Sunday, April 22, 2012

Virgin Charlie Challenge Week #7- Recap- Finding Inner Peace While Running on a Treadmill

My teacher once told me that a healthy body makes a healthy mind- if the body is in good shape, so the mind will be.

I thought, perhaps going to the gym would somehow moderate the intensity of my daily cynical cantankerous mood (that’s my way of saying ‘I’m usually in the mood of hating the whole world in the most unreasonable and unexplainable way all the time’). I was really eager to find ‘inner peace’ and get a grip for once, especially in times like this. 

And so here I am, with the treadmill machine inclined to 3% and running at 8.5 km per hour, aiming to burn fats and having all these thoughts of finding inner peace. Going to the gym is perhaps one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. Doing work-outs for hours and pumping iron (believe it or not, I pump iron) are said to produce endorphins which are natural substances that put you in a good and giddy mood.

In my pursuit of inner peace, I didn’t just settle on endorphin-producing work-out routines. I also participated in tai chi classes. Tai chi is one of the many forms of Chinese martial arts which is said to be beneficially stimulating to the mind and the body. 

With exercises and workouts on my left and tai chi classes on my right, it seemed that I got the perfect formula of having the nerve to tolerate aggravating anomalous individuals and the capacity to handle emotionally-distressing tricks of fate which we call bad times. I thought I was all right and have finally reached the place of inner peace.


One morning, after doing my work-out routine of the day, I read an article in La Repubblica. It is the story about how a middle-class family lost everything and was buried with debts in this time of crisis. The father had to go to Caritas, something that they thought only the poor would do. They never imagined that they would come to this point. They lost all their savings, and even their jobs. Their eldest son who was also helping in paying up all expenses was jobless since December. Things got even more complicated when they had to sell their small house. They dread the day when they have to go to the streets to beg for alms.

My first reaction was not pity. It was rage, hatred in its purest form. I was enraged at how things are going in this country, how the rich are so blithely ignorant of their social and economic role in times like this and indifferent to the sufferings of those who are under them. I loathed the way political leaders handle the situation. I abhor those so-called leaders who would impose heavy taxes on the common people but are not willing to relinquish at least 20 percent of their 11,300 euro monthly salary so that there will be enough funds to help the people. And instead of distributing the wealth and creating opportunities, the rich and powerful are either benefiting from our suffering or stealing our money from the coffers. I confess that I cherished at the thought of ripping apart Mario Monti, Berlusconi and George Bush with my bare hands, in the bloodiest and cold-blooded way possible. And in my heart, I swore that I will never apologise for such mortal and vicious thought and action.

I lost all inner peace. Such a simple story messed up everything in me. Exercises and tai chi proved to be useless. That fragile inner peace I slowly and painstakingly achieved was shattered into pieces by a simple sad story like that. I thought, that could be our family too. All of sudden, fear got his grip in my heart. And you know what Yoda used to say in Star Wars, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yes, the possibility of becoming like this family scared me.

As I read the article further, the journalist asked the mother, “How do you manage to go on? How can you still smile despite your situation.”. She calmly said with a smile, “Providence. When I see that we’re about to run out of money in our wallets, someone would call us to offer help, or someone would come knocking on our door to bring us food. When we are in need to pay the bills, all of sudden someone would call my husband offering him a job to fix a computer. Providence never fails.”

Providence. The word hit me so hard. God’s providence.

All this time I sought for inner peace to shield me from the stress of the world and from annoying human beings. Sometimes we do forget that there’s no other formula or methods of attaining inner peace but sincere prayer and meditation of God’s Word and His promises. It’s about trusting God.

Many would argue and say this and that to save them from financial disaster. In the end, this family hit by crisis simply became more and more dependent on God.

I don’t often say this because I’m the kind of guy who sees the glass of water half-empty. But looking back, as I count my blessings, I realized the greatness of God and how faithful he has been, and how faithful he is. And whether I believe it or not, He will be faithful to me and to everyone forever. That’s how good our God is.

Like what they usually say, when you’ve got a problem or you find yourself in difficulty, you’re a candidate for a miracle, and that really means you’re about to find out how great is the love of God and you’re about to witness the glorious grace of God.

We all want inner peace. We don’t just want it, we need it. You won’t find it on the treadmill. A tai chi master won’t be able to give it to you completely. Close your eyes, whisper a prayer, keep your faith, and in your heart believe. Then you’ll find out something better than inner peace. When true inner peace resides in you, you are not easily moved by the troubles of this world or the most painful insults people hurl at you.

You will discover not a mystery, but the peace of God.

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