November 11, 2016

A Practice for Peace when we Feel anything but Peaceful.

knitting, yarn, tangled

Sometimes negative circumstances arise that make it difficult for us to be loving, peaceful people. 

Our peace can be disturbed by political or social unrest, world events or even personal upheaval. While it’s easy to say that we should be calm and centered regardless of what’s going on in the world around us, it is difficult to practice in reality. But the key word here is practice.

Peace is a practice.

It’s not something that just comes easily to us or even to the world we live in. Sometimes peace is hard to come by and it takes a lot of effort to maintain. Very few are enlightened enough to be able to practice non-attachment such that outside circumstances have little impact on their sense of peace. I was once told that balanced people are more easily unbalanced by the unexpected; but it doesn’t always seem that way because restoring that balance is a daily practice.

It’s not an easy practice. It’s important that we learn to practice peace even when we don’t feel peaceful. It might even be more important to practice peace during these times now more than ever. We cannot allow ourselves to simply react emotionally without considering the impact of our words or actions.

So how do we do it?

How can we practice peace when we feel angry or helpless?

1. We can practice the pause. Instead of responding immediately to someone’s actions or words, we can practice taking a moment to collect ourselves before responding. This can be as simple as putting down the phone and thinking about a text or Facebook post before hitting send. We can use this pause to take a deep breath, collect our thoughts and to consider the bigger picture.

Is it even worth responding? Will our response escalate the situation or help resolve it? Is it necessary or kind?

The pause allows time for us to consider our options before taking action or speaking. When we’re ready to continue, we can speak or act from a place of peace or with the intention of creating more peace with our response.

2. We can shift our focus. During times of great stress, it’s important that we give ourselves the opportunity to focus on something else. Even if we only take 15 minutes a day, we can give ourselves a break to read a comic or watch a funny program. We can participate in creative expression like drawing, coloring or painting. We can take a few minutes each day to shift our focus away from our stressors and on to something that will help us feel lighter.

Shifting our focus can involve meditating, practicing yoga, participating in a Laughter Yoga class or even going for a mindful walk. The important thing is that we give ourselves a break periodically to re-center. It’s difficult to find balance when we’re mired in our struggle.

3. We can get a new perspective. When we’ve had time to pause and consider and to shift our focus to other things, we can also practice changing our perspective. We can try to look at our situation or events from different angles to find some positive aspects of the situation or potential resolutions.

When engaging in conflict with others, we can often utilize our compassion to help see the other side’s point of view. When the world around us in chaos, we can do what Mr. Rogers’ mother always suggested to him and “look for the helpers.” We can choose to see the possibilities in our challenges rather than the hardships simply by changing our perspective.

4. We can surround and ground.

How do we use this as a peace practice?

We can surround ourselves with nature and with positive, supportive people. We can ground ourselves to the natural environment and to the atmosphere of love and support that we receive from those who love, value and appreciate us.

How do we do this in an average day? We can take time to go for a walk outside, weather permitting or to open a window.

We can focus on the beauty of nature and find our center there. We can ground ourselves by removing our shoes and planting our feet firmly on the ground or even practicing an indoor yoga pose such as the tree pose to feel more firmly rooted.

To surround and ground with our support system, we can take time to call, text or message our supportive family and friends. We can reach out and spend a few minutes with someone who helps us find our peace. We can ground ourselves by relying on that support and remembering it in times of stress.

Peace isn’t something that we can only have when everything in our lives is on track and going well. Peace is something that we have to work on by taking care of ourselves. When we feel angry and disturbed by events in our lives, it’s going to be more difficult to find that place of calm, but it’s no less important to do it.

Practice the pause. Shift our focus. Find new perspective. Surround and ground. These are concepts that we can work into our day to practice peace even when we don’t feel particularly peaceful. Even when we feel outrage in our hearts at injustice or when we fear for our personal safety. Even when we worry about what the future may hold or when we are disappointed by life events out of our control. Even with all of that, we can practice peace.

In fact, when we’ve done these things, we can make sure to take one last step:

5. We can practice perpetuating peace. Once we have found our center, we can take steps to share that positivity and sense of balance with others. We can reach out with a kind word or give hope to someone who is struggling. We can offer a listening ear or speak out to let others know that we stand with them. We can look for ways to be kind and ways to give of ourselves. We can spread that peace once we recover our own sense of well-being.

We can still be outraged. We can still have our fears and concerns. What’s important is that we dig deep for the peace we so desperately need and figure out how to spread it around. We practice peace, and we perpetuate it. This is how love wins.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Martinak15/Flickr

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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