by Nick Andrea
In my last post, All of Life is About This One Thing, I discussed the point of life – to attain this One Mind, in other words, a pervasive and enduring inner peace. I also briefly mentioned that it is found only here and now and through surrender.
I’d like to briefly explain surrender and then talk about methods for making that happen.
First, the truth is that control is what obstructs us from peace. Why? Because God is a river that flows through you, and if you are controlling you are constructing that flow. Surrendering is giving up that control and opening yourself up. This allows you to move beyond ego which is where peace is found. Anytime you move beyond the ego you will discover peace. It’s actually quite simple (though not necessarily easy).
So, what are some effective methods for facilitating this? I once heard a Zen master say, “You can use anything to create peace. Even chanting Coca-cola over and over again will work if you believe in it.” While I haven’t tried the holy Coca-cola mantra yet, I have experienced a cadre of creative ways to experience what we’re after. All of them involve surrendering control and all of them bring you right into the present moment.
First, meditation. I use this a lot. There are a thousand and one different methods to meditate but what I want to say here is that meditation should be a creative process of moving deeper into who you are, your truth in this moment. Two meditations should never be the same, as two moments are never the same. And yet, the process and the goal are the same – surrender, peace. Meditation is more a process of “casting away” than “building up.” It should never become a rote practice because that’s just another form of ego – control, “have-to.” No, meditation should feel natural and holy, like you’re being beckoned within by the river that flows there.
Next, tai chi, qigong, and hatha yoga. These are very good for helping you get into your body. The first two in particular I like for spiritual reasons because they give your whole body a sense of moving together. That is a truly magical experience. Its underlying value is that it literally gives the different physical parts of yourself a chance to move as one.
Third is playing with animals and/or children. The act of expressing love through play has always made me a more spiritual person. Pure, unconditional giving is a quick way to bring peace to your mind.
The last method I want to talk about is drumming. I’ve done this a lot in my life and was surprised to realize one day in class just how powerful this tool is for calming the mind. I had come into class in a really bad mood but I left happy as a pig in shit. How? Because you can’t play advanced rhythms in a group and hold onto control.
My teacher used to say, “You have to leave your ego at the door or you won’t be able to play this music.” It wasn’t a moral statement but a functional one. To play your part you had to let go of your “self” and listen to what the whole was doing.Then you could find your part within IT. Then, you could play it. Playing that music was a very palpable experience of moving beyond ego, and that in turn is why it created so much peace for me.
I used to teach drumming at a residential facility for incarcerated teenage boys. It was a very successful program. I got smiles from guys who hadn’t smiled in years. However, I conducted it somewhat by the seat of my pants and in an unfocused way. Very creative, but scattered. I’m thinking I should go back and do that again, though with a more focused, polyrhythmic emphasis. Get these guys moving beyond ego in no time.
I hope this post has given you some inspiration and ideas. We’re all purveyors of peace. Are you doing YOUR job? 😉