The evidence from neuroscience suggests that the one change that changes everything for a human being is the mindful shift from a conditioned state of stress and anxiety to a dynamic state of inner peace. Sustaining this shift literally stimulates the brain connectivity which generates neural integration. Neural integration represents an exponential increase in brain function that delivers the level of intelligence and well-being that predicts a more successful, happier, and healthier life.
Yet, as much as we may strive for such a result, making the shift from fear to peace is the one change that has tended to elude most of us. Our high-pressure culture has buried peace of mind under an impossible to-do list of a thousand other priorities and demands, affording peace little chance to spread its magnificent wings and lift us higher into a more expansive experience of life. We can think we have no time or opportunity for even a moment’s peace and tend to regard peace as a far-off, unattainable ideal that only monks in Himalayan caves achieve. But take heart, peace and its ascendant joy are not far off. Both are as near to you as your own thoughts.
Peace is a natural state that arises all by itself when we meet its conditions, which, first and foremost, is letting go of fearful thinking. This book offers you a simple path to accomplishing just that. In using the word “simple” I do not necessarily mean “easy”, but I do assert that the simpler life gets, the easier it gets, and peace simplifies everything. To quote Thomas Merton, “All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear.” And what matters most in building a powerful brain is the quality of your inner experience as you face the outer world.
Make no mistake, our very cells take their signals from our state of mind, and peace is the crown jewel of a positive mindset that can change our biology, alter the way our genes express, and expand higher brain function to enable us to transform possibilities into probabilities. Despite the evidence, our cultural institutions continue to promote fear - from schools, to religion, politics, business, and media. Seen from within a competitive, aggressive value system peace appears weak, complacent or withdrawn, instead of what it is, which is the neurological catalyst that drives success. “In a world of fugitives,” states T.S. Eliot, “the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”
Peace is a radical change in direction. Here is what is radical about it:
- In an high stress culture, it is radical to discover that the fearful stress-provoking thoughts we are believing are often not even true, but largely mind-made illusions that vanish like smoke when we stop believing them.
- It is radical to flow through a challenging task and succeed by virtue of the presence, enthusiastic engagement, and creativity that inner peace sustains.
- It is radical to experience the joy and serenity that arises all by itself when we are not afraid of anything.
- It is radical to lift our thinking from its dense and pointless preoccupations, quietly witnessing the beauty and mystery happening all around us.
- It is radical to engage a storm of adversity with calm, creativity and optimism when others are losing theirs.
- It is radical to let go of a depressing past and an anxious future to be wholly present and at peace with nothing between us and happiness.
- It is radical to free ourselves to change and grow into who we want to be simply by accepting ourselves exactly as we are.
- It is radical to allow our grievances and regrets to dissolve in unconditional positive regard for everyone, including (most especially) ourselves.
- It is radical to see our criticism and judgments of others as a projection of what remains unhealed in us.
- It is radical to learn that being vulnerable is how we grow stronger.
- It is radical to discover that the intrinsic worth of a human being is unconditional, independent of his or her strengths, faults, successes or failures. It is radical to think that whether we live in a penthouse on Fifth Avenue or under a freeway, we are worthy; whether we are a teetotaler or an alcoholic on a bar stool, at our core we are golden; whether we are the chief of police or behind bars, we belong.
- It is radical to learn that anticipating a desired outcome optimistically sets in motion a chain of positive thoughts, feelings, actions, and grace that work together to make the outcome happen.
These ways of relating to life all represent a radical shift – a 180° shift for most people - but when sustained it can generate an enormous change in the way the brain functions, giving us the capacity to switch our experience at the point of inception from stressed, reactive, and negative to calm, creative and positive.
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