Is knowing ourselves a necessary step to achieve peace?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrin from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

Many people think that a good vacation would be sufficient to find peace. However, at the first disagreement with a fellow traveler over whether to visit one place or another, a conflict could arise and pull us away from the peace we crave. Each of us imagines some form of this: “If I didn’t have to work, If I had more money, If I were more beautiful, If I had a comfortable house,” etc.

However, in these examples, the peace we find depends on external elements that might not be within our reach. Or, given all that, we might not find peace within us.

We search for internal peace in external objects. We live, perhaps too much, absorbed in our external experience and drawn towards images that promises peace, happiness, or security if we dress a certain way, if we drive a certain car, if we have a certain partner, if we buy a certain perfume, if we’re skinny or fat.

Can we feel peace in a way that depends only on ourselves?
I would say, yes.

We might begin by being a little easier with ourselves, without craving anything, without searching for anything, without giving energy to the thoughts that invite us to act, without giving energy to passing emotions.

Simply being with yourself, because you are not the passing things which distract you.

Understanding yourself can begin with being in what you are – that is to say: if you wash the dishes, do it with all your attention on that; if you drive, do only that, without thinking about anything else; if you relax, pay attention to the sensations of your body without being pulled away by anything else; if you talk to a friend, put your energy into that relationship and not into what you’ll be doing later; if you play with your child, attend to him or her without thinking that you could be doing something else; even when you have a task ahead of you that you don’t enjoy, you can calm yourself if you let go of thinking that you don’t like it and that you could be somewhere else. You might start there, because that’s where you are and what you are, intentionally present within yourself and what you have in front of you. These brief remarks can’t be a treatise on peace and self-understanding, but if you deliberately make yourself available to being in what you are, you will have begun taking some important steps towards knowing yourself and finding internal peace.

If you take only this one comment with you, that’s fine. But if you decide to do what I’ve suggested, that would indeed be a step in a different direction.

It is always you who decides how you want to live.