Attain Peace of Mind

“There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order.” – Marcus Aurelius

It’s difficult to get things done when you’re working in a disordered environment. You reach for a screwdriver to fix something but it’s no longer in your toolkit, so you waste about 20 minutes looking for it. Your boss is yapping at you to complete a project. Once it is done you discover that it wasn’t due until the following week and if you had read the daily memo you would have discovered that there was another order that you were supposed to be working on. Meanwhile your other bosses are making demands on your time, none of whom are working in cohesion. Your co-workers are doing their own thing as well, largely because they are trying to out-due one another so that they might win the end of the week bonus for getting the most work done. The new secretary, who doesn’t have any relevant expertise and work experience, has misplaced your financial details, so someone else is receiving your paychecks, and somehow it’s your problem to solve.

This dysfunctional work environment may serve as a good analogy to what it means to have a disordered mind. With a disordered mind our thoughts are all over the place, stirring up the mud and making it difficult to see. We lose our bearing and sense of what is right. Everything appears out of proportion. Problems are magnified and we end up wasting time on insignificant matters. A chicken without its head so to speak, making tracks all around the chopping block but not actually going anywhere or doing anything of significance.

So now that we have glimpsed the nature of a disordered mind, how about we take a look at what it means to have a mind put in good order; otherwise, peace of mind. We may agree it consists of clarity, a sound estimation of things, and a guilt free conscience. Of such terms the third may require additional explanation so that we might better grasp the whole. Simply put the conscience can be likened to our personal authority or ability to judge things aright according to that which is within our control. One’s conscience is gradually developed within a social context in view to the roles the individual participates in. So a person with a good conscience would be one who performs their duties to the best of their ability while respecting the rights and freedoms of others.

Coming to terms with what it means to have peace of mind may be a challenging endeavour. There are several contradictory definitions and ideas that may make us feel indifferent. For some, peace is no more than a feeling or the absence of thought. There are others who feel it’s strictly religious and can only be received through contemplative exercises. Such differences of opinion need not prevent us from learning about something of great value. In truth, by comparing and contrasting the various notions of peace, we not only add to our knowledge base, we also ascertain insights that can help us to see the practical advantages of a well ordered mind, as well as discover new ways of achieving it.

What does peace of mind mean to you? Would you like to share your personal experience as to how you remain calm & composed while under pressure? Why do you feel the need to maintain equanimity and can you foresee the long term ramifications of failing to put your house in good order? Can you recall some specific events when your ability to be unperturbed enabled you to choose an appropriate course of action in spite of the extreme difficulty you were under? Where do you need to be in order to learn additional skills that are conducive to maintaining serenity? Give these questions some thought and share them in the comment section below.

About Philosopher Muse

An explorer of volition and soul, a song under a night sky and a dream that forever yearns to be.
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9 Responses to Attain Peace of Mind

  1. Shawn says:

    I enjoyed the Marcus Aurelius quote you used. I think it’s ironic that it’s from his book “Meditations,” as this is one of the ways that people often assume to find peace. And such a way CAN be used, although even a seasoned Zen Buddhist will have difficulty doing so without some semblance of order in his or her immediate environment.

    For those who meditate, have you ever tried doing so with two noisy, excited children in the background? Or while the neighbour is doing foundation repair and jackhammers can be prominently heard, even within your household? To find peace can be extremely difficult, especially in a state of disorder.

    When it comes to a work environment, disorder and lack of peace can have deeper effects than simply bringing chaos to what should otherwise be disorder. If such lack of order comes from incompetent management, it can still damage one’s own career and job security. Very few things in the modern world threaten someone’s peace quite like having one’s career jeopardized.

    For many people, peace of mind only comes from the comfort of familiar routine. Many if not most people have difficulties functioning in a constantly changing environment and the only way to alleviate the stress is either to remove themselves from the scenario or to quit. But I think that peace of mind can be genuinely attained if one were to follow the simple steps that are ironically outlined in “The Serenity Prayer.” You need to be at peace with the things you won’t be able to change while still having the courage to change the things that you can. But most importantly, you’ll only find peace once you have the wisdom to recognize the difference.

