Serene Minus the Serenity

I’ve always believed that enlightenment means being serene in the face of everything.

A financial loss won’t throw me. Tired mornings won’t throw me. A lover leaving won’t throw me.

All these things I will smilingly accept once I find the secret to feeling ever-serene.

The desire to reach this point leads me to be quite hard on myself. It’s like having a drill sergeant in my mind, but his arms and legs are tied up, so all he can do is holler and protest instead of actually lead me to take action.

When I reflect on the things I berate myself about, they usually don’t deserve it. For example:

Sleeping more than eight hours=“What’s wrong with you meggan—you usually sleep seven—why aren’t you at optimal energy?”)

Housekeeping (cleaning, catching up on emails, etc.) instead of professional work.

Lacking regular income despite arranging this time specifically to be without income.

Spending quality time with loved ones when I’ve finished work for the day=“You don’t have time for quality time until your book is finished!”

The funny thing is that I then get upset with myself for getting upset with myself—for not being more enlightened and serene about it all. A serene person knows that everything will work out fine. A serene person doesn’t criticize herself.

There is a part of me that is this serene person. But there’s a disconnect between that and the part of me that likes to pull rules out of the air and then tell myself I’ve broken them.

My deep philosophy doesn’t align with my surface-level thinking.

serene shot of a pond

Maybe it’s not about “becoming” a serene person, but feeling serene in the absence of serenity. Loving the thoughts that berate, but not listening. Embracing their existence and inviting them to do so in perpetuity.

One of my favorite meditation techniques is to treat distracting thoughts as “corks bobbing in the ocean.” They pop up, then drift away. This can be done outside of meditation, too (d’oh!).

The first line of the serenity prayer asks,

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The semantics don’t imply that acceptance leads to serenity. The implication is serenity first, and acceptance follows.

The word order is important.

I don’t expect myself to be Buddha, but I do want serenity. Maybe all it takes is redefining what that means.



I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m currently traveling a lot, so given the unsteady footing, serenity keeps coming to mind.

Life is more and less easy when lived with someone, and after so much time alone, it’s been a beloved struggle to now share so much time with another person.

Anyway, leave a comment below or sign up to stay in touch.

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