Nature is Ready. Are You?

In his play Henry V, William Shakespeare made the profound statement, “All things are ready if our mind be so.” In other words, the readiness we cultivate in our own minds makes all things possible.

We have been exploring here the truth that Nature is an infinitely wise and supportive mentor on the journey to inner peace. To recap, there are three keys to access Nature’s mentorship: openness, readiness, and willingness. Last week, we looked more closely at openness. Today, let’s look at readiness.

Be Ready for Anything

We exist within a perfectly balanced, multi-dimensional and loving universe. Yet we tend to continually judge it, because our egos want the moment to be other than it is. We think there is something wrong with what is. It is either too much, or too little in some way or another. We experience the universe as an unfair judge that is imposing itself on us. Feeling that life is happening to us, we judge it in turn.

However, gifted with the power of free will, we are in fact co-creative partners with the universe, and this very moment. We have the invaluable ability to choose how we perceive and respond to all that arises. With this open outlook, we have the opportunity to recognize our misperception. We can let go of imposing our agenda on the moment and receive instead what is with a sense of freshness. When we do so, we readily meet what is. In that state of readiness, we find immense heart and possibility. A whole new world opens up with ease and flow, where before we thought it impossible.

Welcome the Moment as Your Long-Lost Friend

Readiness is based on a fundamental understanding that life supports our deepest joy. Just as we would enthusiastically welcome our long-lost friend over for a get-together visit, we can meet the moment with the same preparedness and receptivity. We would not question the love that is present in our reunion with our long-lost friend. We would not impose ideas of how she should be. We would not resist her in judgement. We would be in wonder at her return to our life, and want to know all about how she has been.

Each moment is like the return of our long-lost friend, a visit from the compassionate universe itself. It returns to us to remind us of our interconnection with it. It mirrors the breadth of who we are, the power of our choices and our ability to create magnificence.

The state of the Arctic Ocean came knocking at my door like a long-lost friend who was haggard, road-weary and in deep need of love. I was ready to meet its call to serve it back to health. The moment may not always bring easy news, but it will always be perfectly packaged in such a way as to give us an opportunity to open our hearts more deeply and love more fully. Our state of readiness gives us maximum ability to meet the now with all it brings.

Choose Readiness

Between now and next week, please consider the following:

  • Am I ready to welcome this moment as my long-lost friend?
  • What am I resisting in this moment, and how come?
  • What do I feel I get as a payoff for my resistance? Is it truly worth it?
  • What would my life look like if I let go of resistance?
  • What would happen if I chose readiness instead?

If you have been following along for the past few weeks, continue to work with the hourly mindfulness chimes you have created in your schedule to pause, breathe, and practice peace. I use them every hour on the hour throughout the day and love them! Take a moment to settle into the experience of openness and readiness. See if you begin to notice changes in how you relate to the world around you.

From my heart to yours,

The Powerful Gift of Openness to Help You Access Nature’s Wisdom

Last week, we introduced your greatest mentor in finding inner peace: Nature. To refresh your memory: since Nature is the great balance keeper, it deeply understands peace, which is your own true nature. Tapping into its wisdom can radically transform your life for the better. And there are three keys that help you do so: openness, readiness and willingness.

Today, we’re going to take a more in-depth look at the power of openness and what it means in your journey to inner peace.

Openness Helps You Get Unstuck

Many of us are prone to seeing life as “happening to me”, as though somehow the moment or the universe itself were against us. There is a passive power you get in complaining, feeling hard done by and victimize. But this kind of power can never be fulfilling. Since we are all connected, and our every thought has a ripple effect, there is no such thing as something happening “to” you. You are always a part of what is. Nature cannot support disconnected thoughts, or it would be supporting your ego, which thwarts the flow of evolution. Openness helps you remember this and get unstuck. This present moment could be the sweetest moment yet, if you open.

But here is the catch… you cannot open when you are attached to ideas of how life should be. When you hang on to feelings of “would have, could have, should have”, you miss out on the gift of the here and now.

Make Room for Possibility

To discover a state of receptivity, take a moment for a few deep breaths. In that pause, you find space. In that space is possibility. This experience is essential, because in possibility comes the first awakening to another way. This means that you can begin to witness the real options available to you in the moment.
Change arises from a place of presence. When you are willing to open to the moment as it is, you discover the richness of life, where change is taking place. In every moment, you can find Nature’s wisdom to guide you along your next evolutionary step.

