Maintaining Your Inner Peace In The Midst Of Outer Dissonance

Maintaining Your Inner Peace In The Midst Of Outer Dissonance

Photo credit: Hans Vivek, Unsplash

In a world forever changed by recent events, we are challenged daily with the need to restore and maintain inner peace in the midst of outer dissonance. And dissonance is everywhere. Perhaps the novelty of staying home has worn off. Or perhaps the world we are re-emerging into, is not the same as the world we left behind and does not resonate well. Distractions we may have previously used to soothe ourselves during difficult experiences have lost their sheen.

We may try to meditate to reclaim our inner sense of peace, but once off the cushion the reality of circumstances brings us right back to anxiety or irritability. It is perfectly natural to seek relief from these dissonant conditions. And yet, true relief is found not in distraction, aversion or judgment of the outer dissonance; it is found by changing the way we respond to these.

Inner peace does not require us to resist dissonant circumstances or flee from them; instead, it lies in finding a way to coexist with the very things that do not resonate with us.

Deeper wisdom requires us to learn how to be with discomfort. To paraphrase Pema Chodron, one of the greatest misunderstandings of the human mind is thinking that true relief comes from making ourselves more comfortable. The truth is exactly the opposite!

When our efforts to soothe ourselves or avoid external dissonance fail, we are actually ready for a more lasting solution. This is the perfect opportunity to find inner peace in the midst of outer dissonance. We can indeed maintain a sense of tranquility within despite the chaos without, because we have complete control over what we focus on.

Instead of resisting or fleeing outer dissonance, we start changing our response by using the dissonance as an opportunity to become more aware within. We turn towards our internal sensations of discomfort and become intimate with them.

What does it feel like when our outer world appears chaotic, and there’s little relief in sight? What happens when we stop running and allow ourselves to listen to what lies beneath the surface? How do we feel when we move our attention away from the outer dissonance and center within instead? Asking ourselves questions such as these help us to become more present to the eternal nature of consciousness in this present moment.

As we inquire within, we’ll likely find all kinds of mixed emotions at first – our own disavowed, wounded, disenfranchised and wronged parts. These are the orphaned aspects of our being that drive us to look for an external scapegoat or a way to avenge ourselves by projecting our pent-up pain and anger onto others. These aspects may even twist the truth to reinforce our habitual narrative of wounding or victimization.

When we turn within and become aware of these wounded aspects within us, we finally touch on the potential for healing and peace. It is by acknowledging the darkness residing within, that we start to cultivate true honesty with all the aspects of ourselves. And it is in recognizing the discomfort, pain and anxiety within ourselves, that we cultivate compassion for ourselves and all other beings.

This process brings us to the realization that we are all connected at some level. Interconnection becomes a way of being and is no longer just theoretical. We start to understand the statement by Pogo the possum in the Walt Kelly cartoon when he said: “We’ve met the enemy, and he is us.” We recognize that there is good in the worst of us, and bad in the best of us. And we develop compassion for both ourselves and others.

This openness to our own experience makes us more capable of opening to others. We experience less need to turn away from the underbelly of life – both in ourselves and in others. Instead of judging dissonance and weakness while separating ourselves from it, we can look at it with compassion. We become more honest and at ease with our own disenfranchised aspects – getting to know their true nature – and so have greater capacity to meet others there, too. This is the path to true and lasting inner peace.

There are two primary ways we can develop this ability to find inner peace, regardless of outer circumstances: We can learn to remain connected to inner peace regardless of external dissonance; and we can use aversion practice to lessen our habitual reactivity.

By aligning with the deep, unchanging peace that underlies all experience, we become more resilient to the outer dissonance on the surface of life. Instead of labeling and resisting, we can learn to be with discomfort. We learn to refrain from the habit of labeling and judging everything outside our comfort zone, and to simply be with what is. Over time, we learn that we are limitless consciousness, subject only to what we focus on or hold in mind. That is a superpower!

