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When I was growing up in Northern Ireland my family would often refer to the “Free State.” This was south of the border about 10 miles from my house, and was named so because it wasn’t occupied by the British.
Believing, as children do, every time I visited there I felt free. But I often wondered as a child why we had to cross the border to enter this “free state.”
I partied there, met my first love there, and even got myself a job there.
This reinforced the idea in my head that freedom, peace, and love were to be found out there, over the border somewhere.
Subsequently, I’ve spent the rest of my life in search of this free state.
I tried to find it in leaving home at 18.
In moving countries.
In food and wine.
In building a business.
In spirituality and God.
At best, my search has been fun. It’s even had people admire me and think I was courageous and brave, whilst others condemned me as irresponsible. It’s had me take risks and live life on the edge.
But then last week I had this huge realization. I suddenly saw what my quest had been about, what I’ve been searching for all these years .
I suddenly found my own personal free state, a quieter more settled peace of mind.
Yep that’s all.
That’s what I’ve been crossing oceans for, purchasing programmes, fashion, and 5 star experiences for.
It seems to me that everything has been a “peace purchase,” something to settle down my thinking at the time.
And the shocking thing for me to see?
My peace has never come from any of that. It’s never been “out there.” It’s been within me all the time.
Now you can agree with me and say ”Didn’t you know that?”
But how many of you still think if you had more money in your bank account or a different job or a better body, you’d feel better, more at peace?
It’s one thing to know it and a different thing to see it.
Peace of mind comes from that quiet space we access when we drop a life’s worth of personal chatter and insecure thinking.
So what keeps us from being in this free, more peaceful state, more of the time?
Well, we’re human, and with that comes a mind machine that pumps out millions of thoughts per day. These thoughts colour our perspective on life and have us experience the world in our own unique way.
These thoughts, (often many, sometimes scary) make up our world.
To top it off these thoughts create a feeling in the body, a result of which can scare the life out of us when we think they’re real .
They determine our free or constricted state.
Feelings can be so intense at times they can leave us searching for anything that will settle us down.
And as long as it looks like that’s where our free state, our peace is coming from, we’ll engage in that more of the time.
When I had my realization, I felt a mass of compassion for my behaviour over the years.
I saw why addicts do what they do, why celebrities and the most talented can end up dead in hotel rooms.
Nobody told us how to be human, how to handle the thought storms, the mental hurricanes. Nobody knew what Thought could do.
If there were a manual to being human, a guide perhaps, I think it should read:
“By the way little one, you’re going to have constant stream of personal chatter and insecure thinking in your head, in the form of millions of thoughts per day. They’ll likely form in your childhood and become your habitual way of thinking about yourself and seeing this world.
At best they’ll make you highly self conscious, worried, stressed, or scared and at worst they could lead you into addictions, depression, or even death, but don’t take them seriously. They’re just thoughts. They’re not real and as long as you know that you’ll do okay.”
But then most of the world doesn’t know this. I didn’t know this until recently.
I find myself wondering how life might have turned out for some of the world’s best talents had they known what they were doing and that what they were looking for was always within.
Maybe Amy Winehouse would still be alive now rather than us witnessing her sad attempts for peace of mind through drugs and alcohol.
I know for me, I wish my 18-year-old self had known that she was searching for was always there. Maybe she wouldn’t have resorted to throwing up after every meal to feel better about herself and life.
Had my 21-year-old self known this too, maybe she wouldn’t have been so stressed and anxious about life, suffering insomnia and searching for peace in all the wrong places.
But suddenly I see.
I see what I’ve been striving for, what we’re all innocently striving for in our many different forms.
That free state of mind.
That peace within just beyond our personal chatter and the insecure thoughts we live life by.
We’d love to hear from YOU…
Where have you found peace in your life? What does peace and freedom feel like for you? Leave your answer in the comments below!