The search for rest can be very intense. And there are many solutions, but they're often not too effective - and always temporary. However, there is one solution that works. And once you find it, you're home.
Everyone is searching for something. You. Me. Your neighbor. The bus driver. That ever-smiling celebrity. People search in different ways, but they all have the same goal: getting rid of unrest. Even people who thrive on adrenaline, do this to get rid of unease.
Unrest comes in many forms. We experience it as pure emptiness, self-hatred, ambition, the tendency to please, an ever existing fear or chronic anger. We experience it as embarrassment, gloom or stress. Sometimes one form bothers us, but often there are several asking for our attention and making our lives complicated. Something inside of us is screaming for release. As if we're in a dark cave with thousands of panicking bats. It itches, it hurts, and the search for rest hardly ever loses intensity. Luckily, there are several solutions.
To get rid of the feeling, we try almost everything. We drink and smoke, work too hard, have trouble leaving our phones behind, have sex with people we’ve only just met. All these things are distractions, ways to shake off the ominous feeling we can’t seem to place. Sometimes we use tough stuff, sometimes we pick a solution that whispers and caresses, or we lose ourself in meditation or another spiritual activity. But always from this gnawing hunger for rest.
The problem is: all we ever do and experience, is temporary. So all these so-called solutions may have a magical effect, but it only lasts for a while. What’s more, is that they often contribute to new unrest, because we get embarrassed of our behavior and our feeling of unworthiness, and because a complete feeling of failure and disappointment keeps provoking us. Because the pain grows.
Just like so many people, I’ve been trying to find rest outside myself for years. I've looked for it in drugs and working hard, in shallow sexual relationships and buying shiny, expensive stuff I didn’t need, and also in several therapists, healers and specialists. I hoped that something that manifested itself inside of me, could be fixed for good by something external. Of course it didn’t work – not then, not now.
But there is a solution. A very simple, very pure one. And that solution is the insight that you don’t need anything, don’t have to change, and that during every time in your life, you are exactly the person you need to be. It’s waking up from a humid dream that always got you sleepwalking from solution to solution, it’s a homecoming that’s surprisingly unspectacular – but completely liberating.
You’ll find that place by being aware of your unrest’s coming and going. Without wanting to get rid of it, but by simply experiencing it. You’ll return to it by living with genuine attention for all your confusing ideas, your fears and your doubts.
You’ll learn to live effortlessly, and to rest, by realizing that everything you ever thought you needed, was volatile and unreliable. And you’ll feel it by realizing you’ve always been the witness of your thoughts – but never the thoughts themselves.
You have all these –horrible and beautiful – experiences, but it’s not like you are them. You are the only thing that was always there, and you welcome everything you experience – undamaged and unprejudiced.
Being at peace with who and what you are is not difficult, it’s not an effort. You don’t have to work hard for it, don’t have to struggle for it, you don’t have to go to a foreign country for it. It doesn’t require extra knowledge, exercises or tricks. It doesn’t require accepting. It’s just that one experience that makes it crystal clear to you that whatever you thought about yourself, never had anything to do with who you really are. And it’s that moment when you step out of the fear, out of the powerlessness and the self-criticism, and you’re home.
As soon as it happens, you’ll know. And it will never really leave you again.
Text: Marnix Pauwels