How Do I Achieve Peace of Mind?: Move Beyond the Mind to Find Real Peace
People around the world are seeking peace of mind. The field of psychology in which I trained is all about helping people arrive at and achieve peace of mind.
What I realized very early on in my experience of working with other psychologists is that they don’t arrive at peace of mind. They sometimes experience peaceful moments and psychology is good at getting rid of disturbing thoughts, but experiencing peace that passes all understanding is something that psychology isn’t very good at.
Psychology taught me things, but it didn’t teach me how to have peace beyond the mind. That’s where it – and so many things around the world – end up failing. They seek peace in that which is naturally disturbed – the mind.
What happens is that shortly after we’re born, around the age of two or three, we start having pleasurable and unpleasurable experiences. The mind remembers these and then tries to hold onto the pleasurable ones while preventing the bad ones. The problem exists in duality. If there is always to be good, there also has to be bad. To be able to smell a rose you have to know what manure smells like. You have to have two if you want to emphasize one. You can’t just have emphasis on one unless you describe it or put it in comparison to its opposite.
The mind comes along and says “Hey, I’m going to find you peace, bliss and happiness. Just let me be in charge and I’ll find it for you in this dualistic world.” This is impossible because where there is pleasure, pain is going to follow shortly. The most extreme form of this is drug addiction. Drug addicts will sell their souls in order to get their drug. In the process of trying to get that incredible high, their lives are putrid beyond belief. They might end up in prison, they might steal or get involved in prostitution, or hurt people. In the process of seeking that super high they receive super lows. It’s the same with manic depression or bipolar. Once the bipolar person likes that manic experience, they chase after it, but what follows is the low.
Psychology, philosophy and religions have come along and said, “Hey, we’ll give you a formula that will work. It will get you to have lots of highs and very little lows.” Or they say, “At least, some day you’ll have just highs when you die,” such as in the case of some religions. But what they don’t do is give you peace. They might be able to give you temporary cessation of disturbance but mind, in and of itself, is disturbance. It’s impossible to have peace of mind because the mind is dualistic; it is based on good and bad, happiness and pain. Since it’s seeking pleasure and shunning pain, it suffers. Its natural state is one of disturbance, because once there is a cessation of disturbance, disturbance is going to come because that’s a state of mind. It’s in a constant state of flux.
Even if peace of mind is reached, sooner or later pain is going to come along and disturb that peace of mind. We all know this. It doesn’t work to find peace of mind in the mind because the mind can’t find peace. So is it hopeless? Is there nothing we can do but suffer while we’re here?
No, of course not. But to find peace, we have to seek it so deeply and earnestly that we’re willing to give up all our thoughts that are misconceived. All of them. We don’t hang onto them just because we’re told they’re true or because we feel they’re true. We only hang onto that which is permanently everlasting true, right here and right now.
But what is that? That which changes can’t be the ultimate truth. What is it that doesn’t change? What is consistent? What always is, from the day we’re born ‘til now and ‘til the day we die? There is only one thing and that’s our awareness or beingness.
Pure beingness in the present moment without concepts or thoughts is about stepping back beyond our thoughts and abiding in pure witnessing. What happens when we do this is that boundaries get lost. We can’t distinguish between ourselves and everything else, so we and the entire universe become one. We become a witness. There isn’t any more “I” and “thou.” We aren’t a person; rather, we’re everything that is because we’re aware of it. Because we’re aware of it, it is. That’s the only thing that we can be aware of.
Pure beingness, pure witnessing, right here and right now. There is no past, no future, only the present moment. That’s it. When we abide in that awareness, what happens is that there is peace. There is deep peace because we’re not trying to hang onto certain things or push other things away. We just witness what’s happening. Of course there will be a response to pain and pleasure, but there won’t be a grasping. Vast, elaborate stories won’t be created and we won’t constantly be pursuing or regularly fearing that which may or may not come true. We just flow with life and we find that our natural state is one of peace.
But it’s not peace of mind – it is peace of pure beingness because we don’t grasp and try to hold onto things. We don’t fear things. We just witness life unfolding and it’s beautiful. There are no concepts; it’s more like a childlike awareness of newness. It is newness every day because we step beyond the mind. We find that our natural, true self is one of peace. It is a peace that truly surpasses all understanding. Let us be that; let us abide in our true self, that is our eternal or supreme self. Let us be who we are, who we’ve always been and who we will always be.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and meditation expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous books, including Spiritual Enlightenment: Awakening to the Supreme Reality and creates a weekly podcasts and articles on enlightenment, spiritual enlightenment, nonduality, Advaita Vedanta at: http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com