A Path for Peace
“We will never have peace in the world until we have peace in
ourselves, in our families and in our communities.”
If you are connected through any online social media networks, you may notice that there is an increasingly vocal focus on the need for world peace. There is a steady call for local, national and global resistance, change and activism. It appears that this unrest is leading to widespread discontent, confrontation, and violence. But, despite all this, (perhaps) the current state of global discord, escalating environmental crises, climate change and economic and political unrest can bring about a paradigm shift in consciousness; something certainly needed.
If you are anything like me, you’ll find it’s all becoming a bit overwhelming. And, it’s easy to feel like there’s little impact any one of us can have as individuals who are not part of some sort of group or movement. I’m not the type to join a group or movement, but I want to contribute to the change that is so desperately needed. And, if you, like me, are also mindful of the spiritual side of our journey here on earth, then I believe that something quite profound is required. We, each of us, can contribute to a peaceful world by starting with our own minds and hearts.
A move toward peace begins with our willingness to have open minds. We must be willing to move past our egocentric perspectives of the world and see things from different viewpoints. Frank Zappa said, “A mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.” We open our minds by suspending, if only temporarily, our beliefs, viewpoints, (mis)conceptions, expectations, dogma and theology to allow a space to exist within which we allow other perspectives, opinions, values and beliefs to have equal validity. We create that space by surrendering our clinging to the past, and our resisting fear of the future. We do that by practicing mindful presence – learning to be: here, in the now. The only moment we actually ever have is the present moment. But, we spend most of our lives living somewhere else, certainly not in the here and now.
Try being present by simply taking three slow, deep breaths. Allow your tummy to expand on the in-breath, and contract on the out-breath. Feel how your mind and your body begin to relax, to become calm. By doing this, you are changing the chemical make-up in your brain and your body. Practicing this technique often, throughout the day helps us create space, to decompress and decrease the stress we carry. Practicing this for twenty-to-thirty minutes a day (meditation) helps to re-wire the brain (known as neuroplasticity) which provides enormous benefits, including a greater sense of inner peace.
As we develop a sense of openness and space, we become free to choose thoughts and behaviours that are less-reactionary and more responsive to life’s situations, both the good and the difficult. This leads us to act in ways that are more kind, compassionate and helpful, to ourselves and to others. We begin to see life differently: we are more grateful, understanding and wise. Our needs begin to dissolve into a greater sense of oneness with all that exists around us. We see ourselves in others, and others in ourselves. We begin to live life in a way that is heart-centred, not ego-centred.
As a result, we develop patience where we were short-tempered, gentle where we were unkind; soft where we were once hardened by past slights and the misdeeds of others. We are generous when others are self-centred and self-focused; kinder when others are cruel; and, calmer when the world around us seems chaotic and out of control. Living from our heart-centre allows us to be agents of good, for change; for healing and peace.
We develop the ability to live predominantly from the heart by being present and by taking the time to honestly look inward; to expose the dark shadows within ourselves that need to be illuminated. We also look inward to appreciate and be grateful for the wonder that we ‘are’: to see the miracle that is life on this tiny planet in a vast cosmos of galaxies. We begin to see the good in others and in ourselves. And, as we do, we need to find our grounding in mindful presence by seeing and embracing our higher selves.
LIVING OUT TRUE ESSENCE
Our very essence, who we really are, is peace. Deep stillness, spaciousness, and equanimity are always already present. This is not something we obtain, or force to come into existence or try to grasp, develop or hold on to. It just is. When we allow our minds and hearts to be open, when we surrender to ‘what is’, we allow our true selves to step forward: to be the presence in each moment of each day. The Buddha taught that we all have Buddha-nature, that this is who we truly are – purity, innocence, peace, joy and love.
For eons, humans have been searching for and trying to describe our true essence. This sense of belonging to and coming out of something greater than ourselves, a oneness with the sacred, are kernels of all great philosophies, religions, and movements through time. When we allow ourselves to simply be open to our true nature, to look deep within, we find a vast openness: a no-thing-ness that is everything. And that is who we are.
Imagine how different the world would be if each of us began to practice a path for peace.
Breathing in, I open my mind to the present moment
Breathing out, I feel my body here, now
Breathing in, I open my heart to the vast spaciousness that exists
Breathing out, I acknowledge that deep stillness is always, already present
Breathing in, I am open to my true essence: stillness, joy and love
Breathing out, I commit to practicing peace
Edited by Jeff Potts,
Author Bio -A devoted meditator, Paul believes in the integration of mind, body and spirit as necessary for healing and bringing about physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness. Through meditation, he believes anyone can develop the ability to be heart-centred and live in gratitude, joy and peace, despite past or current trauma and life struggles.