How to Find Inner-Peace

I got out of bed at 3:30am to the smell of fire. I walked outside to my balcony and noticed the sky had a pinkish hue. Falling down was bits of debris. I felt ash on the wooden ledge, but could not see any evidence of a fire. I proceeded to the internet and saw that Napa/Sonoma county are currently experiencing forrest fires. My heart is with them.

This was an extremely unsettling week for me. I was not affected personally, but those close to me were – so I guess you could call it personal.

A friends brother committed suicide, another friend was close to Mandalay Bay during the Vegas shooting and nearly lost his life, a few friends/family members are going through rough patches in their life that I cannot comprehend even if I tried and another close friend opened up to me about his father committing suicide and growing up with a mother who was a drug addict. If that wasn’t enough, he was an innocent bystander at an event and was shot with inches spared that would have paralyzed him for life.

These are real problems that those that I love experienced, and although my problems are not the same, they’ve been important in fostering my spiritual growth.

Today I wanted to share some ways to find, cultivate and practice inner-peace. My reasons are all through direct experience. They are authentic and every bit a part of me as my heartbeat.

Meditate – First off, meditation is not a session that you do once in a while, it’s a state of mind. It’s NOT to recount past lives, reduce karma or touch some unknown cord that is beyond the empirical senses. That is nonsense. Meditation helps clear the noise in our head and make room for mental clarity. It is a practice to think about nothing. The reason it is simplistic and profound is because all the noise we have in our head is of the past and future – both of which are not here. Meditation helps us hone in on this moment. It is only through attentive and consistent practice that one can find inner-peace, even in the most dire of situations.

Tip – download headspace  – It’s a meditation app with a free trial period. I have not gone beyond the free trial because I’m at an intermediate level of meditation, mainly through my practice with Vipassana. Headspace is awesome for beginners. Please take advantage. 

Reminding the Self – When anxiety, worry or any feeling of unease presents itself, I literally tell myself, “there is nothing going on in the world except where I am right now.” I know I’m just stating the obvious, but it’s easy to forget that the noise in our heads are just clouds in our mental sky. Even if you want to think about the past and future, you can only do it now. Allow this moment to be your entire world. This is not new information, but just like water – we constantly need it to replenish our spirit. To live in the past and future robs us of energy, but being in the present facilities a path for more of it.

Listening to others – Many people confide in me. I listen. They tell me personal things. I listen. When they ask for advice, I ask them, “what do you think you should do?” I’ve come to a place in my life where my best vehicle to heal another is through listening. My problems can never be someone else’s, but by listening I am letting another vent and they are healing. The very act of doing this is service. You feel alive when you help others and subconsciously you are healing yourself. When Mother Teresa was asked, “how can I change the world.” She said, “go home and love your family.”  There is no shortage of people in our lives that can use our ear. Give them all your attention – unencumbered with the slightest notion of advice. All advice is predicated on our experience. It’s as if you’re trying to give directions to someone, but they have the map. Check out this article I wrote for elephant journal earlier this year for more context on this.

Listening to what is – When what you see becomes what you hear, then true freedom, healing, love, growth, etc.. take place. Think about this statement for a second because it’s rudimentary in nature, but unlocks huge potential for us. As you go about your day, be completely attentive in what you are doing. As I’m typing these words I am completely engaged and a sense of euphoria is over me that is hard to explain. This feeling is available to all of us. It takes practice because the chatter of the mind persists, but eventually it will subside – but you have to give a tremendous amount of effort and many don’t want to expel this type of energy. Many are content with the endless chatter in their minds. It’s a sad way to live when turning the light switch on is very easy. Practice active listening by being fully aware in the most mundane activities of your daily life. Enjoy the taste of your food and savor it. Try to drive home without the radio and completely focus on the act of driving. When you get home to your family put away on the phone and be engaged in any conversation.

You can’t help anyone – You can be a tool to guide others in their healing, but you cannot walk the path of another. This can be hard because we want those we love to be okay. Although we are experiencing life collectively, our journeys are alone. We can only be a lampost for those we love. Smile because you don’t own their problems, but also smile because you know you can help them without taking on their baggage.