Reclaim Your Power

This week, whenever you notice feelings of “life is happening to me” as though you are a powerless victim, practice pausing and finding the space of possibility. Keep using the meditation timer I suggested last week.
I also invite you to consider these questions:
• In which ways am I open to possibility?
• In which ways am I closed to them?
• What might happen if I were to practice openness?
• How would my life change? How would that affect others?

From my heart to yours,

You Have an Amazingly Powerful Mentor Just Waiting for You. Here’s How to Connect With It

Over the past few weeks, we have been taking a look at some of our pesky tendencies, the misconceptions and intense emotions that keep us from choosing peace. They limit our effectiveness in the ways we choose to serve. But the wonderful truth for anyone dedicated to conservation is that we can receive immense wisdom from the very thing we seek to protect: Nature. The force of Nature runs through every cell in your being. It is infinitely potent. When you align with your true nature, beyond all thoughts of status quo or your small self, you tap into tremendous capability, creativity and service. You can thrive and experience all the support you need when you live in harmony with it. This month, let’s explore three powerful keys to accessing its guidance.

Your Mentor for Inner Peace

Nature is the great balance keeper of the universe. It is free from our restless wanting and conflict. Nature’s unconditional love carries us in every moment, showing us another way to live. When we live in harmony with it, we can experience the power of peace. The more we choose to connect with this knowing, the more we ease our own inner conflict and the more, in turn, we ease the suffering in Nature.

Receiving Guidance From Your Mentor

Though we often define nature as plants and animals, I have come to understand Nature as the intelligence underlying everything that has form—from fireflies to skyscrapers to your very own body. It is within you, just as your inner peace sanctuary is, waiting to be discovered and embraced. You access it anywhere, with three powerful keys that you can use in every moment of every day: openness, readiness, and willingness.

Being open, ready and willing is essential in breaking out of the habits that keep you blocked from Nature’s wisdom. The quote about the courage to change by the French author Anaïs Nin speaks to this: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” When the pain of living without inner peace becomes so great that it outweighs your attachments to the way things are, the desire is born within you to live another way. Openness, readiness, and willingness unlock the door through which you can step and flower into peace.

Opening the Door to Nature’s Wisdom

As we prepare to explore each of these three keys more deeply in the weeks to come, please deeply consider the following:

• Do I feel my life would benefit from a mentor in finding inner peace?
• How do I feel about the idea that I can access that mentor for myself in Nature?
• Have I ever experienced Nature’s guidance in the past? What did that look like?
• Do I feel open, ready and willing to experience its wisdom now? How come?
• What do I need to do today so that my life is guided by it more often, even always?
• What does openness mean to me?
• What does readiness mean to me?
• What does willingness mean to me?

Continue to practice peacefulness through each day. Set a mindfulness chime to ring once every hour on the hour to remind you to practice peace. We do not need to practice finding inner peace only when we feel agitated. It has been medically proven that practicing peacefulness when you are not under extreme stress builds a strong foundation to which you can return when life becomes challenging.

When your mindfulness chime rings on the hour, pause what you are doing. Move away from your desk or task at hand. Take a few deep breaths and return to the simplicity and power of presence. Feel yourself breathing and enjoy the breaths. Let your whole body relax. Then say to yourself quietly or aloud, I am open. I am ready. I am willing to be in harmony with Nature. I am. I am. I am.

From my heart to yours,

Feeling Resentful at the State of the World? Here’s the Way Back to Inner Peace

Last week, we were looking at the problem of undertow and how dangerous it can be to slip into despair about the state of the world. But there is another feeling that can sabotage you in working for inner and outer peace, one that not everyone likes to admit. This feeling is resentment. It could come cloaked in a feeling of self-righteousness, focused on how wrong someone “over there” is and how unfair it is that you “have to” deal with it. This feeling can even give you a bit of a charge as you join protests or rallies and raise your voice to call for change. But because resentment is based in unrest and divisiveness, it cannot bring the change or peace you deeply seek.

How do you really feel?

When you look at today’s world with its pollution, poverty, starvation, vanishing glaciers, clear-cut forests and bleaching coral reefs, how do you feel? Deep sadness? Numbness? Or maybe even resentment? How do you feel about the idea of finding inner peace when all this is happening? Go deep. Be honest.

