Some people find harmony by striding down a crowded, bustling urban street, hammering out a deal on their Blackberry. For others harmony is found in silence, space, big trees and solitude. Harmony happens most easily when you’re living the life you want. You’re doing what floats your boat, and life just feels right.
Unlike harmony in music, math or physics, each person’s experience of life harmony is unique. But because we live in a world of contrast and change, any sense of harmony that depends on outer circumstances is bound to be jostled and knocked out of alignment – sometimes frequently.
Out of harmony
Challenges in health, love, money or work are hard to avoid, and some are easier to restore to harmony than others. But what can really mess with your mind is impending change – especially change that seems to be out of your hands, when events appear to be moving you away from what you want. Sometimes they seem to keep going in the wrong direction no matter how hard you struggle.
Or you could be experiencing the kind of soul-deep restlessness and incompleteness that usually indicates it’s time for you to make a change, no matter how much you hate the thought. For some, though, even getting close to a sense of harmony seems impossible. If you’ve grown up in challenging circumstances, or recently been hammered by difficulties- or if your experience tells you that life just isn’t on your side, and that there’s nothing you can do to change it – harmony seems to exist in another universe entirely.
Find and keep it
To put it simply, maintaining harmony is about finding your center. This is easiest to define in martial arts terms. The martial arts teach that your center is an actual place in your body which, when you focus there, allows you to move immediately in any direction with speed, balance and strength.
You can find the same kind of center in your mind, emotions and spirit if you cultivate an attitude of mind and heart that allows you to respond in the moment to any situation with calm and optimism. Once you know how to get to that place and stay there, harmony is yours.
For at least as long as there’s been written language, philosophers in every culture have recorded their thoughts about how to maintain harmony, and they pretty much agree that it’s all about a positive attitude. No matter how it is achieved – meditation, non-attachment, faith, trust, or self-confidence – a positive attitude is at the core of a harmonious existence.
Of course, self-confidence is a powerful basis for your positive attitude. If you believe in your heart and soul that you can cope with anything, then many of life’s fears won’t get you down. But self-confidence isn’t enough to keep you in a state of harmony by itself. You can have full faith in your ability to cope with anything and still be desperately unhappy. So what’s the missing ingredient?
If you have a spiritual practice that sustains and nourishes you, or if your friends, family, or spiritual community is very supportive of you – or if you believe in a higher power that always works toward well being – then you have found one of the two best paths to harmony.
But very often a person’s spiritual practice leads them to an even more powerful path, grounding them in a spiritual reality that can sustain or restore harmony like magic. It seems like the opposite of self-confidence – and yet, amazingly, it confers a deeper and more permanent level of confidence, one that is rooted in a sense of being one with the Divine. It is something that is activated by your open, optimistic participation in life.
Buddhists define this state as one of non-attachment. It means you’re willing to let go of control, to accept the situation when challenges and changes crop up. Experience or faith (or both) have taught you that it’s a good idea to go along for the ride – first, because it’s more restful than struggling, but also (and even more importantly) because very often your higher power is creating something far better than you could have imagined on your own. You just need to stay centered, and alert to the possibilities along the way.
When you’re able to take what comes – to go through life with your head up, your eyes open and a delighted interest in everything that occurs, because you just know that the future is a gift waiting to for you to unwrap it – then harmony will become your natural state.
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