Making peace

The peace we seek is found within. It's an innate resource that springs up in us from our practice of kind connection. We all have it. We all have stuff in the way.

Sometimes, our world turns upside down.

Sometimes, it's a personal turn-- a cartwheel on the grass, but not as immediately fun-- and sometimes it includes everyone we know. Those big turnings can challenge our relationship with gravity for a while.

We seem to be in that sort of cycle now. Over the last couple of years, we've all been flipping together. Not always in sync, but together nonetheless. It seems the somersaulting may continue for some time yet.

The solution-oriented among us will be wondering: how do we find relief? We want to create some viable change so we can stop feeling so topsy turvy. We want to restore gravity.

Alas. The world will do its thing because the world is a composite of us all. It's complicated. It has so many players. You may have noticed how unlikely it is that any single person will change in precisely the way you'd like. Imagine trying to change the behavior of 7 billion humans.

Now, imagine changing your own behavior toward the peace you seek.

Take a breath with me and feel the sweet potential of this: imagine each of us changing our behavior toward peace.

We all have the means to soothe our suffering. Fortunately, it's within our power to do it. Importantly, when we do, we can better help others to do the same.

So, in the face of all this turmoil, let's choose a wise course: let's mindfully walk our path.

When we walk responsibly on our own path, we feel compassion and connection for all of our friends and neighbors who are walking their own. We all have our pain. We also have our ability to find relief. When we do, we can be more present to one another. We can connect and share our peace so others will be inspired to find theirs.

So how do we bring comfort to an upside-down world?

We establish ourselves in peace.

By the way we live our daily life we contribute to peace or to war.  
- Thich Nhat Hanh

The peace we seek is found within. It's an innate resource that springs up in us from our practice of kind connection. We all have it. We all have stuff in the way.

How do we access this resource?

In the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, we're reminded that peace of mind follows our choice to offer friendliness toward those who are happy, compassion toward those who suffer, celebration of those who are virtuous, and forgiveness toward those who are not.

What a great set of directions. Of course, we may need to brush up on our skills of friendliness, compassion, celebration and forgiveness. It's best we practice first on ourselves.

Where do we start?

First, we pay attention. We look toward ourselves, kindly, and assess, honestly, whether we are peaceful allies or occasional combatants with ourselves. We can observe our habits of friendly self-understanding. We can look to the ways we celebrate our achievements or the ways we don't. Do we forgive our mistakes or do we refuse to accept them?

We can ask these questions: How do we treat ourselves? Are we kind to our bodies and minds? Are we accepting of our emotions and willing to patiently be with them, even when they're strong or overwhelming or painful? Do we sit quietly to understand what they want us to learn? Do we honor the breath that finds its way to us, connecting us to every other living creature? Are we grateful for these precious lives?

It's okay if we find out that we aren't entirely peaceful. It's honest and it's essential that we recognize it. We aren't alone.

If we aren't peaceful with ourselves, we will not be skillful stewards of peace. Most of us aren't peaceful with ourselves all the time. Many of us haven't even considered the possibility.

No problem. What an important discovery.

With humility, we arrive in this perfect moment. With awareness, we can employ our resource of choice.

We choose to become more peaceful.

We can say kind and friendly words to ourselves. We can accept our errors, apologize, and choose to learn from them. We can say thank you to ourselves at the end of every day for each small act of understanding we shared with others. We can recognize the presence of painful emotions and listen to them as they move through us. We can also learn how to soften for them so they move through us more easily.

It may be helpful to enlist the support of a guide or a friend as we work through these practices. Our kindness strengthens when we feel the loving support of someone who is also working toward her peace.

We may also start to wonder... am I peaceful in the ways I perceive my family and friends? Often, we may judge our loved ones without remembering that they are walking on their own special path. They've experienced pain, like we have. And their pain may make them feel less peaceful, just like us. It is very hard to understand the hurt of our friends if we're unwilling to have experienced our own. It is very hard to forgive our family's mistakes if we haven't learned how to forgive our own.

We share this common ground. We also share the potential to navigate it with compassion and the peace that follows.

It may not be an easy task. It doesn't happen without our decision and our practice. It will require great energy to stop ourselves from saying unkind things to ourselves, about ourselves, and about others. We will make our mistakes again and again. Each time we do, we can be grateful to catch the mistake and choose to try again.

In this practice of making peace, it's essential to recall our strength. We are stronger than we think. We are also meant to be in peace. This means it's time to apply our wonderful, resilient strength toward peace.

The Yoga Sutra says, as we establish ourselves in peace, the world around us becomes peaceful.

Shall we walk this common ground together?

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