solitaryPEACE OR PAIN is a choice in every moment.

Does that statement make you angry? “How dare you blame me for things in my life I have no control over.” That was my reaction to that statement when I first heard it.

Over time, however, I began to see it differently. I don’t always like it, but it is true. One of the ways to be sure we have left the present moment is the experience of pain. When I speak of pain here, I am really talking about suffering. Suffering is caused by wanting a different experience than the one at hand. Perhaps you have taken a position about something or feel the need to be right. You may feel that if only this person or that situation would just change, then I would have peace.

The amount of peace and joy I experience in any given day is directly proportional to the time I spend living in the present moment. It’s the simplest thing I’ve ever done — yet, it did not seem that way at the beginning. When I first began, a regular, closed-eye meditation practice did not feel easy. I experienced thousands of thoughts about how it couldn’t be that easy, that it wouldn’t work for me. Actually, I still have many of those same thoughts, but my relationship with them has changed — I no longer believe I am the content of my thoughts. It is a good thing, too, because it has really lessened the number of perceived problems in my life.

Have you ever had a problem in the present moment? No! All problems are created from thoughts about the past or the future. If you really look at the content of the thousands of thoughts we have each day, we never have a present-moment thought. What a different world we would have if we all lived fully immersed in the present! Living from the silent, peaceful place inside and taking action from that place offers a different perspective: we come to a task from an attitude of service versus an attitude that something is broken and needs to be fixed. This is an attitude of perfect peace rather than an attitude of painful problems.

When we are fully present, it becomes ridiculously obvious — the peace never goes anywhere. It may not seem like a choice while we are off thinking, but as we re-establish life in the present moment, we see that the only thing that really changes is where we put our attention. The more we keep our attention in the present moment, the brighter our lives look — no matter what the relative experience.

I have been in both physical and emotional pain and noticed that the suffering was optional. Peace is contingent upon nothing. A regular meditation practice is key to living in the present moment, to choosing peace over pain. And since living in eternal peace is our birthright, how could it possibly be hard?

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