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Quintessential Peace
by Harold Bloomfield, M.D.

Accessing inner peace is its own reward. It also changes your relationship to the past, altering its impact on all five aspects of the Quintessential Self. As the following diagram illustrates, the core of peace inside you is the unchanging, transcendent center from which all aspects of the Quintessential Self radiate, and around which the stages of life revolve.

It is important to make one crucial distinction: The peace I’m referring to is not the listless placidity of indifference or sedated repose that comes from tranquilizers, alcohol, or drugs. It is not a sleepy peace, nor a dull, lethargic peace, nor a "can’t be bothered" peace. Rather, it is a vibrant peace marked by a serene but responsive nervous system, steady but spirited emotions, and a centered, focused, fully attentive mind. I call this state restful alertness—deep physical rest accompanied by a clear, alert mind. There are almost infinite gradations of restful alertness, ranging from ordinary relaxation to the exalted state of illumined serenity described by the world’s spiritual and religious traditions. The deeper you penetrate the core of perfect peace and pure awareness within you, the more clearly you think, the more accurately you perceive, and the more balanced you feel emotionally—and the more you are freed of the negative impact of the past.

On the level of the physical self, deep peace helps to alleviate the deadly impact of past trauma, pain, and distress. A huge body of research indicates that emotional and psychological stress has profound long-term consequences on the body, eroding the very foundation of health. That is why children who suffer abuse are more likely to develop life-threatening illnesses as adults, and why men and women who undergo prolonged distress are more susceptible to disease and shortened lifespans. Deep relaxation can help undo the damage of past stress and build a stable foundation to fend off subsequent blows when the repetition compulsion stirs things up again.

Deep peace also creates a refuge for the emotional self. The pain of the past may have eroded your trust in life and in other people, causing you to be guarded, like someone with an open wound who’s afraid to bump into the furniture. With peaceful presence you feel more secure, more open, more confident. Old emotional wounds lose some of their sting, and painful memories are less likely to overwhelm you when they arise. Inner peace also serves as a protective shield. Preserving your emotional integrity when issues from the past resurface in the present.

Quintessential peace creates a core of silence for the mental self. If, like Beth, you have a tendency to ruminate or obsess about the past, the ability to steady your mind is an invaluable asset. Like slowing down a film or freezing the frame, steady mental clarity enables you to evaluate complex situations more accurately and discern the truth with greater reliability. It shifts you to a higher mental vantage point, expanding your frame of reference.

Things start to make more sense from that perspective. You see what really is, not what you fear and not what you’ve been conditioned to expect. When viewed from a place of contentment and ease instead of tension and turbulence, the past takes on a new meaning—not necessarily a rosier one, although that may be the case, but certainly a clearer and more balanced one. Restful alertness enables you to find deeper meaning in the incidents of the past, no matter how painful they were, and to see them with more of the informed detachment of a biographer.

In addition, a restfully alert mind makes for easier access to the intuition of inner wisdom. When you dwell in the reservoir of peace at the core of your being, insights arise more clearly and dependably, feeding you fresh answers to nagging questions. At its deepest level, quintessential peace puts you in touch with the universal creative intelligence that directs the flow of atoms and galaxies and nerve cells alike. "We live in a lap of an immense intelligence," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity. Whenever a mind is simple, and receives a divine wisdom, old things pass away—means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour."

Deep peace also alters the relational self’s link to the past. Past conflicts lose their ability to keep on causing pain when their memory—or their repetition in the present—is received by a calm, centered nervous system. You also become less susceptible to the way others have defined you in the past and less constrained by the roles you were forced to play. By bringing contentment in the present, quintessential peace reduces the tendency to compare yourself to others and base your self-perception on where you stand on various social ladders.

With repeated dips into the well of deep peace, the identity you derived through pain and suffering further loses its grip. Like the "back story" in drama, the past is what happened before the curtain went up. It has explanatory value, but it is not what’s onstage in the present. The false self, the masks, and the predictable behavior patterns I call "rolebots" come to be seen for what they are—only one of an infinite number of possibilities for what you can be.

Having a stable interior enables you to rectify old rifts between you and others with greater skill. And because the core of peace within you is also the place where the spark of divine love resides, regular contact with it brings a higher level of compassion, appreciation, and generosity to damaged relationships. When you connect to the common source that binds us to one another, said the Chinese sage Lao-Tzu, you become "kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king."


Joy is more than the absence of depression. It is the natural product of a peaceful, vibrant physiology. Knowing this, some of the world’s great healing traditions have developed sophisticated plant-based formulas to gently reverse and repair the damage of the past and restore balance to the system.

In this context, the Ayurvedic tradition of India stands out because its core purpose is to cultivate quintessential peace and higher consciousness. The Ayurvedic products I am most familiar with were developed by Maharishi Ayur-Ved Products International (MAPI). Numerous published scientific studies indicate that MAPI’s herbal formulas produce a broad range of health benefits, including some with implications for cancer and heart disease. I have gotten excellent results with the formula Amrit Kalash (Sanskrit for "golden cup of immortality"), especially with clients who have accumulated chronic stress due to a painful past. A precise combination of 44 herbs for enhancing overall health, happiness, and longevity, Amrit Kalash has been shown in several research studies to have up to a thousand times more antioxidant power than vitamins C and E. Antioxidants help to reduce the damage caused by free radicals, the highly reactive molecular fragments that are a primary cause of cancer, heart disease, and other lie-threatening illnesses. I also recommend two other products, Worry Free and Blissful Joy, which can further develop the nervous system’s natural capacity for harmony, balance, and peace.

For information about MAPI products, call (800) 255-8332 or visit www.mapi.com.

© Harold Bloomfield, M.D.  Excerpted from "Making Peace with Your Past" HarperCollins.  2000. 

As a leading psychological educator, Harold Bloomfield, M.D. has been deeply involved with many important health and human development movements worldwide and a champion of emotional literacy. He has written seventeen books which have sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into twenty-six languages.

Dr. Bloomfield’s bestsellers, Making Peace with Your Parents and Making Peace with Yourself, introduced personal and family peacemaking to millions of people. How to Survive the Loss of a Love and How to Heal Depression have become self-help classics. TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress spent six month on the New York Times bestseller list. His most recent New York Times bestseller, Hypericum (St. John’s Wort) & Depression, and his Healing Anxiety Naturally, were catalysts in the herbal medicine revolution.

Dr. Bloomfield has appeared on national television shows including 20/20, Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America and CNN. His work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, People, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Prevention, Ladies Home Journal, New Woman, American Health, First for Women, New Age Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Examiner, the Boston Globe, and many other magazines and newspapers.

The recipient of the 1999 Theodore Geisel “Best of the Best” Book Award, Dr. Bloomfield has also been honored with the Medical Self-Care magazine Book of the Year Award, the Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Psychological-Educator, and the American Holistic Health Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an adjunct professor of psychology at Union Graduate School and a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the San Diego Psychiatric Society. Dr. Bloomfield maintains a private practice of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and executive coaching in Del Mar, California.




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