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Excerpt from "Stillness in Mind"

One Mind, Peace of Mind

by Simon Cole

Peace is an attitude of mind.

If you don’t believe me, picture the scene when you last felt totally at peace… lying in the sun on the beach; curled up by the fire with a good book; strolling hand in hand through the park with the person you love…  Are you there, completely, in your mind?  Appreciate it, because I’m about to spoil it. 

Now remember something that annoyed you… the person who always leaves their dirty coffee cup on your desk; the people who pushed onto the tube before you’d had a chance to get off; your boss giving you yet another ridiculous deadline… What’s happened to your total peace?

Try it again from the top, only this time, before you picture your peaceful scene, tell yourself that your peace is the most important thing, that peace is like a calm sea, that you can keep it with you come what may, that you can stay serene, with a stillness in mind.  Go to your peaceful scene and feel good.  Then let that annoying thing into your thoughts, but also keep in your mind the calm sea and being serene.  Chances are you’ll be able to think about what annoyed you, but it won’t get you worked up.

So, you might find peace watching a sunset, or sitting on a beach or by a lake with the water lapping at your feet, but peace can also be a barefoot walk in Hyde Park with the roar of London traffic only a couple of hundred yards away, or sinking into the seat after you’ve just rushed for the bus.

Peace is an attitude of mind.  And the key is one mind.

The trouble with our minds is that they’re everywhere.  And all at once.  We can’t literally think of two things at the exact same moment, but our minds flit so fast from one thing to another that it seems like that.  It never stops.  There is something going on all the time.  What’s more it often doesn’t have much to do with what is actually happening or what we’re actually doing.  It’s babble. If we’re lucky it might be sensible commentary, but it’s more likely so be something from the past, or it might be something we’re guessing about the future, but it probably isn’t connected with right NOW.

If our minds are completely focused on what is around in the moment, they are either aware of what we are doing and keeping it going, or they’re reflecting on what we feel. Those are the only two possibilities.

Go back to your feeling of peace.  You were bringing up a memory, which gave you your feeling of peace.  If you wanted to,you could stay with this feeling and then the tale of that person who had annoyed you, was just that… a story about something which had gone and didn’t have to disturb your calm.

This fits in with how we think of mindfulness.  When we are being mindful, we have our attention on what is immediately happening for us, without even making an issue of whether we like it or not, just being aware of what it is and how it’s happening.  If it’s something which we are actually doing ourselves, then we are simply focused on doing it, like the Zen maxim, when you’re sitting just sit, when you’re standing just stand, when you’re washing up just wash up.  (The last one is mine.) 

Just doing something - one mind, without the background babble - is being mindful.  And it brings peace.

Simon Cole runs a retreat centre in France, having worked in psychological health in the UK for over 20 years.  Holder of a Masters with distinction and special award in counselling from Ripon and York St John, he is a senior-accredited counsellor, with experience in the Health Service as well as in private practice in Britain.  He also developed and ran a progressive counsellor training programme to advanced diploma level at Carlisle College.  He has long used mindfulness and meditation alongside his professional work and has formulated the Clear Space Meditation Path as an integrated model,incorporating established psychotherapeutic practices, to produce a western method for personal development and healing.

Website: http://www.life-counselling.co.uk/

Stillness in Mind - a companion to mindfulness,meditation and living by Simon Cole, is being published by ChangemakersBooks 28th November 2014.

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