It is very easy to slip into something like “Why should I have to find peace amidst all this, when the previous generation (or big business, or political leaders, et cetera) is responsible for these problems?” Feeling this way does not make us bad people. It is just a tendency. But if we wish to cultivate inner peace and support peace in the world, we need to face this feeling so that we may ultimately release it.

Two sides to every story

There are two sides to every story, as well as that which is really going on. Pointing fingers makes us feel temporarily powerful, as though we are on the “right” side of the fence. But we could become so busy wanting to be right that we forget we all have the same potential for ignorance and greed that block inner and outer peace.

Resentment is one way that our divisive ego-mind keeps us focused on the problem, rather than on solutions. We suffer and lose our peace when we think resentful thoughts. Remembering our interconnection is what frees us from the tyranny of our ego’s need to create separateness.

Letting go of the need to be right

The truth is, we all err in some way. We all need to make amends with ourselves, with our families, with our brothers and our neighbours. We all can learn to love better, in each moment, of every day, until we have realized that our true nature is neither right nor wrong – only love. What if you went there, now?

Being part of the solution

Life is not happening “to” us. We have free will. Because we are essential parts of a vast whole, what we each think, feel and do is continually reflected back to us. What exists today on our planet is a reflection of who we are as a species at this time. There is no one to blame. There is only the choice of what we do with this moment. Are we going to be part of the solution, or part of the problem?

We are all equally responsible to switch on and serve. Whether or not someone else chooses that does not change our own responsibility. Inner peace never depends on the actions of another person, but on our own.

Between now and next week, ask yourself these questions with as much presence and compassion as you can:

  • Do I have a tendency to resent or judge myself or others for the state of the world?
  • Do I have a tendency to feel like a victim?
  • Am I willing to let go of finger-pointing and take responsibility for my own inner peace?
  • What simple, self-compassionate action can I do today that would help my life feel more fulfilled?
  • What simple, compassionate action can I do today to ease suffering in another’s life?

From my heart to yours,

Remember These Points, And You Can Keep Anger and Despair from Dragging Your Activism Down Into Undertow

One of the challenges we can all face in our work to support a peaceful, healthy world is the potential to feel anything but peaceful when we meet obstacles, opposition, or just the latest alarming news about our current global emergency. You are not alone if you struggle at times with rage or despair. Some may seek to channel this energy to fuel their action. Yet to do so cannot really bring the change our world needs, as it is like adding fuel to a raging fire that is burning our world. There is a heavy feeling in the world today, like an undertow, which we feed with our angry, despairing or disconnected states. This week, let’s explore how we can defuse the anger and soften the despair, so that we can keep showing up with our full selves, free from undertow.

The comforting truth is that the undertow we feel only has as much power as we give it. That is because it is fed and sustained by our ego, which continually seeks to separate and divide us from life. When we feel against – be it towards ourself, another, or our environment – we are in disconnected state, therefore, in our ego. Over the past few weeks, we have been looking closer at how the ego is a self-imposed illusion. As we learn to see beyond its mirage, we connect to a much greater energy source than our individual self. In doing so, we tap into profound vitality and ease, and we naturally release from the pull of undertow.

A commitment to peace is about moving beyond the sense of againstness, because any divisiveness perpetuates not only personal undertow but conflict in the world. This means learning to see the police officer who gives us a speeding ticket not as an imposition but as a blessing. It means not perceiving the barista at Starbucks who is taking what feels like “forever” as a nuisance, but as our teacher. It means that everything that happens is grace in some form – is in support of us, our growth, our evolution – even if we don’t like it. All provides an opportunity for our consciousness to expand so that we may learn to live from a place of peacefulness, and act from a place of compassion.

Understanding Anger

I love the quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

Have you ever noticed how self-righteous anger can feel satisfying, at least for a moment? Its adrenaline rush gives us an ego boost and a temporary feeling of control over our environment. The problem is, the rush does not last. Ultimately it leaves us feeling alone, afraid and sinking in undertow. Our anger has only disconnected us from ourselves, others and the world.