Here is one way of doing it: In your meditation, try sitting 15 minutes without moving. When uncomfortable sensations arise (an itch on your leg, a pinch in your hip), rather than shifting to alleviate it, stay still. In this moment of discomfort, open up to the sensation and allow yourself to relax into it. Notice what happens as you do this. Observe the thoughts and reactions that arise in your mind, yet do not judge or react to them. Simply observe the discomfort and see it as an opportunity to discover something new – your innate capacity to be with discomfort and remain neutral. The more you expand this capacity to remain neutral in the presence of something dissonant and uncomfortable, the more you will be able to honor your inner peace regardless of circumstances.

The second exercise deals with desensitizing your conditioned aversion response. Think of one small thing you don’t like: A smell, a taste, a sound, or a texture. For some it may be the taste of onion, for others the booming music from a neighbor. Pick one. When it appears, rather than pulling away, turn towards it. Put a small slice of onion on your tongue and get curious about the flavor. Or sit right beneath the booming bass and allow its rhythm to play across your mind and body. Whatever your disliked issue is, see what happens when you stop, turn towards it, open up, and invite it in.

As you do that, you will discover different aspects of it to tease apart, turning your distaste into curiosity. With practice, your consciousness will be able to use the very dissonance as a portal to move deeper within until you are able to rest in your core of peace, regardless of outer triggers.

Finding inner peace in the presence of outer dissonance is a powerful practice to help us remain calm, regardless of the tumult in our outer world. It strengthens our inner ability to navigate life without clinging to or resisting the changing scenery and to walk straight ahead, no matter what shows up!

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

How To Apply The Four Noble Truths For A Better Life

The Four Noble Truths represent the Buddha’s fundamental teaching that liberates humans from suffering. These four truths can be summarized as follows:

  1. Life Inherently Contains Suffering And Struggle

Life involves struggle, frustration and suffering in both obvious and subtle forms. Even when things appear peaceful externally, we do not experience permanent satisfaction in anything but may feel an undercurrent of internal anxiety and uncertainty. This is the inherent problem of existence.

  1. Craving Is The Cause Of Suffering

The cause of suffering is craving that stems from ignorance. We suffer because we tend to blame our difficulties on things outside ourselves. We resist the truth that life is impermanent and change is constant – instead, we grow frustrated when the world doesn’t behave the way we think it should and life doesn’t conform to our expectations. We try to push away some things while grasping for others. This process of attachment and resistance stems from our desire for life to be different than it is and causes suffering.

  1. Suffering Stops When Craving Ends

Since we are ultimately the ones that cause our own suffering by perpetuating the cycle of craving and resistance, we also have the power to end our suffering. Even when life is unpredictable and impermanent, we can change the way we respond to it. By awakening to the true nature of our timeless souls, we can end the chase after external satisfaction and permanence, and so end the suffering. In the awakened mind, it is not the suffering that ceases, but the craving.

  1. There’s A Path Out Of Suffering

By embracing the path of right living, we can awaken to our Higher nature. This path involves ethical living, developing wisdom and discernment, and adhering to a personal practice that supports our emerging consciousness. This personal journey of awakening frees us from suffering and ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Most of us struggle with the practical application of these Four Noble Truths. Our human tendency is to avoid all pain and suffering, which only perpetuates our struggle.

Instead, I suggest that we look at the Four Noble Truths as recommendations for right living; guidelines to help us navigate life’s challenges more effectively. By presenting the Four Noble Truths as practical guidelines for living, they become powerful tools to guide our responses to life.

I propose using the acronym AREA to remember the structure of the Four Noble Truths in practical ways: Accept Life As Is, Release Reactivity, End Grasping, and Act Appropriately.

When we respond to these Four Noble Truths in appropriate ways, they will indeed expand our inner area of spaciousness and peace, and ultimately expand the area or scope of our True nature.

  1. Accept Life As Is

When we allow conscious awareness to infuse everything we do, we become more tolerant. We no longer interpret everything that does not go our way as a personalized attack on our ego selves; instead, we recognize it for simply being a part of life. When we experience a setback, we can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth; not as something unfair to be judged or avoided.

