artwork and beauty…at a grocery store! Beauty is all around us. And it’s with us and it’s in us. God’s presence is available almost instantly. In fact, He never leaves us. We just aren’t always aware of His presence. More accurately, we are rarely aware of His presence. Peace takes practice.
I’ve been reading or listening to The Power of Now for about seven years. The first time I read it, reading only the first few pages, I was overcome with this incredible peace, unlike any I had felt in years. It lasted for a week without stopping. This peace was, I believe, a gift from God He wanted to get my attention, not through suffering, but through joy. He wanted to let me know I was on the right path.
I’ve been on that path ever since.
I’ve also strayed from it often.
But I’m aware of my straying more often, too. I know how to get back on the path. Peace takes practice. In my case, a lot of practice. But I know how to Get Started and how to Keep Going. I know I can be an alchemist and transmute the lead of despair and fear into the gold of love and joy. I can do it. Anyone can do it. And knowing that makes me even more peaceful…and maybe perfect.