We find inner and outer peace when we open our hearts in compassionate understanding for our own and others’ folly. If ever I am feeling triggered with anger, judgment or blame, I come back to a simple exercise that, like many people, I was taught in junior school: “putting the shoe on the other foot.” If people were angry with me, I would wish to be handled with understanding, care and compassion. So, I strive to treat others that way.

Being Present for Despair

If you have ever felt like there’s no hope and no point, you know the gravitational pull of despair. Despair is like kryptonite on our quest for inner peace. It is an implosion into self-pity. It courts undertow, hinders our evolution and draws us into a black hole of nothingness that envelops the force of life.

When we feel despair, life has shrunk down to the size of our own self-importance, which at this time is convinced we suck and are worthless. We have lost the big picture.

Yet when despair knocks at our door, we can welcome it, just like any other emotion, without attachment, without judgment. With quiet wisdom and self-compassion, we will find a sense of internal space.
Beating yourself up only deepens your despair and strengthens the undertow. Instead, give yourself the gentleness, the love and the understanding you need, and the despair will shift like dark clouds parting to reveal the sun that was there all along.

Pay no mind to anything that feeds undertow, for the cost is too high. It is all about choice. In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at painful feelings like anger or despair. For now, I invite you to be diligent in noticing the potential to go in those directions, and consciously choosing to redirect your awareness to interconnection. Everything we think, feel and do affects the whole. We are never alone.

Coming Back to Peace

The next time you feel self-righteous anger or despair, pause. Take three deep breaths and see if you can start to feel some space around these intense emotions.

You may notice a temptation to judge yourself or beat yourself up for having these feelings. Let that go. It is just your ego doubling down and co-creating with undertow, trying to ensure you feel either too proud and self-important, or too lousy to choose peace. You do not have to listen to that voice. You are perfectly loved and worthy, just as you are, right now.

Take a few more deep breaths, and try extending compassionate understanding to yourself. That is the foundation of all true compassion expressed to others. Bringing peace into the world means finding peace within.

I completely believe in you and am cheering you on.
From my heart to yours,

This common trap in your search for inner peace could have you looking for it in all the wrong places.

In order to serve others, establish world peace and protect the environment, we need to act from a place of inner peace. Yet even when we realize we need it, we may struggle to find it. There is a common trap we fall into, that makes us look for inner peace in the wrong places. It is called wanting. It is the illusion that we can get the fulfilment we crave, while being disconnected from ourselves, the world and the moment.

I saw this quote today and it touched my heart. I thought it was perfect to share with you:

“Peace is not something that is gained when all desires are fulfilled or when all problems are settled. As long as the mind is there, desires will come up and problems will exist. Peace is something that arises when all the thoughts settle and you transcend the mind.”

It is by Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi), the Hugging Saint, who lives in a state of permanent, peaceful bliss. In these words, she shows us where we can find inner peace – beyond the wanting mind.

For the most part, we try to solve problems with the same thinking that created them. We feel unhappy, so we want things to change. But wanting is actually the source of our unhappiness. When we want what is in the now to be different than it is, we are conflict with the moment. Stress comes when we want what is “here” to be “there”, or the other way around. In so doing, we rob ourselves of peace. When we want, we suffer because we are attached to a sense of lack.

Lack Is An Illusion

Have you ever felt like you’re chasing the proverbial dangling carrot, as though the things you want are just always out of reach, no matter how hard you work, no matter how determined you may be? That is because wanting comes from a place within you that feels broken and separate from the universe.

To reconnect with peace, the first step is to understand that your feeling of brokenness or lack is an illusion. In truth, you are always connected to and a part of a loving universe. You are always loved and never alone.

Feeling Loved

If we are always loved, why don’t we feel that way? Because we are habituated into projecting ideas onto what is happening in our lives, trying to create how we want life to be. Remember how last week we looked at the ego as the creator of drama in our lives? We are all attached to some degree or another to trying to manipulate the moment to suit our ego’s needs. When we do this, we feel unhappy, because we are not in harmony with the now. The problem is not ourselves or life, but our illusory perspective fuelled by wanting.

Peace and happiness cannot be built upon mirages, no matter how hard we try. We can never succeed for long at imposing our limited ego or will upon life. A true and lasting resolve for peace comes from clarity, free from wanting, and rooted in the knowing that the universe has our back.