The Course in Miracles teaches that it is the meaning or interpretation we give to things, that makes them appear as good or bad; in truth, it simply is a part of life. Embracing the very impermanence of life can foster in us a deeper appreciation for the fleeting and precious nature of each moment.

  1. Release Reactivity

Human neurobiology makes it virtually impossible for us to constantly maintain a state of inner equilibrium without spiritual awareness. Our senses are continuously providing feedback through physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Equilibrium requires us to be with reactivity in a different way: learning how to respond instead of to react. We stop the cycle of reactivity by understanding that sensory feedback loops are valuable messages to respond to; not interference to react to, judge, resist or avoid.

When we experience physical symptoms or pain, our innate reactivity may prompt us to either resist the symptoms with medication or to grasp for some miracle cure outside of ourselves. Instead, perhaps it would be more meaningful to first dialogue with the symptoms for a deepened understanding of what they’re trying to tell us; and once we understand the deeper message, we’ll be able to respond appropriately so the messenger can be released. This process of responding instead of reacting allows us to create more inner space for growth in consciousness.

  1. End Grasping

It is essential to learn how to respond to life’s difficulties with an open mind, free from the conditioned behaviors of judgment, fear or craving. This inner attitude of non-attachment frees us from the endless cycles of attachment and aversion to offer us genuine freedom and inner peace instead. The Sedona Method puts it this way: “Embrace that which you resist, and surrender that to which you cling.”

Relinquishing our positionalities rewards us with freedom from craving. Positionalities are in truth nothing other than learned behaviors and limiting beliefs, so relinquishing them truly opens up space for us to thrive.

  1. Act Appropriately

In shamanic traditions, appropriate action is referred to as “right living.” Appropriate action requires conscious awareness of our inner motives, beliefs and reactions. It nurtures the development of the observer/witness, or our Soul self. It is in aligning with this Higher aspect of being, that we are transformed to live from our full potential.

The more we fine-tune our responses to life appropriately reflect our Higher nature, the more inner freedom, peace and joy we experience. This is the core of all personal growth. Creating a path of appropriate action nourishes us at all levels and honors our true purpose in life – the embodiment of our Higher nature.

Using AREA can serve as a practical reminder to keep us aligned with the Four Noble Truths. The result is more inner peace, harmony and joy.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Chaotic Life? How to Find Inner Peace Amid Chaos

Chaotic Life? How to Find Inner Peace Amid Chaos

“Anyone can build a house of wood and bricks, but the Buddha taught that that is not our real home. Our real home is inner peace.” – Ajahn Chah

How can we possibly experience inner peace at a time when humanity and our planet appear to be tumbling deeper into chaos? Can inner peace even co-exist with chaos?

I believe the answer is Yes!

In fact, spiritual practices such as mindfulness and Buddhist teachings show us how to cultivate inner peace in any situation.

The only time we have is the present; tomorrow is not guaranteed. This present moment, therefore, is the perfect and only time where we can find inner peace. This inner peace, which is also known as equanimity in Buddhism, cannot be found in the outside world. And yet, the potential for inner peace exists in the mind and heart of every individual, so each one of us can learn how to create the inner conditions for experiencing lasting peace within.

One of the perennial wisdom teachings encourages us to view peace as the result of letting go: letting go of clingy attachment as well as letting go of its opposite, which is aversive resistance.

This process of letting go is simple, but not necessarily easy to practice. It requires self-discipline. And so, we tend to shop around for easier ways toward peace, running the risk of getting confused by external voices promising instant bliss and freedom from the human condition.

You see, random information without context leads to overwhelm and confusion. Instead, we need to discern what is truly useful for us at any given time. We also need to distinguish between the louder presence of random information and the gentle presence of inner equanimity, because that is how we liberate the mind. In the presence of equanimity, the mind is not hijacked by attachment or aversion.

