The depth of this is just starting to hit me.
My teacher told me this when I first started working with her. I was suicidal, considering what it might be like if I really decided to end my life.
I participated in a traditional overnight sweat lodge ceremony and prayed that I die, that my life be taken away. And I pleaded, if it wasn’t time for my life to end, then help me live it to the fullest.
A week or so later, my spiritual teacher came into my life. Inner peace, awakening, even happiness—these things didn’t matter much to me then. I just needed to be okay. To wake up and start my day without dread.
My teacher taught me about the many layers I wore. I liken it to having excessive layers of clothing on. She educated me about the conditioning and programming that we pick up in childhood from our families, schooling and society.
From this, I began to understand we are not our thoughts. That our minds are thought generating machines which start to run our lives. That we must learn to watch these thoughts and stories and begin to question them. After all, if we can question our thoughts, who is doing the questioning and who is doing the thinking?
She taught me how to see the conclusions my mind came to about who I could be, what I could do and how I could live. These mind conclusions became my perspective and outlook on life, which for me had quite a victim slant. And she trained me on how to bring my beliefs into my awareness and do self inquiry on them. I found I held beliefs on just about everything.
The first tool she taught me for starting the self inquiry process and bringing beliefs into awareness is The Because Formula, which goes like this: I ___________ because ________________. We continue this until we reach the root of the belief.
An example is:
I am discouraged because I don’t know how to do it.
I don’t know how to do it because I need help.
I need help because I can’t figure it out.
I can’t figure it out because I’m stupid.
With The Because Formula we can get to the root belief. The root belief is often in simple child-like language, as it’s usually in our childhood that we pick up these beliefs.
A separation started to happen as I removed the layers of conditioning, programming, mind conclusions and beliefs. The truth of who I am, my inner peace, became clearer. And the layers became just that, extra layers that are not me but something I choose to wear.
With this separation occurring, I quickly passed being okay to being happy, joyful, peaceful and free. Everything in my external world changed also. My health improved, my relationships with my family became relaxed and fulfilling. I started a business, moved to a house on a lake and found financial abundance.
And this is when “first and foremost: inner peace” really started to make sense. With more income and a nicer house crept in a fear. What if I lose the income that my lifestyle is now dependent upon?
As I began to question this fear I realized it was based upon the belief that my happiness, my okay-ness, was directly related to my success, my environment and my external circumstances.
But thanks to my training, this fear wasn’t able to go very far. Why? Because I know how to question it. I know it is not true and that my happiness and okay-ness is an inside job, having nothing to do with external circumstances.
The truth is no matter what our external circumstances are, abundance or loss, we are and will be okay. Whether we have a nice house and can pay our bills or we live in a shack and have very little, it doesn’t change who and what we are: peace.
My inner peace is my number one focus. My number one goal. The place everything I do comes from. The place I practice living from, the place I nurture. Therefore, my priority and my constant reminder is first and foremost: inner peace.
It creates a resiliency. We never know, year to year, day to day, moment to moment what life will give us. Things are going great and then boom! A broken leg, losing a job, getting sick, the loss of a loved one, and so on. These things happen in life.
And sometimes I forget. I get caught up in the drama of life. But then I remember the most important words my teacher taught me—first and foremost: inner peace. And I come back to self inquiry, to bringing the root of my discontent into my awareness. Doing this brings me back to me, to inner peace.
Since I have been tending my inner peace, since I have made this my primary focus, everything else in my life is secondary. I have a special confidence and peace that is available to us all. This comes from a knowing that no matter what happens, everything is okay. Because at the core of us is the truth of who and what we are, peace, and this can never be taken from us.
Author: Corrie Stuck
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Jake Melara/Unsplash