Let Go of Wanting and Reconnect with Peace

Maybe you feel an inner voice protesting now, saying that if you stop wanting, you will be stuck forever in an unhappy place. But actually, the opposite is true. As you let go of wanting, you step into your sense of being interconnected with the whole. From this place, you contact your deepest joy and your true power, that is connected with divine will. From here, peace flows.

Try This

Try a little experiment: see if you can notice wanting in your life. In which ways are you perceiving life as perpetual lack? In which ways do you feel you are constantly chasing that carrot?

When you notice you are in wanting, gently remind yourself that those thoughts will not lead to peace. Through they may appear real and tempting, think of them as white sugar – sweet for a moment, but made of empty calories with no lasting nourishment.

By truly understanding how wanting leads to suffering, you begin to let go of being attached to it. As you comprehend how wanting is a mirage, you will no longer give it power. It is then that you set the foundation for lasting change and deep inner peace.

Between now and next week, please spend some time with the following questions:

  • In which ways is wanting present in my life?
  • What are some of the people, places and things I tend to think will bring me peace?
  • Is it true that I need them in order to be at peace?
  • In which ways do I feel broken, lacking or not enough?
  • In which ways does this feeling only bring me more pain?
  • Am I willing to stop giving power to these illusions?
  • Am I willing to open to the truth that I am loved?

From my heart to yours,

When You Break Through These Common Misunderstandings You Can Discover the True Power of Inner Peace.

Most would agree that peace is a good thing, both personally in our lives and collectively in our world. Yet, in many cases, even when we hear a loud wake-up call, we seem to choose otherwise. Why? Perhaps we suffer from a misperception about peace and how we can choose it.

Some may confuse peacefulness with generic zombie-like indifference. Some believe peace is about being a passive pushover. Others may try to mask pessimism and despair with a veneer of chipper peacefulness. None of these perspectives sees peace in its full beauty.

Peace Is Not Turning Away

Peace is not about being indiscriminately okay with whatever is, as expressed in the common phrase “it’s all good”. When we encounter suffering, we cannot simply turn away as though it is not a problem. The humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma says that when we are aware of our interconnectedness, just as our right hand immediately extends to our left when we feel pain there, so too we extend our love to the world when we see suffering. We are one.

Peace Is Not Giving Up

In the same way, peace is not about throwing our hands in the air and saying “I give up” in the face of adversity. How can we abandon the world to which we owe our very life? Though it may seem easier to divorce ourselves from the pain we see and experience, it is ultimately the harder choice. Disconnection keeps us stuck and out of touch with the love and healing we seek. Peace flowers in our hearts when we allow ourselves to rest in our inherent interconnection with all that is.

Peace Is A Cool Mind and Open Heart

Living in peace is not passive. We may experience horror and atrocities. If we are passive in the face of such, we immobilize ourselves and thwart the possibility of change. This does not mean that the opposite is true. Peaceful living invites us into neither avoidance nor combat but profound presence. If we are aggressive in the face of atrocities, we implicate ourselves into the whirlwind of the horror. In reaction to our global challenges today, some people invoke anger, hate, and fear. But these only add fuel to the burning we so dearly wish to quell. The healing balm our world needs is the combination of a cool mind and an open heart.

Peace Is Present

As we open to this moment, we learn to see it as it is. This non-resistance disarms our ego’s tendency to create drama. The ego is hungry. Just as our minds tend to be busy, our ego is constantly seeking a way to sustain itself. The ego is a master at seeing a coiled rope as a snake, and creating drama accordingly. When we find presence, and open to the fullness of what is, we see the rope as simply that – a rope. Our egos distort what is into temporal illusions because it feeds our sense of self-importance. When we become fixated on reality appearing one way, “we are right” and “they are wrong”, we have become attached to a passing perception.

Peace Is Full of Possibility

In the depths of our breath and in the power of our hearts, we can become a witness to the world and open to its range of colours. This is called presence. Presence is the gateway to peace.

Peace is alive, awake, aware, active, and full of possibility. Our ego, that wants to keep the war alive, will misperceive it any way it can. But we do not have to listen to the ego’s divisive voice. We can choose the beauty of peace in every moment.

Until next week, please consider the following:

  • In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving it?
  • In which ways do I resist peace by misperceiving the moment? In which way am I adding drama to the world?
  • Am I willing to perceive differently?
  • What would my life look like if I did?
  • How would that affect those around me, even the world?

