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Monday, June 13, 2016

Inner Peace Equals Knowing What to Ignore


Today is an unusually hot day for this time of year. Close to 40 degrees. We're having a heatwave. And it's a working day for many of us. It's made me rather uncomfortable, and caused me to think. What if what were happening had to do with a rude customer service relations person? Or what if what were happening were an aching lower back? Or what if what were happening were an argument I just had with someone close to me? Or what if what were happening were a concern about job security, paying unexpected bills, or relationship issues?

Obviously most people have somewhat - or very - uncomfortable and annoying things going on in their lives at any given moment. That's life. But how much focused attention are you putting on those things? Are you aware of the fact that the more you focus on them, the more they appear to have the power to bother you?

At what place do we find the threshold between ignoring what is going on for our own peace of mind, and allowing others, for example, to trespass your boundaries?

In the muggy weather example, it's clear. The more you ignore it, the more you decide to not pay attention to it, the less it will bother you. Focus on something else. Have cold, soothing drinks. Meditate. Decide to do a portion of your work in the cooler part of the evening, and spend the time of the greatest heat reading that book you've been putting off, or watching that documentary you have on your "to do" list. Recognize that this too, shall pass. The rude customer service relations person may need to be asked to have a better attitude, but to focus on their rudeness, and perhaps go so far as to continue thinking about how much it bothered you, will simply create a greater issue in your head. The aching lower back may need some pills. A massage. Some exercises - perhaps daily exercises for quite some time. But it also requires that you focus elsewhere. There is even some very excellent research (see the book by Dr. Norman Doidge "The Brain's Way of Healing") that indicates how much pain - even decade-long chronic pain - can be dealt with using a very focused kind of mindfulness). In the example of the person with whom I've had an argument, if they were, indeed, trespassing my boundaries, that would have to be dealt with, and most definitely NOT ignored. What you can, however, ignore, or better said, deal with mindfully, are the thoughts that arise that might make you sad, angry, guilty, or disappointed. Learn from the situation, if necessary, examine the thoughts and feelings, but don't dwell on them.

Knowing what to ignore for the sake of inner peace and well-being can be said in very simple terms:
  • accept what is (Tolle)
  • don't mind what happens (Krishnamurti)
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