"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that
one’s work is terribly important…." – Bertrand Russell
"The more you advance toward God, the less He will give you worldly duties
to perform…." – Ramakrishna
The key to balancing your desire to be at peace with your need to achieve, perform and earn a living is in recognizing that there’s no such thing as stress; there are only people thinking stressful thoughts. It’s really as simple as that. When you change the way you process the world, the world you’re processing changes.
Stress is an inside job. You can’t fill a container with it, because tension isn’t a physical item or object. There isn’t some thing that you can point to and say, "There it is, that’s stress!" It simply doesn’t exist in that form. Yet 112 million people in America take medication for stress-related symptoms, which include fatigue, heart palpitations, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, nervousness, excessive eating, rashes, nail biting, loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, irritability,
panic, moodiness, memory lapses, the inability to concentrate, ulcers, obsessive-compulsive
behavior, feeling upset…and on and on goes an almost inexhaustible list. And they’re all caused by something that doesn’t exist in the physical world.
Being out of balance means that you often feel exasperated because you never really enjoy the life you work so hard to achieve. You may frequently feel as if you’re spending your life running on an endless treadmill. All of the pressure of working and striving may have many worldly rewards, yet at the same time there’s a feeling of going absolutely nowhere.
If this sounds familiar, it’s a signal to begin reconsidering ways of processing thoughts about your life and work, and start pursuing freedom from the symptoms of stress by becoming more balanced. Getting into balance isn’t necessarily about changing your behavior. Certainly you can pursue stress-reducing activities such as meditation, exercise, walks along a beach or whatever works for you. But if you continue to align yourself with achieving more, defeating the other guy, winning at all costs, and going faster because you believe that’s how to keep up, then you’re guaranteed to attract the vibrational equivalent of this thinking into your life – even if you do yoga and stand on your head chanting mantras every day!
You become what you think about all day long. You also become how you think all day long. To measure the weight of your thoughts, you need to think in terms of vibration and energy. Let’s suppose that you have a high-frequency desire to be a person who has no symptoms of stress. Let’s assign this thought a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, with the lowest-energy thought of 1 representing a nervous breakdown, and a 10 representing enlightened, peaceful mastery.
Next, you need to note the thoughts you have that support your desire for a peaceful, stress-free life. Thoughts such as "I’m overwhelmed," "I never have enough time," "I have so many people wanting things from me that I don’t even have time to think," "I have so much more on my plate than I can handle, and I feel pressured by my need to make money to pay my bills" aren’t balanced and peaceful. These thoughts are resistant energy, which counters the desire for a peaceful, stress-free existence. In other words, they’re non-aligned and out of balance. Your desire may be a 10, but your mental energy in this situation is in a much lower range, perhaps a 2 or 3.
Simply changing your behavior isn’t going to get you back into balance. You’re still attracting symptoms of stress when you say no to people and their demands, but vibrate to a frequency that’s thinking, "I really should be doing what they ask of me," or "Maybe I can squeeze in their requests later." You may have pulled back from an overly full and frenzied schedule, yet you continue to radiate thoughts of fear and scarcity that will activate the Law of Attraction to bring you fear and scarcity.
If stress thoughts are tipping the scale, that’s what the Law of Attraction brings. Remember: You become what you think about! If you’re thinking scarcity or anger or fear, guess what? That’s what the Law of Attraction attracts! Even with a well-balanced schedule that allows for more free time, and even with plenty of stress-reducing activities on your pared-down personal calendar, if you fail to align your thoughts with the success you’re capable of attracting, the weight of the dominant thoughts will tip the scale away from a balanced life. How you live your daily life will remain
out of balance, and you’ll have failed to assimilate the essence of Gandhi’s advice that "there is more to life than increasing its speed."
What you most need to learn is how to create a match between what it is that you desire in your life, and what thoughts, or vibrational energy, you’re choosing to attract those desires.
The art of becoming
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from my teacher in India, Nisargadatta Maharaj:
"There is nothing to do. Just be. Do nothing. Be. No climbing mountains and sitting in caves. I do not even say be yourself, since you do not know yourself. Just be."
This idea may contradict everything you’ve been taught and how you’ve lived so far, but let it sink in anyway. If your lifetime inventory of ideas and rules has contributed to your being one of those 112 million who use medication to handle non-existent stress, you can certainly afford to entertain this thought. As you begin practicing the principles to realign with a vibration that matches your desire for a tranquil, peaceful life, you’ll become more conscious of your thoughts. These thoughts of yours
literally determine who you are. And the fact that you’re reading these words suggests that you’re interested in becoming more conscious of your thoughts.
Being and becoming are used synonymously here. To restore a sense of balance between your desire for tranquility and your desire to meet the requirements of your life, you must practice becoming, and being the vibration that you desire.
Peace isn’t something that you ultimately receive when you slow down the pace of your life. Peace is what you’re capable of being and bringing to every encounter and event in the waking moments of your life. Most of us are waging a non-stop internal mental skirmish with everyone we encounter. Being peaceful is an inner attitude that you can enjoy when you’ve learned to silence your incessant inner dialogue. Being peaceful isn’t dependent on what your surroundings look like. It seldom has anything to do with what the people around you think, say or do. A noiseless environment isn’t
St. Francis’s famous prayer states it better than I can: "Make me an instrument of thy peace. " In other words, St. Francis wasn’t asking God to provide him with peace. He was asking for guidance to be more like the peace he trusted was his Source. Being peace is different from looking for peace.