Equanimity further grows when we recognize that all things are inherently neutral; it is simply our thinking that bestows meaning on things so we can then either attach to them or resist them. It is not the facts, but the stories about the facts, that hijack our minds into value judgments and positionality.

In Buddhist tradition, equanimity is seen as a central quality present in beings who have developed deep inner wisdom and alignment with truth, free from hostility and egoic will.

Equanimity relates to inner poise and balance because it rests in a place of non-attachment; centered between attraction and repulsion. It poises in a calm place of neither clinging to nor pushing away from things. Finding that neutral resting place within offers us a higher perspective over issues rather than getting stuck in the egoic interpretation of what’s happening. The more we develop equanimity, then, the more inner peace and spaciousness we experience in life.

Each one of us can develop more equanimity by practicing mindfulness in our lives on a daily basis and using an inner inquiry process to help us unpack emotions as they arise. Here are five steps to help with the process:

1. Set a clear intention to stay mindful

Setting a clear intention reminds us to step out of the ego identification of attachment and aversion; story-making and drama. It is the first step in cultivating true inner awareness.

2. Recognize the triggers

When a trigger arises, we may try to avoid feeling our emotions around it. Instead, we may distract ourselves with shopping or work, or we may attempt to numb our emotions with food or other substances. If we truly want to discharge the impact of the trigger, we absolutely need to become aware and look at it. Sometimes, the simple act of clearly seeing allows our reaction to the trigger to dissolve so we can replace it with equanimity.

3. Become curious

When we feel lost in reactions of anger and frustration to triggers, it is helpful to recognize that there is a desire hidden there, way beneath the frustration or anger. There may be attachment to a wishful outcome, or a craving for safety and security. It can be helpful to ask questions about where the attachment or aversion came from, what it is attempting to accomplish and what needs to be done with it to help us dissolve inner dissonance. We can also investigate the ways in which we distract ourselves to avoid feeling pain or avoid accepting reality.

4. Let go of attachment and aversion

By bringing compassionate awareness to these inner emotions and processes, we can separate out truth from our colored interpretation. Next, we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to let go:

  • Am I willing to let go of control?
  • Am I willing to let go of my attachment or aversion to what showed up in the past or in my present?
  • Am I willing to let go of the way I think things should be?
  • Am I willing to let go of resisting what is?
  • Can I simply let go and allow things to be as they are

5. Embrace peace

Letting go of attachments and aversions offers us the opportunity to return to our innate state of peace. As we let go of these things, we create space for equanimity.

Equanimity is the final result of this deep inquiry process that helps us dissolve inner dissonance, become aware of areas where we are distracting ourselves, and come back into proper alignment with truth and peace within, free from attachment and aversion.

After practicing this inner inquiry, simply bask in the stillness of awareness, allowing the radiant heart and mind spaces to open. Allow life to unfold in its fullness, expanding and contract with each heartbeat of life so you can know the peace of observing all without attachment, and in so doing, find inner peace.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Tending The Heart: How to Get From Fear to Empowerment

Tending The Heart: How to Get From Fear to Empowerment

Fear constricts and empowerment frees; and tending the heart allows us to find our way to that freedom.

Fear is a deeply rooted meme in society because every generation on earth has faced the need for survival. In earlier times, fear of abandonment was primary for most individuals, because abandonment by the tribe most often led to death.

Fear is also used extensively by egoic minds and unawakened beings to control, manipulate and force consensus, even when it is false.

Fear is an illusion

Fear is truly false, for it presents false evidence in order to coerce us into submission; it often parades the imminent danger of abandonment to make us cower from the possibility of what other humans might do to us.

Even this grandiose posturing of fear is false! In truth, the Creator cannot abandon creation, for the creation is the very expression of Divinity in physical form. To abandon creation, the Creator has to abandon Himself, and that is not possible. Both Creator and creation are one in consciousness; therefore all divisive concepts of fear and abandonment come from the unawakened ego self.

To make space for the realization of Divine support and protection in our lives, we need to evict the fear of what man can do to us.

