Well, if peace is the state of unity between two or more entities (people, nations, worlds, etc.), then peace of mind must be the state of unity between two or more mentalities, or thoughts.
This dilemma is well laid out in the letter that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote to the church.
“When a man asks [something of God], he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
If that does not describe a mind at war with itself, I don’t know what does!
When I have read this in the past, I have thought, ‘Well, that makes sense; you can’t believe and doubt at the same time. It just doesn’t work.’
But in thinking about peace of mind, this caused another thought to arrive.
Several years back I read a book about getting things done and organizing that has stayed with me ever since. It presented the concept of ‘Mind Like Water’. This concept was originally taken from the martial arts.
The technique is to picture your mind as a pond. A person with a jumbled mind is like a wild pond, blown by the wind, choppy and unstable. A person with peace of mind is like a calm pond, smooth as glass.
Do you have this picture in your mind? Good!
Now, imagine throwing a rock into the pond. In the jumbled mind, you may see the splash, but that is all you may notice.
Now, picture your smooth mind, a peace of mind. Throw the stone into the middle of that pond. Not only do you see the splash, but you can even watch the ripples roll out toward the edge, bounce off and reflect and intersect with other ripples. You can see how your splash interacted and affected to rest of the pond.
This is the state of ‘mind like water’, the state of peace of mind.
How do we get there? How do we attain peace of mind? How do we turn from “an unstable man in all our ways” into a person with peace of mind?
In this fast-paced society moving at the speed of light, keeping hundreds of thoughts in our mind at one time, we can hardly see how any item affects the other. It is difficult to see how new tasks or requests affect others. Our minds are a choppy, heaving pond, and new needs from our families, ideas we have, or thoughts we are trying to keep are more splashes lost in the sea.
We need clarity! We need to take each wave (a task) and gust of wind (a thought) and each crashing wave on the pond’s shore (a need from family or friends) out of our head and calm our pond (minds) down.
Well, in this book, ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen (pick up a copy! you won’t regret it), he proposes the following.
Take a pad of sticky notes or note paper.
For every thought you have running around your mind, write it alone on its own sheet of paper or give it its own sticky.
Put it in an inbox of some kind. Every e-mail you need to respond to, every errand you always wanted to run, every bill you need to write a check for, every room you need to clean; give them their own piece of paper or sticky and put it in the inbox.
Now: JUST KEEP GOING. Exhaust your mind. Take everything out of it. Put it all, and I mean ALL, in the inbox.
Take an entire day to empty your mind. Take 2 days. Take all day, as long as it takes, to download each thought from your mind.
Then, take a deep breath. Exhale. Let it out. Do you not feel better? Does it not feel good to see these things in a basket somewhere, and not clouding your mind?
Now, take a nap! Run around the lake. Go to a movie. Relax already! You should feel totally relieved.
When time comes, flip the inbox upside down so that you are dealing with the oldest items first. And one at a time, deal with them. (Read ‘Getting Things Done’ to see their flowchart of how to deal with those items.)
You have a system to deal with these things.
So, the question stands: can this help in spiritual issues? Can we achieve ‘mind like water’?
Well, don’t get so stinkin’ religious on me. James, the brother of Jesus, thought it was good to describe the mind like water, and we can, too!
So often, Christians have so much running around their brain. We think a lot of this is spiritual, and many times it is. But, there is also a ton of little non-spiritual items rattling around our brain.
First, get all of the non-spiritual stuff out of our minds. Once our mental ponds are smooth and glass, we are no longer “double-minded”. We are stable and at peace.
This means that we are ready to tackle spiritual issues. We are prepared to throw a rock in the pond and watch how the ripples will affect us. We can put a thought in our mind and think through how that affects our lives.
In the letter that James wrote, he was dealing with doubt versus faith. What is it you are dealing with? What should I do about thus and so? Can I deal with the potential outcomes? Am I thinking clearly?
Is ‘mind-like-water’ the only technique to being able to attain peace of mind? Certainly not! There are many other tools to help us think better.
This is just one of many various tools we can use to help us calm our minds, and achieve, peace of mind.