Sunday, September 5, 2010

Peace of Mind and Truce of Mind

Peace of Mind is not something money can buy. It's different from the 'Truce of Mind" . Truce is a temporary state that one knows is precarious. Peace of Mind is a deeper state of spiritual awareness. The mind is calm like an ocean where the currents and winds have been stilled. At times in passing there is this state. It's a gift that comes and goes almost independent of self. Peace of Mind though is also a state that comes from right action, work, faith, prayer and that old concept of 'mental hygiene'.

I don't believe that psychopaths or sociopaths have it. I know that people who have killed have nightmares easily triggered by the environment. Their peace of mind is more often a Truce. It's not a gift either but the product of a struggle to keep the demons down.

In addiction the mental stillness that can be called 'blatto' or 'stoned' is only a temporary truce. As long as the distraction of drugs last this false sense of well being is achieved. Like sex or even the distraction of any sensual entertainment after it is over the person returns to being alone with themselves. Most people who isolate don't know peace of mind either. They can be alone with themselves only because being with others is more trying. Their thoughts torment them alone and even more so with others.

The reason cognitive therapy relieves symptoms as does antidepressant medication is because they address this turmoil. One does it by training one mind to break repetitive negative behaviors while the other raises the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline. In the latter it's a bit like priming a pump by adding water or transfusing someone who by stress has overworked their capacity to keep up the supply of happy making chemistry. The problem is that if one continues to do this they are potentially only forestalling breakdown. The best depression therapy combines medication and therapy. Relationship serves to ground and address the cognitive distortions that give rise to emotional dysfunction.

Psychoanalysis and the 12 step programs go to the underlying reasons for the development of depression and loss of peace of mind. Both give insight. If one is capable of changing behaviour with insight then psychoanalysis opens the door to change of behaviour and restoration of peace of mind. In contrast the 12 step program encourages the recognition of the basic motivators of behaviour and encourages the change of behaviour through group process as a consequence of the insight gained through doing the steps.

Religions provide their own ways of encouraging peace of mind. It's one of the draws and spiritual foundations that all religions share. Jnana yoga and St. Augustine both encouraged mantras or affirmations to still the 'monkey brain' or 'demon' distractions.

Guilt and shame increase with environment and actions. If one goes against one's conscience the price is loss of peace of mind. The Bible speaks of this double mindedness and persons at war with themselves. Spiritual Warfare speaks to the struggle for the soul where true awareness of soul is likened to the peace of mind seen in Adam in the Garden of Eden before the fall. It's the promise of the second Jerusalem and the new Adam. Each of us has the internal compass or conscience which when aligned with actions results in the sense of well being and feelings of peace.

Peace of Mind can't be bought. Seeing the rich and famous in the star magazines might look good on the outsides but over the centuries it's been thought easier to acquire wealth and stature in the material world than it is to acquire peace of mind, which to those who have lost it, know well it's pricelessness.

Peace of mind is equally not something the poor naturally know. When survival is the name of the game all one's thoughts and actions go to that end. There is no peace for the starving man or the man without work or the woman vulnerable to the horrors of a deranged society. Buddha had everything but gave it up for peace of mind. Moses could have lived a life of wealth and privilege as a high ranking Egyptian but sacrificed it all for peace of mind. Jesus came from a wealthy class and gave it up to do God's will. Peace of mind in so many ways means the alignment of one's life with life of God.

I don't believe evil people can know peace of mind. I believe they can be wealthy and famous and kill, maim and neglect but history teaches me that Napoleon on the island or in high place never was satisfied. Hitler certainly would never be accused of peace of mind. It's not a trait that comes to mind about Vlad the Impaler. But it's what people felt in the presence of Sister Theresa. It's a quality that Ralf Nader shared with Gandhi and Churchill in later years.

Mostly I think of the peace of mind that Jesus had at the end. Having been at the dying bedside of many I know that there are those who die in peace and those that don't.

I pray that the peace of mind I know may only grow and I too will have that tranquility nurses and doctors so commonly comment on at the beside of the dying. It's as good a reason for doing the right thing as any.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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