Here at the retreat we often talk about inner peace in the assumption that others can truly appreciate what that is, however in most discussions it becomes clear that most of us are so far from it, that we can't even imagine it.
A life anything but peaceful
For most of us, life began and almost immediately became a perpetual "learning" journey of the things we "should" do, be, want, have, think, fear and more. Born free of limitations and constraints, we quickly accumulate lots of rules and objectives, goals and destinations together with so many things to be feared and avoided too.
Human life has become a complex navigation of the ideas that we are given as the right or wrong way to live our lives. The way our parents wanted us to live and the way we are influenced and inspired to be by the role models we are bombarded with on TV, film, in books and on social media.
It quickly starts to appear that there really is a good and bad way to be a human and that it really matters how we live our lives, especially in what we do, where we go, how we think, what our job looks like, family life, the list goes on...
This is a structure of conceptual ideas that are applied to humans quite immersively and systematically, as well as unintentionally by parents and peers who have been persuaded that those ideas really matter too.
What does it mean?
The result for most people in the western world especially is that we spend most of our time navigating that minefield that is this structure of who we should be and what we should do in the limited time we are in this life.
We are inspired to find things that will represent being successful and happy and to chase them, such as money, family, travel, career, fitness, hobbies, health, diet and so much much.
Very soon after this indoctranation starts we find ourselves on a sort of treadmill, taking a very planned journey towards having that perfect, fulfilled life. We quickly start to embed what that "should" mean and we are clear that life is about doing this human thing well and to the planned method. What does that mean? It means that we need to perform, work hard at school, behave a certain way, say certain things, think certain things, get a "good" job, earn a specific amount of money, travel to some key places, eat certain things, do certain excercises and avoid too much of what is "not good for us" which is a set of ever changing contradictions coming from many sources.
This chaos of subjective ideas accumulates and becomes for most, a life of endless planning, overthinking, careful management of words and actions and a huge pressure to be the thing we are "supposed" to be.
Triggered by everything
The interesting thing about these strong ideas about how to be, do, have, think, fear and live is that each one creates a trigger within us to such an extent that if the world or people, places and things in it deviate from the structure, we are bound into endless thought and reaction. The expectations are strongly set and as soon as they are tested or broken by the world outside, we are forced into inner and outer conflict and overthinking as a result.
Triggers are simply attached ideas that react to the world outside and create thoughts and reactions as a result. Anything that disagrees with or touches those ideas becomes important and as such creates lots of thinking and involuntary reaction.
This means that even when we are not intending to think, the minefield of the world and the structure that "should" be being complied with by it and others and especially by ourselves, creates a thought storm every time it deviates from expectation. The interesting thing being that the biggest culprit for deviation is usually ourself and when that happens we become the biggest self critic too and disappointed by ourselves ,which seems to eventually create more thoughts than anything else.
It's all about importance and truth
These triggers and this rigidity of the being, doing, having, wanting and so on comes from a pattern that has taken over the human species like a virus. It is our habit and compulsive ability to decide that anything, no matter how subjective or on a grand scale meaningless, is very important or very true. We create personal truths that really, really matter to us out of deeply subjective ideas. Ideas that really don't matter to many others but that can then govern almost everything in the way we live our whole lives.
At this point we end up in a compulsive fight for what we believe is important and true. Decide you need good grades at school and it becomes like the world depends on it, decide you want a relationship and you become obsessive and lonely and feel bad about why you can't get one. If meat is murder, you need to fight for it and if your pronouns matter then you become triggered when anyone fails to address you as needed. It's all so important and true.
The underlying reality is that we can make anything true and make anything matter, no matter what the evidence is of the opposite. On a planet that's reportedly been here for 13.8bn years and where humans have been present for only 200,000 of those years, which by the way is the tiniest of fraction of the whole time, we can decide it really matters that cows fart, believe it's true that we are changing the climate catastrophically and limit our lives dramatically to save something which on the grand scheme of things could never be impacted by us. After all, the planet has been here long before humans and will be here long after but what about "protecting the species" I hear you say, well we can make that important too if you like.
