Keeping Inner Peace
A Dream of Peace
Recently, I dreamed that I was walking with a group of people with the President toward a meeting with the enemy. The President had a new, special power. He could say just one word, and it would become true, no matter what. I was wondering what word he should say. I realized that of course, he should say “Peace.” Then I noticed that I was not feeling peaceful. So I consciously focused on shifting into peacefulness. I felt shifts in my body/energy into a condition of peacefulness.
“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited
you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh
Falling Out of Peace
I woke up still feeling this, and resolved to stay in this lovely, peaceful place. The next thing you know, I was irritated at my jacket zipper for not co-operating promptly. Sigh. So I took a moment to breathe and relax back into peacefulness.
Later, I noticed my old inner judge-voice making sharp, self-critical comments. Ouch! I was surprised by their meanness. Being in a peaceful state allowed me to notice these comments more clearly than ever. And to see that they are not true, and not from my essence, but from a part of my brain that thinks being safe means being small and scared. Again, I took a moment to breathe, to let go of that scared, critical energy, and to relax back into peacefulness.
Throughout the day, I went through this many times. The least little thing that didn’t co-operate with my expectations, and I frowned, tensed up, or got irritated. But as soon as I caught myself, I could shake it off, and return to inner peace. Animal researchers have found that is what our wise brothers and sisters (the animals) do when they experience a shock: literally shake it off, and go on. I found that giving myself a little shake and breathing out strongly does help release irritation, frustration, tension, even anger or fear.
Returning to Peace
Of course, that means I need to stay aware of what I’m doing with my body and energy, and notice when I shift out of peacefulness. In particular, I find it important to pay attention to my breath and my face. Am I holding my breath? Am I frowning? Is my jaw tight?
I used to think that I should just do the inner work, and the body would follow along. But it turns out to be a two-way street: when I take a deep breath, and relax the muscles around my eyes and in my jaw, my inner experience shifts toward peacefulness. It also helps when I let myself have a “little Buddha smile,” as Thic Nhat Hahn advises.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh
- What tends to knock you out of peacefulness?
- What helps you keep inner peace?
- What happens when you let yourself have a “little Buddha smile” (even though you may not feel happy)?
(All art and writing (except quotes) © by Rahima Warren)