September 24, 2021
For more than a year, I have been trying to find the right word to describe the mental state where a person is centered, at peace, and not disrupted. I was at an event with a mental health counselor and asked him the question and he said, "the word is homeostasis." Not bad, but not enough. Homeostasis means:
"the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes."
Homeostasis works but doesn't fully convey what I'm trying to describe. I'm not looking for a relatively stable equilibrium. I'm looking for a state of non-disruption, calmness, and peace.
Yesterday, it occurred to me that the better word for what I am trying to describe is the Hebrew word, "shalom." The common English translation of the word shalom is "peace."  But the meaning is even wider and deeper than that. It indicates a deeper level of peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, and overall well-being and tranquility. It is fulfillment of mind, spirit, and heart.This sense of wholeness, and completeness, comes from the sense of making whole--of transformation and restoration. It is restoring the broken pieces.
I suggest that we make relationship decisions and strive to resolve problems only when we are in a state of shalom. At a more basic level, it is important to notice when we are in the state of shalom and when we are not. Shalom should be our normal way of being. When we are not in that state, we feel anxiety and disruption. We feel "off." When we feel those feelings, it is important to note and name them, but not necessarily to drill down on them. Rather, seeking a return to shalom means observing those disrupted feelings and watching them pass by like floating storm clouds.
What disrupts our shalom? Angst over things we cannot control, fear, a sense that things are not as they ought to be, or a loss of emotional equilibrium. It could also be anything that puts you into fight or flight. Trauma is an opponent to shalom.
As you strive to develop as a person, recognize that not all of your thoughts and feelings are telling you the truth. Realize that you are susceptible to being deceived by your own feelings when you are not in a state of shalom. Disruption and anxiety steal our happiness, distort our perspective, and damage our relationships. Those things disrupt everybody from time to time. That is part of the human condition. It is one of the reasons, "the natural man is an enemy to God." (Mosiah 3:19.) The trick is not necessarily to defeat these emotions. It is to see them for what they are and talk back to them accordingly. It is allowing them to pass by and not linger. It is calmly seeking a return of your shalom. It is focusing on what we want, rather than what we don't want.
Take note of this. I think I'm going to use the word shalom a lot more.
Shalom, my friends.
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