“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Inner peace comes from a state of being,” Evita Ochel told me in our chat. “This is the greatest aspect that differentiates it from most common personal growth topics. It does not come from a state of doing, but a state of being.”
Anyone who has attended a personal development seminar or read a self-help book will know exactly what she is talking about. In an ever-changing world that seems on the verge of a breakthrough to a new state of consciousness, every coach, counselor, and self-proclaimed guru wants you to “take action.” “Grind it out.” “Step up your game.” In other words, do something.
By contrast, inner peace seems downright boring, even lazy. Ochel disagrees. “Although I feel it is our natural state of being, it [inner peace] takes great courage, discipline, and effort to foster and live out at all times in our modern society.”
Here are five lessons I learned from Evita Ochel on inner peace …
“Many of us are very good at convincing ourselves that motivation and ambition are the spice of life,” Ochel said, “and anything that seems opposite to that is lazy or lifeless.”
Ambition and perseverance aren’t in themselves threats to inner peace as Ochel understands it. But if the urge to achieve comes from a place of old hurt, you might be pushing yourself to prove your father wrong … to outdo a sibling … to “show” some bully from your past who has no relevance to your present or future.
You will never prove what you need to prove to these people … so why bother? In a state of inner peace, you do what you do — or don’t do — for no other reason than to express yourself as a divine and infinite being. You have nothing to prove to anyone — not even yourself.
“Inner peace comes from finding the joy along the way no matter what you are doing,” Ochel said, “rather than suffering along the way in hopes of reaching some elusive, final happy place.”
Tip #2. Learn To Be Still
“Most of us spend the majority of our days in physically noisy environments,” Ochel said. “To make matters worse, most of us are caught up in a perpetual state of doing. There is always something to do, and there is never enough time. This is the opposite of what inner peace is all about.”
It’s not a new concept that we need to set aside the noise and exist with the stillness in order to find a state of inner peace, but Ochel stresses its importance. Moreso, she reiterates her belief that inner peace is far from laziness. It takes discipline to step outside of our distracting world — to make the time and create an environment where we can be still.
The path of least resistance in this fast-paced world is to take refuge in being “busy” … but in doing so, we dismiss what our inner voice is asking of us.
“The path to inner peace needs to include a balance of some stillness and silence,” Ochel said. “Reflect on, process, and clear out what does not serve you consciously, so you are not living from it unconsciously.”
Tip #3. Forgive Others For Your Peace of Mind
“I will never forget when I had the great realization in my life that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person,” Ochel said, “but is actually a gift we give ourselves.”
Wow. Talk about profound. We think of forgiveness as grace we give another, but it’s easy to see Ochel’s point when we think about the way that the anger we carry around burdens us. Punishes us. It’s like drinking poison in hopes that the other person will die.
Ochel encourages seekers of inner peace to forgive the people they hold grudges against — even if the person won’t accept your forgiveness, even if they feel no remorse, even if they are dead or inaccessible. Not for them, but for you. So you can stop carrying around the poison.
“Deep down, we are love and we want love,” Ochel said. “Inner peace comes from recognizing that and not holding onto any word or deed expressed by another.”
Tip #4. Master the Art of Allowing
“Mastering allowing means letting each person be as they are,” Ochel said. “Naturally, this is very difficult for us to do as it seems our nature is rooted in wanting to change and control people.”
Ochel raises an important distinction, though — there’s a difference between “allowing” and “tolerating.” We can allow people to be what they are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set boundaries, and it doesn’t mean we have to remain close to them or preserve relationships with them if communication breaks down or boundaries cannot be maintained.
She brings up the example of a partner who smokes. She could accept her partner as a smoker, but if she does not want cigarette smoke in her life, she could communicate and negotiate with the partner to try and create consensus. However, if no consensus can be reached, inner peace means the willingness to let that partnership come to an end.
“When we look around at our world today, very few would exclaim that everything is perfect,” Ochel said. “I mean look at us.”
Nevertheless, in spite of the war, disease, famine, poverty, and climate crises, Ochel encourages seekers to look at everything through the eyes of the divine — even when it seems impossible. We never know what the long-term consequences will be for any situation we encounter, even if it seems to spell nothing but suffering.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow our heart and try to affect change or alleviate suffering. But we must become less attached to the outcome — in other words, less anxious to make the world more perfect through the force of our effort. It’s a losing battle anyway.
“Inner peace drives external perfection, and external perfection drives more inner peace,” Ochel said. “The two are intricately linked together.”
To Ochel, inner peace is a choice — one that we continue to make, over and over again. Fortunately, life gives us infinite opportunities to practice it.
“It may sound cliché, but we really need to be the change we wish to see,” Ochel said. “Instead of changing the external to get what we desire, look within yourself and be the joy, happiness, and peace you may be seeking.”
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