Stress Ends where Peace Begins

It was a perfect morning for a walk along the river. Nothing but blue sky, crystal clear water and sunshine. An ideal setting for reflection…… So I pondered about how almost everybody believes that the world causes them stress. And how they’re convinced that calm conditions creates peace of mind.

I mean it seems logical. Calm circumstances, calm mind. Stressful situation, stressed-out mind. But how can something outside affect what’s happening inside? Yet we see it all the time. The moment something goes wrong we get stressed. Conversely, when everything is right outside, we feel calm inside.

Peace is Internal

Not knowing that peace is internal, many of us rely on peaceful situations to gain peace of mind. That’s why we enjoy going for walks in nature, watching a sunset, or listening to quiet, soothing music. That’s why a sea-change or a tree-change is so appealing. We like to get away from it all. And when we can’t get away, some of us depend on mood-adjusting liquid at the end of the day to ease a heavily burdened mind.

But if peace was in the world, then everybody would be peaceful—and that is simply not the case. Take this morning’s walk along the river for example. The setting was perfect. Blissful. It was ideal for the fulfilment of a desire.

The desire was to walk along the river. Fulfilling that desire is what created the peace. Not the environment. Another person with a different set of desires would not have found peace. He would have been agitated because his desires were not being fulfilled. Therefore peace is internal. Not external.

Stress is Not External

Similarly, if stress was in a stressful situation then everyone would feel stressed. But that’s not the case. For example, your neighbour is playing loud music on a Sunday afternoon—and you’re blaming the noise for your stress. But the noise is not the cause. The cause of your stress is that your desire is not being fulfilled. You desire a quiet afternoon, lazing in the hammock. Another person is perfectly content in the same situation. He’s cool about the music. He’s just happy to be home on a Sunday afternoon.

Therefore we cannot blame the situation or circumstances for our stress. Nor can we claim the peaceful environment to be the cause of our peace. The cause of peace and stress is internal. Not external, as we believe.

You are in Control

You hold the reins of your life. Not the world. To be affected by an ever-changing world is to submit yourself to an endless roller-coaster ride. You enjoy the highs, but then you come crashing down. You pick up the pieces and slowly build yourself up again to enjoy another high. Only to come crashing down again. This is not life. It’s madness!

To be constantly buffeted by the ups and downs of life, is not living up too the dignity and prestige of a human being. If we are to survive in this world, we have to learn the techniques of how to manage ourselves. Fortunately those techniques are available in the ancient wisdom of Vedanta.

According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment. The first is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, which accelerate you to a point where you experience the miraculous. —Deepak Chopra

If you live in Perth and want to learn more, there are two events coming up that will help. One is a Stress Management Workshop. The other is a Clear Thinking Course. If you can’t make it to the workshop, then the first week of the course deals with stress and how to reduce it, because we need to reduce stress in order to be able to think clearly.

Image Credit: sarahstewart

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About the Author

Meredith Forder

Meredith Forder is a philosopher who has spent many years researching the ancient wisdom of Vedanta and how it benefits modern life and living. Through her teachings Meredith offers the essence of Eastern philosophy to our Western society—bringing a balance between outer success and inner peace of mind.

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