How to Stay Calm Even When Times are Tough

surfing inner peace

“Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.” – Joan Borysenko

If I look back into my life over the past 5 years, there have been many ups and downs in my story, or, my circumstances. It hasn’t necessarily been a steady, easy path. At certain points, it’s felt like an emotional roller coaster.

Slowly though, as if a seed was planted, a feeling of peace within me has been growing all the while.

I’ve often watched friends, colleagues, and my own thoughts get caught up in believing that in taking a path towards self-awareness, things get easier (circumstances get better).

In some ways, there’s truth to that: life does become more effortless, incredible, powerful, magical, and almost unbelievable circumstances do transpire. And because you live by your feeling rather than by what your circumstances and thinking say, you expand into greater possibilities.

BUT, things also become more challenging, too.

The truth is the path of love is about knowing yourself. It’s knowing who you are beyond your circumstances, and so it makes perfect sense that your circumstances would continue to go up and down around you, doesn’t it? When circumstances go up and down, it’s you who have the opportunity to experience the joy that’s unattached and free from your circumstances; that’s what deepens: the peace inside of you.

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It’s the difference between riding the waves on the top of the ocean where it’s tumultuous, and having a deeper awareness that you are the ocean, where you do not experience the up and down because you are in the steadiness of the depth. The ups and downs of the ocean still take place, but you do not experience them as tumultuous.

The path to knowing who you are is not expecting your life circumstances to turn to gold, it’s the experience of staying in the joy of your beingness no matter what arises.

Recently I went on a trip to Italy with my own mentor, Amir Zoghi, who has been supporting me for over 4 years, along with a group of people who are committed to knowing themselves. The trip out there couldn’t have been more effortful if I’d tried. Everything went wrong!

My international flight was canceled when I arrived, saying “no info,” something I’ve never even seen before. The attendants booked me on another flight but told me that I’d have to get my boarding pass for the 2nd leg of the flight in Rome to make it to Florence. I missed the connection, only to discover I was flying standby.

A feeling of inspiration struck me to take a train, but Rome lost my luggage, so I stayed to file paperwork for hours. The train ride was incredible, but I still missed the afternoon group bus, dinner, and the beginning of the retreat. I couldn’t even log onto the internet to let them know, trying three different ways.

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In the past, I would have reacted to some or all of these circumstances, first being angry and reactive to others, then frustrated, and finally sad at the surrender to the loss of control. Or, I would have analyzed what these circumstances mean about me. I would have wondered what I could have done differently

Instead, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t even disappointed. If there was a moment of frustration at any point, I gave no energy to it and came back to my center. I stayed in the flow. It didn’t mean anything; it was just the story I was experiencing.

Once I arrived at the retreat, I let it the past experiences go, like a dog shaking off the wet, I moved on and into the next activities. In fact, there was nothing to let go of, I just didn’t think about it. The group I was in at the retreat went on to win a competition and I was voted one of the most impactful persons at the retreat, winning a great prize as a result. 

I could have perceived the beginning of the trip as effortful, and negative, becoming effortless, and positive. Instead, I didn’t label either one negative or positive. I didn’t get lost in the up or down because both were effortless on the inside.

Walking the path of love is not about creating effortless circumstances, although often you do, it’s maintaining a sense of effortless flow within yourself.
That’s the path of inner peace, realizing that you are not your emotional reactions!

There’s a great quote from a film ‘I heart Huckabees’ that explains how when you integrate the truth, “you can relax… because everything you could ever want, or be, you already have and are.”

I didn’t react to the story of crazy transportation because I live with the everyday awareness that everything happens because of me. When you live a path of inner peace, you realize that nothing is happening to you, but everything is happening for you, and a great feeling of peace takes over your life. This is what it means to take true responsibility for your world.

The other day I spoke with someone who has just started working with me about on the truth about inner peace. She was saying how she knew this stuff, “I teach people about consciousness myself,” she’d said. “That’s awesome,” I acknowledged with a genuine smile, but she was also expressing worry for her future in a decision she was making. I pointed out, “you are saying you know this stuff, but if you really knew it, would you still be experiencing fear?” She admitted, “well, no.”

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I said to her what I say to myself, and what I’ve said to many others: “You get to a point of knowing ‘this stuff,’ maybe even teaching it, but that doesn’t mean you are living it outside of your own head. At first it’s knowledge you acquire, and it inspires you, but you get to a point where you have the opportunity to experience what you know in your every day. And isn’t that the point? Because if you really knew the truth about what it means to be conscious, you wouldn’t be in fear.”
Living without fear, that’s when life becomes a joy!

It’s not that I don’t personally ever experience fear arise as a result of my circumstances. I do, it’s just that my reaction to the fear is different. I don’t give it any power, and I tell the truth about the circumstance and the fear itself. “I am the one asking for this circumstance to happen for my own experience to support me. I am not this fear. I am…”

The greatest realizations of who you truly are come not when your circumstances are smooth, but when you are connected with peace on the inside with or without steady circumstances.

To be on the path of knowing yourself is to know yourself as being, joy, happiness itself, independent of your circumstances. And it is then that you have more power to decide what you love your circumstances to be, consciously. Or rather, you become more and more aware that you are the one that is writing the entire script, both when the shit hits the fan and when your life circumstances delight you.