Eat more veggies/fruits and drink more water – Inner-peace has a lot to do with diet. I practice a plant-based diet. Although I’m not perfect, eating this way about 98% of the time has its benefits. Our bodies pH hovers around 7.35-7.45. Waters pH is at 7. We must be as close to water as possible for the body to run efficiently. Since fruits and veggies are comprised largely of water, they help the body maintain a state of homeostasis. Eating this way makes the heart work less. Foods high in cholesterol thickens the blood and makes the heart work harder. Too much caffeine does this as well. Take care of your health today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. There will never be a perfect time to start. Just start. If you are interested in changing the way you eat, please see my blog veganswamy.com. I have new content coming soon.

Anicha – This word means impermanence in Pali – a language that’s dead now, but was spoken 5000 years ago. If you learn nothing else in this lifetime, please learn anicha. If more people understood that every feeling or sensation you feel will come and go, more would adopt better mental health. The knowing that all things are in constant flux helps you not attach to any one feeling for too long. The 4 seasons are a reminder of this. Even if we are attached to spring, the winter will force us to feel her cold. We might rejoice in the anticipation of summer but it will give way to autumn – but if you can love each season for what it is, then no matter what time of year – you will not be dispirited.

Breathe – Although we all breathe, when we are in our minds and thinking about events that are not in the present, our breathing patterns change. They become shorter, less oxygen comes into the body which means blood flow is restricted and the heart works harder. Closing your eyes and removing yourself from the world temporarily and taking deep breaths will help. Breathe deeply for about 1 minute right now if time permits with eyes closed. Count your breaths and focus on how the air comes in and out of your nasal passages. How do you feel?

I sincerely hope some of these tips help you. Our world is full of beauty and turmoil – and although everyone complains about the turmoil – if you can see it with a certain amount of beauty, this life that you’ve been gifted can become more enjoyable.

You are your thoughts, but also the entity looking at the thoughts. Your thoughts are the clouds, but the limitless sky – beyond the veil of blue into the infinite cosmos is you as well. We all have the capacity to understand this.

Written with Love,
Anand Swamy

The Joy of Work

It was another sunny day in December in California. A few months ago a good friend of mine who moved from Minnesota remarked how the great weather in the Golden State made it hard to live elsewhere in America. I’ve never known the difference..perhaps I need to spend some time in another state or country so I can appreciate how the sun shines yearly?

Today I was at Stanford University. It had been about a year since I’ve worked a traditional corporate job. Much of my time was spent in free-lectures offered by various universities, online classes, books, writing, cooking and going on long expedition like nature walks. Don’t you remember as a child how we use to explore the world and find a certain amount of fascination with the simplest things? Why does that leave us? Does it have to be this way? Aren’t we all still children? With that being said, I quite loved my wanderlust lifestyle. It made me feel like a kid. I intend to keep it up for as long as life allows me.

Today I was looking forward to hearing Sadhguru speak. He’s somewhat of a spiritual celebrity in the West. I’ve grown to enjoy his teachings, especially while cooking – it makes cutting the onions slightly more pleasant. I first read his book, “The Flowers on the Path,” after my cousin from Canada gave it to me – well I actually took it from him. Have you ever been so close to someone that everything they own automatically becomes yours? This is my relationship with him. Put his personality on Halle Berry’s body and I’ll put a ring on it with the quickness.

Anyways, I was on campus waiting for Sadhguru. I got there a little early to enjoy the new surroundings – something I do everywhere I go. As I got to the front of the building I saw him finishing up a conversation with a few folks. He looked at me with eyes that pierced my soul while removing everything from existence. He was dark skinned – with impeccable clear complexion and his patented turban and garb. He signaled me to come over as if he knew me and had something important to share.

I put both my hands together in Namaste fashion to greet him – but he opted for my hand and gave me a sturdy handshake while holding my forearm. I said, “nice to meet you” and told him I read his book. He looked at me with intensity and said, “That book is too easy for you, read something more complicated.” I thought it was funny and endearing how someone can insult me while giving a compliment.”

I share this story because during his talk he shared a valuable piece of advice that I feel will benefit you.

Our Work

It’s no surprise that our work will take much of our lifetime.

  • 8 hours of work
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 8 hours of friends/family

Total – 24 hours in a day

Give or take a few hours depending on how demanding your job is, about 1/3 of our life is devoted to work. If we live till 90 – that’s 30 years.

I’ve come to understand that life is not about finding the perfect job/career. We should still strive for the best if the ability and means presents itself, but it’s far more important to Work Joyously.