The Wake-Up Call to Inner Peace

Wake-up calls can take many forms in our lives. At first they may be subtle, but if we disregard them they become louder, like an alarm clock that only gets louder every time we hit the snooze button and roll back over to sleep. All we need to do is look at Nature for proof. Our air pollution falls back down to Earth as acid rain. If the pollution continues, people become ill with respiratory diseases. If we still don’t change our ways, our skies become so choked with smog that the sun is no longer visible, children are kept home from school and people wear masks to go out in the street. The effects of exploitation of the melting Arctic Ocean are like this as well. As the weather-regulating ice melts and as it is damaged by ships, rainfall patterns around the world are affected, leading to droughts, floods and crop failures. The seas warm up, which fuels disastrous storms like Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. The alarms are ringing loud and clear.

The Status Quo Isn’t Working

The increased agitation and the acts of violence towards humans and Nature that continue to happen around the world are a sign of illness. They call each of us to awaken into a new way of being. The status quo is no longer working. Many of us seem to be at a breaking point—whether we are experiencing health issues, relationship crises or job problems. What if we could see all of this as grace?

Hunger for Peace and Clarity

I believe the gift of our breaking points is that they inspire our hunger for clarity and an end to suffering. This hunger is not warful or wrathful. That would only contribute to the heated mess we find ourselves in. The breaking point teaches us profound willingness to know no-thing, so that we become profoundly receptive to the grace that already is.

The issue is, in our personal defensiveness and attachments to suffering, we can be a bit like deflecting shields, even to grace.

What if, when you came to a breaking point, you allowed yourself to break open? Instead of trying to toughen up, what if you found the courage and serenity to know that you are already within grace, and let go of your ever-so-fixed sense of “me”? What might that feel like? What would you discover?

Hitting Bottom in Our Global Addiction

Feeling disconnected from love, we want. This wanting becomes a frenzy, that creates pain, then more pain. Making choices from disconnection, we end up perpetuating it. Disconnection is our collective global addiction. We all suffer from it.

Those who have worked an addiction recovery program speak of the need to “hit bottom”. Bottom is where the pain of our repeated behaviour becomes so great that it outweighs whatever benefit our ego gets from it. When this happens, the desire for another way awakens within and we become open, ready and willing to live differently. In this way, hitting bottom is grace.

If you would like to experience peace, try allowing yourself to hit the bottom of your disconnected behaviour. Let it be a breakthough, as you break open to the love the universe is already giving you – even in the love that is coming from my heart to you right now. By opening up, you might just find that there is a lot more love, light than you had previously noticed. The compassionate presence and grace that Nature showers upon us will never give up on you. It continues to call you home to the truth of our inherent interconnection.

Practice Inner Peace Now

Between now and next week, please ask yourself the following:
• Are there areas in my life that feel at a breaking point?
• What are they asking me to change?
• What are they asking me to open to?
• What might life look like if I allowed myself to open to them?
• What is the cost of not opening?
• What is the benefit of opening?
• Am I willing to open?

From my heart to yours,

You Don’t Have to Travel The World In Search of Inner Peace. Start to Find it Right Here and Now

T. S. Eliot’s beautiful poem series “Four Quartets” explores the nature of our relationship with time, nature and the divine. I have often been particularly struck by these lines from the final poem, Little Gidding:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

His words are a poetic reminder of how and where we find inner peace. We may often travel far in search of it, before realizing that it has been here all along. The places within ourselves that avoid peace are with us wherever we go. When we humbly learn to witness and release them, we may choose inner peace and support peace in the world.

The Value of Groundedness

Before I traveled to the North Pole and just after I finished my university degree, I had the great privilege of living for a year in India. In the online video series “Our Superpower”, I have been sharing teasers for my upcoming book about how you can co-create with nature for an amazing life. One of my recent posts was about how I traveled to India to deepen my understanding of nature. I was looking to find greater connection with myself, others and the world through yoga and meditation.

However, I soon discovered that no physical distance could remove me from my self. I had brought all the intensity of my stressed-out-college-student, new-to-the-workplace attitude with me. Inescapably, I approached my yoga and meditation practice with the same driven determination to reach excellence as I had brought to everything else in my life. This misguided zeal unfortunately brought with it severe health problems, culminating in a life-changing near death experience. The universe was showing me in no uncertain terms that I needed to learn to live with earnest humility and practical groundedness in order to evolve and truly serve. After all, self-love and self-respect are the foundations to inner peace, so that I may love and respect the world.

