So many spiritual seekers are hoping to find inner peace and stillness on their journeys. It’s a beautiful motivation, and many of them touch that inner peace in their spiritual practices. But then, the minute someone has an experience, the experience is soon gone.

Where did it go?

And what is stillness? What is inner peace?

Let’s look at stillness and inner peace like this. Let’s say that stillness is oneness. It is that space of witnessing that many of you use in your spiritual practices to watch all the stuff the mind, body, heart, and energy are doing. It’s a space that is not restricted to time, and ultimately, true stillness is not separate from anything. It is always there regardless of the experience you have.

Now for the sake of this blog post, let’s say inner peace is your body, heart, mind, and energy’s collective response to stillness. Stillness is kind of like a role model for our human selves, and the more we pay attention to it, the more our bodies, hearts, and minds tend to relax deeper and longer into inner peace.

But while we all have access to inner peace, we tend to not stay there. We tend to let our attention get distracted and move away from stillness. When that happens, the inner peace goes away as we react to whatever the external world is doing, which is very rarely peaceful. The key is that you continue to place your attention back to stillness. The more you do this, the more inner peace becomes your natural mode of engaging with life, and in this way, you learn to how to live and act from the space of inner peace.

A Spiritual Awakening and Your First Touch of Inner Peace

For many people, the concept of inner peace is foreign to them. For others, it’s just a kind of relaxation, but later on you’ll realize most of your experiences with relaxation have been quite shallow compared to the depths of inner peace that are available to you. For those who have a spiritual awakening, you may experience that awakening initially as an experience of profound peacefulness. It’s like the clouds part, and the sun of awakening shines upon you. And your response in that moment happened to be feeling very peaceful (That’s not always the response, but it can be one of them).

After that first touch, issues start coming up, and there is often a strong desire to return to this inner peace. But there’s a problem. Any experience we ever have is never really the same twice. Additionally, we also tend to normalize to an experience, so it’s not necessarily as profound as it first was. Furthermore, the issues that start coming up are precisely the things standing in the way of going deeper into inner peace, but people don’t usually realize it at first. They just want the good feelings back.

As you start doing inner work, it becomes easier to return to inner peace. But all of that requires continuing to turn your attention back to the eternal stillness within, which makes space for the healing of issues and the spiritual growth that is emerging.

Spiritual Growth and Discovering New Worlds of Expansion

Returning Your Awareness to Stillness Again and Again

Even after awakening, it is the rare human being who keeps their attention on stillness. It’s not really our fault. Most societies do not teach us to put our focus there. Our attention is constantly pointed towards the external world, so this shift in attention goes against just about every belief we have. Yet, in making this shift, we come to better understand how to mindfully engage in this world.

To be clear, returning your attention to stillness is not about ignoring the external world. It’s not like you are excluding thoughts, memories, emotions, daily events, and other things from your awareness. It’s quite the opposite. Stillness embraces all of that. As you learn more about your ego, you’ll realize that it’s the one that excludes things. Your unconscious ego forces away some memories and focuses on others. It avoids and represses certain emotions while trying to re-create different ones. It seeks certain experiences in life while trying to get away from others. This type of ongoing exclusion of parts of ourselves and life exacerbates separation, and that leads to suffering.

Cycles of Pain and Suffering

But it’s actually very simple to return to being with stillness. You return your attention to the space of the witness, and you watch the cacophony of emotions, thoughts, events, and sensations. You practice having no response to any of this at first. As you do that, it becomes natural to know when and how to respond to a particular issue. This is what I mean when I say that you go inside-out. You go in to stillness, and then you can see clearly enough to take conscious action. This beautiful ability only grows as you continue to return your attention to stillness. The more you do that, the more a powerful union between your everyday operating consciousness and that pure oneness arises on its own.

Expanding Into Union

As I said earlier, our initial experiences with inner peace is often shallow. But if you’ve never been in the waters of union in any way before, it sure seems deep. However, as we continue to let go of parts of our ego, we sink deeper.

And to reiterate, it’s our human selves that sink deeper into inner peace and experiences of union. Our human selves are always changing, but when we bring attention to stillness, our human selves align to that. We naturally become more peaceful, and we naturally become aware of any inner parts of ourselves that are still holding on to pain, illusion, and other forms of separation.

At no time does union with stillness ever reject other experiences of life. It enfolds all painful and pleasurable experiences into its fabric. So we too learn what it means to enfold all aspects of life into ourselves. This is part of a maturing spiritual being.

Signs of a Maturing Soul

Meanwhile, true stillness does not change. It is timeless and changeless. Through bringing our attention to it, we continue to expand into a human experience of union with all of life and deepen further into experiences of inner peace that are harder and harder for life to interrupt.

Dissolving More Subtle Layers of Illusion

Because so many people are caught up in ideas, it’s easy for a lot of people to think they’re dissolving subtle layers of illusion when they are not. I can only point you towards greater and greater humility about all that you don’t know about yourself. Any of you who have done any amount of inner work will have discovered plenty of things you didn’t know about yourself, and that should both inspire you to go inwards further and to be humble about the power of ignorance. Ignorance is the darkness that blinds us to ourselves, and there are a lot of layers of that illusion.

