I've long believed that we are the wellsprings of our own limitless peace—that it lives inside us. I believed this so strongly that I wrote a book intended to help people reconnect to this inner reality, or to discover it for the first time. To many of us, permanent peace may sound like an increasingly unattainable goal. But it is possible. I know because my own experience of inner peace was tested in the last year.
The year 2016 started with a bang—my book launched in the United Kingdom, leaping to the fourth position on Amazon and even hitting the London Sunday Times best-sellers list. My partner and I were also buzzing with excitement after having bought a wreck of a house (a lovable fixer-upper) in the South of France to renovate.
And then, my darling mother suddenly collapsed at home. Soon after, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The effervescence of early 2016 was replaced with a dragging sense of sadness and dread.
The philosophy of my newly published book was being tested in real time, in the most personal and excruciatingly painful way. Could I manage the extreme highs and lows of my unfolding year and stay connected to the peace of my inner self? I decided to read my own book again as a touchstone of reality to help me through this challenging time. These are the things that helped me most:
1. The Pendulum
I'd developed a unique tool for understanding the chaotic nature of thoughts and feelings, which I called "The Pendulum." Imagine yourself sitting on the weight at the bottom end of a pendulum, swinging wildly from joy on the right to despair on the left. Sometimes you attain rest when the pendulum pauses in the middle, but you're always vulnerable to outside forces; at any moment, a gust of wind can shake you into volatility.
The secret to protecting yourself and your peace is to envision yourself climbing up the pendulum. With every step, the swings are gentler. Finally, at the top, you can see all the outside forces that threaten your well-being, but you remain protected, calm, still.
The work of the pendulum is about changing your perspective. Once you've mastered that mental change, you'll move on to the world of body. You need to reconnect to your physical self.
2. Five-Element philosophy
The ancient teachings of Five-Element philosophy help us understand how our physical world is created and maintained. It offers wisdom about the natural rhythms that govern our life as experienced in the body's clock. That wisdom can transform the way we interact with our environment.
Rather than seeing yourself as a human being running around in nature, you'll see yourself as a part of the wheel of nature. How you behave throughout the day needs to be in sync with your body's natural rhythms—when you sleep, eat, work, socialize, and relax. Everything You Need You Have teaches you how to stop ignoring your body's clock.
3. Practical Magic
Finally, the book prepares you to enter the world of Home. In the final section of the book, you'll put what you learned into practice so that you can transcend the limitations of the physical and mental world and return to a state of pure consciousness. Life is tough for all of us, and we never know what's around the next corner. Good things and bad things are the balance of life. The more firmly we're anchored in ourselves, the more we can appreciate the beauty and balance of the good and the bad.
This year tested the philosophy of Everything You Need You Have in ways I never expected, and I've emerged more confident than ever in its truth. If life is testing you, know that your experiences and challenges do not change who you truly are. No matter the negativity the world may throw at you in the coming year, you can find your home and safety and peace in yourself.