Change Your Thinking

I realized during that year that it is impossible to cultivate inner peace with an attitude of stress, willfulness, or drivenness. Those only block the possibilities available to us in each moment. Einstein said it perfectly: “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” We experience a lack of inner peace because we feel disconnected, which causes us stress. Trying to connect from a place of feeling disconnected, then stressing about it, will not bring us any closer to peace. Like being stuck in an eddy on the edges of a great body of water, repeated thoughts whirl around our minds as we worry that we cannot flow with life. Caught up in our internal chatter, we have lost sight of how we are already within the majestic oceans of being that we seek.

“Wherever you go, there you are,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine. We may run from situations we find challenging. We may try to avoid them. But, as I learned in India, no matter where we are physically, we bring our total selves with us.

You don’t need to go off and become a hermit, take an extended holiday or be without action, in order to experience a peaceful life. Those may help you bring awareness to the painful habits that pull you away from inner peace. But ultimately, peacefulness is a reflection of what you choose in every moment, whether you live in an apartment in a busy city or in a monastery on a distant mountain top. It is through meeting what is with openness, alertness and ease, that you find your inner peace sanctuary.

Peace Practice

As you move through the week ahead, see if you can meet the moment by tuning into its underlying stillness and quiet. No matter how busy, even hectic your life may be, that peaceful place is there. Open to it. By engaging with noise, you end up feeling agitated. But by choosing to focus on the quiet underneath it all, you become still. In that stillness, you will discover greater possibilities, and feel refreshed and energized. Peace within is your home. Go there.

From my heart to yours,

PS: Inner peace is the foundation of a peaceful world. Please sign and share the MAPS petition today.

Can You “Build” the Inner Peace That Transforms the World?

When the idea came to me for this series, I considered the title “Building Your Inner Peace Sanctuary”. But as we cultivate inner peace, we are not really building anything. We are discovering what is already within us. When we get out of our own way, we find that peace is our true nature. As we come into harmony with our self and our environment, the perfection of the moment and the compassion of the universe is revealed to us.

When people wish to connect with each other and reduce conflict, we often use the term “peace building”. I wonder if that is accurate. Would not “reconnecting with love” be more honest? We feel uneasy, even attacked, when we do not feel loved. We feel unloved when we are disconnected from source, from the universe, from the divine. To discover peace, we need to connect with loving presence. When we turn towards the reality of love and interconnection, we are shown how to live in peace.

The Wild Flowers and You

Each spiritual tradition around the world has a name for this compassionate energy. There is a biblical passage that has remained dear to me since I was a child attending Sunday school. It comes just after Jesus teaches the famous Lord’s Prayer, which in itself reminds us that we are always loved. The verses warm my heart, especially as they refer to nature. They are from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6:

25 That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing! 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them…27 Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life? 28 And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; 29 yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these. 30 Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?

Focus on What is Real

To build inner peace suggests that peace is within our control. How could something as radiantly expansive as inner peace be controlled by our limited self? Trying to build inner peace is like trying to straighten out a cloud. It is an impossible task. We need to instead turn our attention to the light that is through and behind any clouds we perceive. Any pushing at or pulling from life is rooted in feeling against. We cannot find peace in againstness.

Let Go and Remember You Are Loved

We feel loved and confident when we tap into our inherent interconnection. We are never alone. Nor are we separate from each other, including those we may have been taught to think of as our enemies. This kind of love and confidence is not a mustering of our ego, which believes we are divided. It is a letting go of our ego, so that we may rest in our true, infinitely connected and compassionate nature.

Practice Inner Peace Now

This week, consider how you are cared for, loved and supported like the birds in the sky and the lilies in the field. Ask yourself, like a spot check through each day, “In this moment, am I willing to feel loved?” If you find yourself tense, take a few moments to pause and breathe and reconnect with the lilies in the field. Then allow peace to flower from within. Let me know how it goes.

Inner peace is the foundation to lasting peace in our beautiful world. Please don’t forget to sign and share the MAPS petition.

From my heart to yours,

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