Our choices of what really matters across all areas of our lives and the sheer number of ideas we hold about what we want to be, do or have create non-stop thought chaos and endless planning to reach what we want and avoid what we don't. On our search for inner peace, this couldn't be further from the goal.
So what is inner peace?
What if by default your mind was totally silent? No thoughts and no inner conflict? What if you had nowhere to be, nothing to do and nothing to have. How could that ever happen and would it be ok with you? Most people reading that are probably triggered already. The very idea of wanting nothing, being nothing or needing nothing in their lives just doesn't fit. It sounds scary and meaningless, especially when you hold the strong idea that it would not be "right or OK" to have no wants or aspirations, to accomplish nothing or to do nothing. But where did those ideas come from and is that what would actually happen in the absence of all those thoughts?
The truth is that we are so programmed and indoctrinated that even though at some level we all know that what we are searching for is inner peace, we deeply believe that the description above can't be the right way for a human to be and anticipate that it would leave us doing nothing meditating in a cave somewhere.
The truth is far from that and our journey to and at the retreat has revealed that inner peace comes when we truly let go of and drop the conditioned beliefs that represent all the things we "should" be doing, being and having. As we realise that we have been falsely making almost everything important and true when nothing actually is, we see that we have spent a lifetime chasing and avoiding, planning and thinking, fearing and reacting for no reason at all other than the subjective ideas we were given or more accurately programmed with, along the way.
Inner peace comes when you see it for what it is and allow yourself to take a leap of faith, surrender to the flow and let go.
No more triggers, no need to plan or think
As we see that nothing we previously thought was important actually is, that what's already happened is gone and the future is an imagined destination or projection that we believe needs to be a certain way in order to be happy, we see that we are missing the biggest poiunt of all.
The only moment you ever have is now and if you can't be happy there, then you will never reach the future projection where you've decided your happiness actually is. At somepoint the future will become the now and when you get there you will still be completely missing the now in favour of projecting the next imagined thing that you've decided will bring you happiness.
As we see it all as it really is, we allow ourselves to see that it's all just happening and was never within our control anyway. There's no good and bad, right and wrong, shoulds and shouldn'ts because they are all just subjective ideas that in the main others have made up about it all. We are alsways at liberty to say things are true or really important but in truth our belief in them won't make it so, and others will always believe the oposite as is the nature of subjectivity.
On letting go of it all, the planning stops and the triggers disappear, leaving the mind quiet and the true self, the experiencer within, able to enjoy this moment and the next without the endless, thinking and planning. There's no more expectation and no more self criticism as a result, there's just what's happening and full, immersive engagement with it, with nowhere else to be and nothing else to be doing or being.
There is only joy in thoughlessness
As we start to find the peace inside we also realise that in the absence of thoughts there is only joy. When there are no thoughts are telling you to be somewhere else, do something else, be someone else, have something else you realise that you are deeply fulfilled in this moment.
The only thing to then do is enjoy this moment and the next withought judging it in thought. Inner peace is when you deeply realise that nothing you previously thought is true, that the ideas you had of what you needed were a made up story and that none of it will ever really matter unless you say it does, which will always be your choice but also a commitment to lost peace.
In this unattached place you are happy inside no matter what the outside brings, and you are at peace and untrggered no matter what too. It is then and only then that you will truly see and feel what inner peace actually means. It means that you are in balance, peaceful and joyful, and that whats outside of you really doesn't matter.
This has been your life-long destination but it's been impossible to see beyond all of the thoughts telling you that your happiness was to be found somewhere in the subjective idea structures you were given. Was it? You decide but in their absence we can tell you there is deep joy and fulfillment.
We share what we do at the retreat because this journey has revealed itself to us and we can help you reveal it to yourself too, at which point you will become truly independent of the world outside, deeply fulfilled in your true self and nothing will ever truly matter again. This is lifes journey into and out of subjectivity.