Breathing Peace

Dr. Charles Tart


Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 4, Part 9 of 18 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

Student: I wanted to say something about peace, because I did this experiment. Tom was talking about, “If you’re in a state of peace, then doesn’t life get boring?” You’re not pissed – peace.


You can go and have a piss if you want. 😉


So I did this experiment where I tried doing really slow, deep breathing all day, from when I woke up till I went to bed, and I realized from the effect of that that what it does is – it’s like your emotions affect your breathing and your breathing affects your emotions. So if you breathe with that particular breath, you feel that emotion.

I found that that breath is the breath of peace. It’s very, very slow, and very smooth, and very consistent. And it’s the breath of peace, so I moved into the state of being in peace. No matter what happened, no matter what I was doing, I felt peace. And it was amazing. It was like everything happens like a gift, and I just felt very content and very peaceful.

And then I thought, why not do this every day? And one of the thoughts that came was, well, if I do that, then I won’t really be alive, because I will just be feeling peace all the time.

But then I realized that peace is like an emotion that contains all the other emotions. So when I’m stuck in anger, I’m in anger. And when there is anger, or when I’m in sadness, I’m in sadness, and really know sadness. But peace contains anger and sadness and all the other emotions, because the effortless way to peace is acceptance of everything, including all these other emotions.

And so even though you don’t get lost in anger, or lost in sadness, or lost in jealousy, instead of peace, I can understand and fully empathize with those states, and so I can kind of act angry in an authentic way. I can be angry without being lost in anger, when I’m in a state of peace.

CTT: I think one of the things you’re illustrating also is that the word “peace” is kind of broad gauge and probably contains several different things within it, some of which are desirable and some of which are not.

So for instance, suppose you are a reckless driver. You know, you move over too fast, speed too fast, and so forth. I could make you a better driver by tinkering with your engine so most of the cylinders didn’t fire and you could only creep along at five miles an hour. You wouldn’t be anywhere near as reckless at five miles an hour. Or let the air out of your tires, or something like that. That’s a kind of peace you can get by forcing your whole system into a slow mode or a defective mode, and I think some of the tranquilizing drugs do that in a way, too. Just turn the whole system down.

But in the long run, I’d rather teach you to be a better driver than have to disable your car that way. This is a hint – the spirituality of the future will be couched in analogies about cars, for that’s where our real souls are!


Maybe motorcycles for some people! 😉

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