This principle isn’t about merely choosing tranquil thoughts when you’re feeling frayed and anxious. I suggest picturing a container deep within yourself out of which all your thoughts flow. Inside of this container, at its very center, imagine a candle flame. You need to make a commitment that this flame in the center of the container holding all of your thoughts will never, ever even flicker, although the very worst may go before you. This is your container of peace, and only peaceful thoughts can fuel the burning candle. You don’t need to change your thoughts as much as you need
to learn to be an energy of peace lighting the way and attracting serene, harmonious thoughts and beings. In this way, you’ll become a being of peace.
Obviously, you take this inner receptacle with you wherever you go. When people attempt to put some kind of pressure on you, when you feel overwhelmed, or when situations arise that previously incited your distress or bellicosity, you can immediately turn to your inner candle flame of peace and see how to keep your light glowing. This is being the peace that you wish for yourself. This is offering a matching vibration to your desire to be a tranquil and amicable being, rather than a person suffering from the disease of trying to make life go faster. You’ve already seen the results
of that folly, and you notice the symptoms of stress in virtually everyone you meet.
As a being of peace, you make a huge impact on those around you. It’s almost impossible to be totally stressed out in the presence of someone who has opted to be peace. Peace is a higher and faster energy – when you’re being peace, just your presence alone will often nullify the uneasiness and tension in those around you. In fact, this state causes pheromones of measurable energy to emanate from you. They affect others, who become more peaceful without even being aware of the transformation taking place. The secret of this principle for restoring balance to your life is: Be the
peace and harmony you desire. You cannot get it from anything or anyone else.
So you’re not ready to take Nisargadatta’s profound advice and just be? Then work at becoming that being with the inner light of a steady candle flame. Here are some exercises to initiate becoming and being peaceful:
Practice giving peace away wherever you go by imagining that only thoughts of peace are in the container within you. Offer these energies wherever possible. Become a peacemaker with your fellow workers, your family members, and especially those with whom you’re in a love relationship. Leave your ego outside, where it can’t extinguish your candle flame. Then offer someone with whom you usually argue and make wrong a new thought from the light: "You’re making a good point; I’ll think about that." Or, "Thanks for giving your opinion; I value what you have to say."
These statements may at first shock the recipient, but you know that you’re practicing becoming a being of peace by giving away what you want.
Use the words of St. Francis to ask to become peace: "Make me an instrument of thy peace." The act of asking, even if you don’t feel an answer right away, will alter the balance toward becoming the peace that you desire. Once you’ve asked, you’ll find that it is given more readily than you may have suspected. This is a process of suspending your ego and allowing the higher, more spiritually based energies to weigh in toward your becoming more balanced.
Take your time. I urge you to reproduce Ramakrishna’s and Bertrand Russell’s quotes that are at the beginning of this chapter. Post them where you constantly notice them and let them become a part of your being. Your work isn’t terribly important…your worldly duties aren’t terribly important….Make your first and primary priority in your life being in balance with the Source of Creation. Become thoughtful in your slowed-down time, and invite the Divine to be known in your life. Being the peace you desire means becoming a relaxed person whose balance point doesn’t attract anxiety and stress symptoms.
Make deliberate, conscious efforts to slow yourself down by relaxing your mind. Take a little more time to enjoy your life here on this planet: Be more contemplative by noticing the stars, the clouds, the rivers, the animals, the rainstorms and all of the natural world. And then extend the same slowed-down loving energy to all people.
Begin with your family. Take a few extra hours to romp with your children, to listen to their ideas, to read them a story. Go for a walk with your most cherished loved one and say how much you treasure him or her in your life.
Extend this slowed-down perspective outward at work, in your community, and even to strangers. Make a deliberate effort to give someone your place in line rather than hurrying to be first. Become conscious of your efforts to become the peace you desire and to live in balance, even while you’re driving. As you slow your thoughts down and decide to enjoy your life more, bring your car to a stop at a yellow caution light rather than speeding on through. Consciously drive at a relaxed pace rather
than in a frenzy to get somewhere two minutes sooner. Let other people into the stream of traffic by being courteous rather than right.
Be in balance
These are all ways to begin the process of realignment. Become conscious of your desire to be at peace, and then match your present-moment thoughts to that desire. You’ll become more compassionate without trying to be, simply because you’ve aligned your inner world with your desire to be in balance. You’ll find that your body will feel more in balance as you pursue this glorious quest, as it will experience fewer symptoms of stress. Your body weight will adjust to the optimal level as you return to a state of perfect equilibrium. Your skin will reflect the balance and peace that
you’re becoming. Your digestion will return to normal without the aid of pills. Your sleep patterns will adjust. Your bowels will function perfectly, as they were designed to. In short, you will be in perfect balance.
You will not only be in balance, but irony of ironies, you’ll become more productive! You’ll have more abundance flowing in your life while being peaceful for the first time since you were a child. Take the advice of my teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Give it a try, and I promise that you’ll be peacefully surprised.