Almost all self-help books, advice from titans of industry and the majority of the verbiage around the west resonates with working hard, but few talk about working joyously.

Working hard can be stressful, but working with joy takes the stress out of it. It helps you enjoy life moment to moment.

This is not only helpful for spiritual well-being, but also psychological well being. If our life can be an expression of our joy then it doesn’t matter what we do and where we do it.

5 Ways to bring Joy into your life Today

  1. The chance of your existence – The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 10 to the 2,685,000th power  — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes! To give you context, there is said to be 10 to the 80th power of atoms in the known universe. In hindsight the probability of us being here at all is 0. We don’t know why creation took place, for what purpose and we know eventually this ride will end so lamenting on anything for too long is trivial. If we can understand the sheer joy of being alive – then we can bring that joy to work.
  2. Life is Leela – “Leela” is the sanskrit word for “play”. When you think about the world objectively, without emotion and for what it is you come to some interesting conclusions. Everything humanity has created will one day perish. When our sun runs out of energy in the next 4 billions years this planet will be null and void and unless Elon Musk finds a way to propel us to a different planet – we won’t be worthy of even a memory. It’s as if our time here is a night club. We all know that the music will end sooner or later so instead of agonizing over when it does, just dance. At times we tend to fall into our problems as if they are forever. Everything will pass, but while you’re in situations that seem insurmountable to come out from – invite Joy into your life by understanding impermanence.
  3. Gratitude – It’s a practice. The practice of gratitude makes the mind stronger. Everyday I wake up with the same prayer.“Thank you for another day. I don’t know why I’m here or where I’ll go, but I’m thankful for the air in my lungs, the friends and family around me and the ability to experience this day once more.” Gratitude is infectious because through my smiles and acts of kindness I am able to see the same in people, In essence my gratitude for life gives others permission to unlock the joy that they have inside.
  4. You will die and that is lovely – If you’ve been reading my blog or you know me personally then you know how candidly I talk about death. Knowing that my time is limited has opened the floodgates to love. My heart hurts with every new person I meet because I know we will all share the same fate of leaving this place, and while it hurts I choose to be kind, smile and show love. Your worst enemy can become your brother and sister instantly.
  5. Service to others – You don’t have to be part of an organization or join a soup kitchen to show service to others. Service is given from the moment you wake up. The way you interact with people, the thoughts you have about them and inevitably how you treat others is service. Everyone in our life will perish, and by giving them the best in us we both find ourselves in unity for one kind act begets another – even if briefly.

—————-
Our time here is short. Let this be a beckoning call to yourself during moments of strife.

I sincerely hope that whatever you do, you do with Joy. Practice gratitude, know that your life was a stroke of luck, contemplate death and let service to others be the epitome of character.

Written with Love,

Anand Swamy
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What is Meditation

As I sit at my local coffee shop writing these words to you I feel joy.

I do not know where this joy comes from nor do I care.

It’s in moments like this that I take a step back, breathe deeply and relish in my current environment — because no matter where the mind decides to travel, I can only be here. Continue reading “What is Meditation”

Unlearning to the Path of Joy

  • We may travel to far places
  • We may acquire opulence through the material
  • We may have many lovers, friendships and a great social life
  • We may find love in another being to pass our time with
  • We may have beautiful children that we care for deeply
  • We may carry deep and strong belief structures about creation, the government and mankind
  • We may have dreams, aspirations and passions

Continue reading “Unlearning to the Path of Joy”

The Final Prescription

A depressed man named Hugo walks into the Doctor’s Office. He opens up to the wise physician and describes in detail all his problems.

The Doctor listens attentively for about an hour and starts to clearly understand his issues. The depressed man becomes happy as the Doctor communicates his diagnosis.

“Hugo, I understand why you are so depressed. Everything in your life is chaotic.”

“Finally someone understands me. I knew I wasn’t crazy!” Continue reading “The Final Prescription”

9 Ways Being Spiritual can Improve our Dating Lives – Published Article with Elephant Journal

So this is my second article that has been published by Elephant Journal. For this article I decided to dive in a little bit into my personal life. Writing is a form of expression where I can share how difficult times in my life have taught me the biggest lessons. My thoughts on love has changed since becoming more awake to the world of spirituality. Whether you are married or single you can relate to this post. Check out my newest article 9 Ways Being Spiritual can Improve our Dating Lives.

Written with Love by Anand Swamy

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