As you continue to rest your attention in stillness, that is like feeding a natural fire. When your human self makes space for the timeless self, the combination can be quite powerful. It is like joining with the river and letting go of your resistance to the flow of it. That surrender allows the flow to move more powerfully in transforming us. The loss of resistance then leads naturally to a loss of more illusions. They keep burning up. Your perspective expands. Your ability to access deeper levels of inner peace grow.

Spiritual Transformation and Seeking Spiritual Help for Your Process

The Simplicity of Stillness and Awareness

For my mature spiritual readers, you may still be in awe of the power of your own awareness and the simplicity of it all. There is so little to do. But that little doing–that movement of awareness away from a fixation on the external to the truth of the internal–is powerful. It is a well-timed paddle of the oar in the river, and then the river does the rest.

This shift in attention is often so simple that that too can break another spell of the complicated ego. The more we sit in simplicity, the more the ideas about how complicated everything must be break down. Life gets simpler.

Simplicity and Spirituality: The Loss of Ego Complication

This simplicity and the resulting clarity may bring new challenges to relationships even after you’ve changed many of them and had major life changes before. It’s okay. These new challenges are part of the spiritual maturation process, and it’s a human truth that all of life is change. At no time is any of this spiritual transformation about achieving a static end point to all of this change. That’s still a misconception of the ego that arises from a need for safety. Instead, we continue to align ourselves with stillness and learn to effortlessly embrace all this change. This makes it all so much easier with which to deal. The ego self is always grabbing onto branches or rowing in circles in the river of life depending on if it thinks it likes or does not like something. But many of you have already learned how little your ego knows about what is right for you, haven’t you? It’s usually just getting in the way or turning things into an outright catastrophe with over-complication, issues, false beliefs, and just plain old fear.

Yet even if you find yourself getting entangled with some new thorny bush in your flow, coming back to stillness will help you to untangle yourself soon enough.

The Child (Human Self) Grows Up When Guided by the Parent (True Self)

Finally, you may want to think of stillness or the true self as a parent. S/he is there all the time with you and offers the best kind of guidance. Stillness is being the best kind of role model you could ever want. Each time you bring your attention back to stillness/the true self, you (the child) is learning. You’re learning to emulate this spiritual adult within you, and in learning, you mature. In maturing, you tend to deepen further into inner peace as you let go of so many things that are constantly disturbing your human experience. Inner peace becomes more and more present as your default way of living and experiencing life.

Entering Your Spiritual Adulthood

Life will continue to throw curve balls, dirt balls, and every other kind of crazy pitch it can. But the reactions we have to these changes further diminish as we keep our greater attention on stillness. In turn, we tend to sink deeper into inner peace, which is in no way ignorant or blind to reality. Inner peace is an opening to all of life, not a closing to anything. We are learning to see and accept what is. Additionally, the path to profound openness requires us to deal with a whole bunch of our own pain first because pain is blinding and inhibiting. That healing process makes the transition that many of you are traversing uncomfortable and perpetuates the illusion that being “open” is painful instead of peaceful. But this pain was already here. Now you have to resolve it.

The Default Mode of Inner Peace

It is my experience that inner peace is actually natural to human beings. Our hearts, bodies, and minds don’t want to hold onto tensions and pain. But we learn to hold on as a very messed up coping mechanism. The more you drop inwards, the more you return to this inner peace.

Interestingly enough, that space of peace seems to grow. It’s quite wonderful. It’s like how a tree continues to grow on its own. Without obstruction, our branches reach out wider and wider. We may feel more wind and experience more elements in this opening of our branches (opening to life), but when our roots are grounded in stillness, it does not truly disturb us. Any disturbance we do feel is felt for shorter and shorter times simply because we do not hold unconscious pain inside of us (or little of it) nor do we entertain the same types of false beliefs that we once had.

So we keep growing in this beautiful and effortless way regardless of whatever life blows our way good or bad.

Inner Peace Expands and Expands

As we become more peaceful, we also are less likely to get worked up over pleasurable things. This isn’t a bland, neutral response. But we are much more on an even keel, and we can be with these momentary joys as they come and let them go too. There’s no need to get completely lost in blissful or enjoyable experiences as we deepen into inner peace. There’s a way that peacefulness tends to be more enjoyable anyway. It’s hard to describe until you really sit in it. Then the agitation of some of these joyful events actually is much less enjoyable or interesting. Sure, you still have fun. This isn’t a loss of an ability to have fun. I suppose it’s simply an understanding of what true fun and joy are.

Ultimately, union is a great joy–a joy beyond most other forms of blissful and fun experiences to which we’re accustomed. So we return our attention to union with stillness as much as is humanly possibly. We never ignore our separateness, but we let union enfold that separateness like our own patch into the infinite blanket of life. Wrapped in this beautiful comforter, we allow our human selves to enmesh further into this fabric. That seems to bring only deeper inner peace that becomes simply how we live life.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.

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