We all ultimately wish for peace. The trouble is that we are taught to believe that battles need to be fought and won to earn it. But what if our steps towards peace were instead steps of studying and dismantling those battles? To do this, it is best to start with the most intimate ones we know and the ones we least want to address, the burning and entangled battles within ourselves.
What are yours? Conversely, how are you stepping toward inner peace?
My most significant battle over the years has been with my body. Because of my history with allergies, eating disorder, acne, parasitic infection, and all the repercussions from the infection, it has at times been impossible not to think of my body as having turned against me. It has indeed been stranglingly hard not to see my body as an enemy. As a result, a huge part of my work on my meditation cushion, my yoga mat, in my journal and my therapist's office, has been in uncovering peace, or a profound sense of ease and friendship within this physical body.
Here's my path to inner peace and one that I hope resonates with you:
1. Commit to truly awakening peace and to no longer being in combat with yourself. Set peace as a deep intention, not only reserved for more tranquil moments over the weekend or on holiday when it always feels easier to give yourself a break. Better to use these moments to draw on this very minute, especially if you're going through a rough patch, or basically at any chance you get.
2. Create a safe space where you can bear witness to your struggles every day. Instead of trying to ignore or numb yourself from your internal struggles, give yourself a place to get to know the struggles better, without judging them, simply through observation. Meditation cushions or yoga mats are great, but so too are a favorite bench in the park or your favorite chair. So long as you feel comfortable and secure. Keeping pen and paper close by is always handy, as expressing whatever comes up will also help encourage the calm from really understanding what is going on.
3. Be still with the peace that arises from your bravery and your willingness to look. Appreciate how peace miraculously comes -- and I promise it does -- when you are courageous and take the time to acknowledge your personal war. Trusting in and staying still long enough to allow for resounding calm to arise is the key. These moments are difficult. Taking a good honest look at your intimate fight is never easy, but wow does it help to clear the mind and funnily enough, ignite the peace you're in search of.
4. Carry this peace out into your daily life, where it is so easy to get tripped up. This is a tough one. As best you can, maintain that connection with peace even as you step into the hectic demands and turmoil of the day. Instead of dropping out of your peaceful zone and getting caught up all over again with your battle, gently remind yourself of where you just were, and how lovingly you just made room for both the battle and the peace that came from such a warm and friendly gesture.
5. Spread peace beyond your relationship with you, into your relationship with others. The beauty here is that when you tap and awaken your own peace, you quite naturally begin to radiate and offer up serenity to those with whom you interact. Your peace touches others, and has a wonderfully contagious effect.
6. Live from and for peace in the world, and continually go back to step 1. Always remember, peace is undeniably powerful, far more so than even the most epic of battles. Isn't it astounding that from your very own restful heart, world peace is attainable?
Pema Chodron says, "If we want to make peace, with ourselves and with the world at large, we have to look closely at the source of all of our wars." Hopefully the steps above will encourage you not only to look closely at your wars, but also to recognize them as opportunities ripe in unearthing the oft-disguised peace inside. We just have to be willing to not fight the fight and to not pick our battles. We just have to be willing to pick peace instead.