We need to understand that fear is a man-made phenomenon that has no power over our eternal souls. Only then can we affirm that we are embraced by a loving Creator who does not and cannot abandon His creation.

Tending the heart

Once we have revealed fear for what it is: false evidence appearing real, there is a Zen Buddhist teaching that reminds us there are only two things in this world we need to do: sit and tend the garden.

Even though the world is full of suffering, it is also full of empowerment to overcome. When we stop and become quiet, we can see this.

And so, we need to tend our hearts so we can transition from fear to faith; from disempowerment to true empowerment.

Take the time to sit and calm your heart; feel beneath the fear to the woundedness there that begs for healing. It takes courage to step away from the crowd, to push away the busy schedule and to sit, tending your heart and your soul. Yet all masters knew how important that is: even Gandhi took one day a week to sit in silence, tending the garden of his heart so he could be the change he sought in the world.

Right action

When we’ve taken time to tend the heart, we can engage in meaningful action. How you do your work is as important as what you do. Never act out of guilt, because then you are propagating the very suffering of the world. If you truly wish to grow love and not anger, fear or guilt, then do what you do from love, and not from any other emotion.

When acting out of guilt, anger or fear, we act out of ego, no matter how noble the cause we engage in.

Expand your circle

We also need to stay connected to the whole of life, even as we figure out our individual parts of the journey. Don’t draw your circle of life too small. You are more than one person – you are one with life itself, expressing in this life through consciousness.

Reclaim your connection

It is in sitting and contemplation that we recognize the stillness of the Creator Presence and our connection to all. That awareness can foster in us spontaneous caring and compassion for the woundedness of the world, so we commit to the awakening and care of the world.

Many brave souls have gone before to show the way. I often find inspiration in the beautiful words of author Diane Ackerman’s School Prayer:

“In the name of daybreak

and the eyelids of morning

and the wayfaring moon

and the night when it departs,

 

I swear I will not dishonor

my soul with hatred,

but offer myself humbly

as a guardian of nature,

a healer of misery,

a messenger of wonder,

and an architect of peace.

 

In the name of the sun and its mirrors

and the day that embraces it

and the cloud veils drawn over it

and the uttermost night

and the male and the female

and the plants bursting with seed

and the crowning seasons

of the firefly and the apple,

 

I will honor all life

—wherever and in whatever form

it may dwell—on Earth my home,

and in the mansions of the stars.”

Centuries earlier, the Buddha taught: “To live in joy and love even among those who hate; to live in joy and health, even among the afflicted; to live in joy and peace, even among the troubled; quiet your mind and tend the heart, and free yourself from fears and confusion and attachment, and know the sweet joy of living in the Way.”

What is your gift to the world that only you can bring? Listen closely, push beyond fear to find it, and then commit to do it with love and joy!

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

The Search For A Perfect Life

The Search For A Perfect Life

Of the many things that cause us pain, our expectation that life should be perfect, is one of the primary causes. The idea that there exists a perfect Shangri-La somewhere that we can somehow locate, is a form of magical thinking that sets us up for false expectations and disappointment..

It creates dissatisfaction with the life we have and pulls us out of the present moment into an unending search for perfection out there somewhere. It also leads to frustration when our efforts fail to create the perfect outcomes we think we need, deserve or desire.

If we truly desire inner peace, we need to trade this magical thinking for a more accurate version of truth.  Zen teaches that to find peace of mind, we need to “think of life as a series of imperfect facts.”

I have used this helpful reminder in countless ways in my personal practice.

This phrase reminds us that our reactions and outrage often stem from an unconscious belief that life should be perfect – or that our individual lives and outcomes ought to be perfect for us to have peace.

Because this limiting belief operates beneath the surface, we may be unaware of it. If I were to ask  you, “Do you expect your life to be perfect?” you would almost certainly say no.

And yet, we get upset when our lives do not match our idealized dreams! This process is known as cognitive dissonance – the conflict between what we want and what actually shows up.

It is worth checking how often you become angry or frustrated when something relatively minor goes wrong, or when events don’t turn out the way you wanted.  You may even feel outraged when life refuses to follow your commands!

