What Is Peace? India and the West
After returning from a trip to India, I noticed something strange about people in the West. Everyone seemed to be in some kind of trance. As I arrived at the airport, I noticed that everyone was walking in rigid straight lines, no one spoke to anyone, no one made eye contact, and they were oblivious to anything that was happening around them.
This was strange to see, especially after the rush you experience when you walk through a main street in Calcutta. Everyone is talking, people are chatting to each other and strangers, there are cars everywhere and all you can hear around you is life. People are experiencing what it is to be alive in their surroundings without being preoccupied with what they’re going to do later. They are in the moment, present in their surroundings and reacting to whats happening around them. Something rarely seen in the West.
In the guest article below, Subtilian from Cogitophilia tells us to achieve Peace by being more playful and present. Its the only way to be because the present is all we have.
Peacefulness via Playfulness
We spend our young lives learning to follow certain guidelines of “good” behavior. Your teachers tell you to sit still at your desk and be quiet. Your mother scolds you for being hyperactive in the grocery store. You learn to play along and your behavior becomes smoothed out and uniform. You tuck yourself up inside your head and a little more distant from the world around you
By the time you are an adult and there’s no one to tell you what to do, your behavior has become instinctively mundane and you are practically trapped inside your mind. Externally you have to do things that are boring and stressful, and internally you are bored and stressed.
What you need to regain is whimsy. Whimsy is being open to opportunities for the present moment to be pleasant or exciting.
Often it doesn’t feel like any such opportunities exist. My perfect example is just walking. Sidewalks are pretty much the ultimate in the mundane. They encourage you to walk straight on a level surface, only adjusting your stride to cross the street or turn left or right. It teaches you to behave that way, to think that way. Your eyes focus in on the patch of cement ahead of you and you keep an even stride until you reach your destination, all the while your head is elsewhere.
But your possibilities aren’t actually so limited! Start by expanding your focus. Don’t look at any one thing at first; just try to see the whole of the scene laid out in front of you. Then begin to take in all of the beautiful little details. Watch the people around you and how they interact. Take note of the structure of your surroundings – landscape and architecture. Appreciate the relationship between every tiny thing in the place that you are. Look up!
All too often we forget to look up because there isn’t much up there, but you can just appreciate the appearance of the sky. When something catches your attention, stop and consider it for a moment.
Now you’ve mentally reconnected with your environment (and freed yourself from the pointless and taxing thoughts you were likely just having), you can begin to bring variety and liveliness back to your movement. Trot across the street and leap to the curb. Play around with your gait and pay attention to the way individual parts of your body move. Do basic movements cartoonishly, like swing a leg out and pivot when you need to turn. I like to walk along short concrete ledges like they’re balance beams.
Sing in the shower. Sing out loud to yourself a bit – badly – even if there are people around (nobody there matters enough for you to care about what they think).
Smile. Breathe deeply. Remember how much possibility exists even in simple moments.
Anyone can feel at peace when they’re idly sitting by a lake on a beautiful day as the sun sets. Learning to feel that way even when you’re in line at the DMV is the true test. A sense of whimsy will go a long way.