Finding peace within is a wonderful, but also a difficult thing. It is easy to go looking for it in the wrong places. How happy and content are you with who and where you are right now?

As a woman with paraplegia, a neurological condition that paralyses you from your point of injury down to your toes, I understand very well how difficult it can be to be at peace with one’s circumstances. On the 31st of March this year it will be 12 years since I was injured in a car accident that introduced me to this new chapter in my life. And even though I have been to a rehabilitation hospital to learn and adapt to this new life, every day still, with all the inaccessible architecture and landscapes, discriminatory facets of life and societal ignorance all around us, it is still a huge challenge to make do with the resources at hand.

We still find beggars with disabilities on our streets with little hope for the future. So how do we reach inner core peace when we’re still denied a privilege to the very same benefits that we rightfully need and deserve to elevate us to the next level of our lives, success or career?

Our culture, grounded in experimental science and the western romantic tradition, sees material wealth and/or the perfect lover as the keys to happiness. That’s why so many relationships disintegrate over monetary arguments, or the accusation “You stopped making me happy.” Again, all ancient wisdom traditions teach that no external person, place, or thing can “make” us happy. They recommend various methods for rediscovering the Core of Peace: meditation, introspection, renunciation of shallow attachments, the exercise of focused kindness and compassion.

I have been discovering since my injury in 2003 that every day brings with it a new opportunity to discover and rediscover who I am and more so, who I’m meant to become and how to contribute in this lifetime. And as I read soulful literature and listen to insightful discussions and teachings about life, relationships, politics and all that concerns me, I find that my injury was not just an accident, but an opportunity awaiting my willingness to showcase and celebrate God’s unfailing love towards me, as I strive to make a meaningful contribution on a personal and professional front as well as into the lives of those I encounter and interact with on a daily basis.

People see me with a smile on my face and my independent self and immediately forget that it takes a lot of inner strength to face reality daily. Not everyone who interacts with me sees the potential and abilities in my eyes. However, every day I remind myself of the journey that I have long travelled to get where I am today. And that alone, is my on-going journey into reaching that inner core peace I’m striving towards reaching.

Fortunately, below the crust of the Shallows is an aspect of consciousness I call the Core of Peace. We can reach this whether we’re rich or poor, married or single, famous or totally unknown. In fact, we’ve already reached it, because it is our essence. Sadly, most of us never realise this. We’re so obsessed with the Shallows that we lose touch with our Core and our hopeless circumstances. We experience the disconnection as an aching inner void, which we diligently try to fill with more Shallow goodies or indulge in substance abuse.

People who become skilled at such pursuits report feeling more peaceful, joyful, and connected. Neurologists are discovering that these folks may have actually increased neural connections in parts of their brains responsible for happiness. Yeah, yeah, whatever… the really cool thing about the Core of Peace is that when you go there and make magic lists, they work!

When someone is in the Shallows, you can tell that the dreams they describe just won’t fly; when you’re speaking from your Core, you feel a kind of  “click,” like a puzzle piece fitting in place, and you know you’ll see their dreams come true. It’s the same as the difference between a salesperson’s flattery and the love of a faithful dog. One feels icky, the other pure. The sense of this may come from body language, vocal tone, or the vague New Age catchphrase “energy,” but it’s real. Scientifically measurable? Not yet. Tangible? Absolutely.

Mind you, I had accrued seven years of both physical and mental training equity and countless devastating emotional breakdowns before reaching my independent stage. My hopes had burned away completely, however, my writing self has been part of my Core of Peace exercise. But why did the incredibly enlightening life experience take time to teach me the little valuable things in life that matters the most? Why did I have to go through so much emotional trauma to get to understand how big God is in my life? I have no clue. But things like that happen often, to me and those around me, when we dwell in the Core of Peace. So why doesn’t everyone go there immediately? Because of the Ring of Fire, that’s why.