With some mindfulness, we can turn such moments into Zen moments: we can think of life as a series of imperfect facts. And know, too, that sometimes those apparent imperfections are really blessings in disguise.

In the same way that we can become outraged when life “goes wrong,” we can sometimes react very harshly when people let us down, or when our expectations are shattered by some very human behavior.

Our relationships do best when we can accept that people sometimes will behave badly, inconsistently or thoughtlessly. Sometimes they will let us down.

As long as this doesn’t happen all the time and does not put us in danger, it is healthier for everyone when we can see these behaviors as part of the big picture and get over the smaller disappointments.

When we focus on let-downs and disappointments, our relationships weaken and may even disintegrate. By choosing instead to see others as flawed as we are, yet generally doing their best, our relationships with all of life become easier, more relaxed and far more rewarding.

Mother Teresa reminded us of that when she said:
 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

When we can see the perfect unfolding of life as a series of imperfect facts, our acceptance of what is, brings freedom and joy.

About the author:
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

A Love Letter From Your Soul

A Love Letter From Your Soul

Dear one, there is something you need to know. This love letter comes to remind you of what really matters. And it is this: You are not a mistake. You are eternally, irrevocably loved.

Yes, you are dearly, utterly loved. You are deeply loved by good people in this world. Most of all, you are loved by the infinite Creator whose love is without beginning and without end.

You are worthy of being loved because of who you are. There is nobody else just like you, and every outrageous detail of your existence is a treasure that is yours to savor and to share.

You come from Love, you are love and therefore you can choose love.

On the days when you want to hide from the world and bury yourself in misery and self-pity, remember this: you are not broken. You may be discouraged, wounded, overwhelmed or afraid, but you are not broken.

Within you, your eternal soul burns bright as ever, and as you peel away the surrounding layers that you built for protection, that inner flame will light your path once more. It will burn through every obstacle on your way, for that is your purpose and your destiny in this life: to let your light shine!

You were not created to play small or to argue for your limitations. You were not born to be broken. Your life offers so much more!

Yes, you are not a mistake. You were given life by Divine decree, and you embarked on this journey with courage that left the angels in awe. You freely chose this wild, tumultuous journey to experience, and learn, and grow. You came here to embody the Presence of the Divine Source in a world shrouded in spiritual slumber.

And these things you can do at any time: you do not need a million dollars in the bank before you learn to lean into the stillness within; you do not have to attain any social status before learning to discern the voice of Spirit within; you do not need to strive for popularity to validate your soul’s worth. Your worth is intrinsic, eternal and unchangeable.

Perhaps you feel a bit dull and tarnished right now, like a diamond that had been dropped in mud. And yet, when the external dirt is washed away, your intrinsic beauty continues to radiate.

Your light is shining through all the layers that obscure it, so open your heart and hands. Let the light within you expand in ever bigger circles to hold this entire world in its embrace. Let your love reach out to embrace all the forms of life around you: two-leggeds and four-leggeds, feathered and scaled ones; all of nature. It is by embracing the beauty of what already is, that your love will call forth the highest good in yourself and others.

You are magnificent and powerful; a co-creator endowed with the privilege of being the Creator’s hands and feet and voice in this world. This is your purpose and your calling.

Life is fleeting and fragile and sometimes utterly awful. At times such as these, the light within you is needed more than ever.

Never let the shadows around you discourage you. Instead, let your light shine so brightly that it dispels the shadows and illumines your path.

You came into this life to realize the Presence of the Creator in you and anchor that in physicality. As you do that, the Creator Presence radiates into the world around you to heal, transform and renew. That power is in you right now, right here!

You alone must discover the full potential of what is possible in this life. You already have the power of becoming within you, for you have the power of choice.

And as you nestle into the Presence of Spirit’s peace at the end of each day, may you feel the pleasure of the Creator resting on you, and the loving embrace of your heavenly support team.

You are never alone. You are Divinely loved and supported, now and always.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.