    Great post, Jason. Keep these coming!

    • You tied your thoughts together with the undyed fabric of a black belt, while keeping the purity of your robe starched with the fiery presses of an iron.

      • Shawn says:

        Jason, as discussed, here are my further thoughts on what I’ve written above…

        As with all things in life, it’s important to have balance. This isn’t always easy in modern times, with so much more distractions and ambient noise than there would have been even just a hundred years ago. Roman General Vegetius once said, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Although this saying has always been open to interpretation, and it certainly doesn’t mean that war or confrontation should EVER be anything but a last resort, one should always be ready to face the negative aspects that may be faced.

        This directly relates to obtaining peace of mind and/or inner peace. There are a lot of obstacles and distractions that will prevent a person from properly obtaining peace of mind, but it can still be achieved if one prepares for said obstacles. This is where the Serenity Prayer came into my mind. There are things in life we simply can’t change. Children’ energy and rambunctious noisiness can rarely be changed. One needs to simply accept that. But for the things you CAN change, you need to have the courage and fortitude to step forward and take the necessary steps. For example, at time of writing this, my oldest is fine to school and the baby is napping for a couple of hours, leaving me with an open window for peaceful contemplation and meditation. There’s always a way, one simply needs to be brave enough to pursue it. And last but not least, one needs to be wise enough to understand whether it’s something one can change or not. It’s really all about balance.

  2. Anna says:

    I guess a house in good order could prevent suffering but putting a house in order can also cause suffering. For example, those who work hard, suffer to have. Those who don’t work, suffer want. Those who work toward peace of mind, suffer doubt and painful awareness. Those who accept disheveled minds, suffer lack of hope. The serenity prayer has always perplexed me. How do we know what we cannot change unless we try first? How much should we try before we accept that our efforts are futile. Ive noticed something. People giving advice for me to live a stable predictable life while they live the complete opposite. Guilt free, not sure how this looks or feels. Fear of guilt may keep some from ever acting on instinct, base desires to explore if there’s more. The world operates at such bizarre frequency, our words and desires are given to the big tech mulcher. Peace of Mind is right at the center of disruption, setting ourselves free to sink or swim–without God’s imagined permission.

    • Thank you, Anna, for putting together a thought provoking response. At first it felt like you were trying to stab me, but during a second read your truth pierced my heart a little deeper. Our struggles and challenges in life can certainly twist us into some very awkward positions. Knowing how to deal with uncertainty may not always be clear, and sometimes the best we can do is nothing at all. Thankfully everything keeps changing, and with a little patience we can explore alternative approaches while keeping our options open. Speaking of which, Uranus and Mars are in conjunction. Uranus has a rebellious energy to it, and with Mars being overly aggressive by nature, the two forces can be experienced as a strong proclivity to overreact or want to hurt others. You may not be susceptible or even willing to give thought to celestial relationships, but if you do, this might be a time to be a little more gentle in your interactions with others.

      • Anna says:

        None of my thoughts were directed toward you in the sense of disagreement…was only explaining paradoxes I deal with personally to reflect on questions you posed…Which part seemed not gentle? Or did you just mean in general…to be more gentle in my interactions? I enjoy your posts.

      • It’s all good Anna. Whatever combustible material you can bring to the fire can be used for illumination, as it warms me to know that my posts are enjoyable to you. Love & light…

  3. I recently read another article about cluttered workspaces which can lead to cluttered minds. In one sense, if we hope to clear our minds, we might start with an empty room. As someone who attempts Stoicism, I have tried meditation, but as an earlier commenter noted, it’s difficult with kids and other sources of noise around. You asked about how we cope with it. One of my better solutions is a set of mantras, about which I am writing a book. The mantras deal with our interactions with others, but can also help in other times as well. They are heavily laden with Stoic undertones, but have a universal quality about them. They are 1. Anger is Weakness. 2. Calm is Contagious. 3. Confidence is Convincing. 4. Cooperation is Crucial. 5. Communication is Critical. 6. Empathy is Imperative. When I need them, they are there to remind me that I am human, and so is the other party involved.

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