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,
Parvati

What a Busy NYC Morning Can Teach You About A-Ha Moments and Inner Peace

Parvati.org founder Parvati shares an experience on a busy New York City sidewalk that taught her about finding inner peace:

I had traveled to the city center to go to—of all things—a meditation retreat. After a beautiful few days of practicing inner stillness and presence, I vividly remember the midday in July that I stepped out of the cocoon-like intimacy I had just experienced, back into the bustling city. Rather than concrete and steel, the cityscape looked luminous, as though everything was made of light. As I looked up at Manhattan’s textured skyline, it seemed to shimmer. The world looked vibrant and alive, and at the same time, not at all real. As I paused to breathe it all in, I sensed I might be glimpsing through what the ancient yogic sages referred to as maya, the veil-like illusion of life from which we must all awaken to fully realize our divine Self. It was not that it looked two-dimensional. Instead, it seemed to be a fully formed space in which we live, through which our lives unfold–but that is temporary and without lasting substance.

The A-Ha Moment

As I walked into this effervescent field of light, I could feel that though I am living in my body, I am not of the body. I understood that even as life takes place in the temporary field of aliveness I was seeing, I am not of it. Resting into this new reality, I became even more fully present. I felt profoundly alive and connected.

Maybe you can relate to what happened next. I think we all have times when moments of openness are soon followed by an inner voice saying, “Wait! Can this be true?”

A pedestrian walked by, and I became self-conscious. I wondered if perhaps I stood out too much in flowing white clothes, carrying a rose, beaming a blissful smile from ear to ear. With this thought, the crystalline inner clarity began to dissipate, and the radiant transparency I saw before me thickened.

“Losing” the A-Ha

It may be tempting to think there is something “wrong” with you when an expansive experience seems to dissipate. But I’ve come to realize that it’s actually just the voice of ego, threatened by interconnection, taking you away from the love and peace you just touched. What if you were to choose patience and presence in those moments and not give in to self-judgment?

That is how I considered the potency of what I had just experienced—both the opening I had, and how quickly I was allowing it to close, just because of my thoughts. What occurred to me was that the light of consciousness is always present within all, if I open to it. I could remain peaceful, as long as I was willing to rest in the knowing of our inherent interconnection. With this, came tremendous power—the power to choose how I would perceive the moment before me.

Ask Yourself This

Each day brings with it a variety of stresses, challenges and joys. In the whirlwind of our lives, we may think we do not have a choice in how we experience what is right before us. But we do. We can close to it, or we can open. We may convince ourselves that peace is too hard to find because of our hectic lives. Yet, what if it was there all along, just waiting for us to tune in to it through the power of perception and our gift of choice?

Next week, as we continue to cultivate inner peace, let’s take a look at why we tend to close to the moment, and how we can welcome and be present for what is instead.

Until then, consider challenging your perceptions through the day, every day this week, by asking yourself the following questions:

• Is what I am seeing truly solid, fixed and unmoving?
• Can I see the moment differently?
• Could there be a light beyond what I see?
• Am I willing to open to it?
• Am I willing to embrace an expansive experience as it comes, without trying to cling to it or judge my state of being?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

Why Nature Shows the Way Past Despair

With fires burning in the Arctic and Amazon, Parvati.org founder Parvati shares how we can practice presence and support peace in Nature.

As I write this post, both the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic are burning at a devastating rate. Since we were just looking last week at presence in this online workshop, these tragic events provide us an opportunity to practice it. Presence can shed compassionate light on tender, even painful questions, such as, why there is suffering in the world. It illuminates the possibility of another way. It helps us connect with the immensity of our capacity to love, serve, and feel at one with the wisdom of Nature.

In the light of presence and in the spirit of learning from Nature, we can ask ourselves, why are the Arctic and Amazon ablaze? Why are crops failing and species going extinct in such alarming numbers today? And why do so many people seem to turn an apathetic blind eye to it all?

I believe that the answer lies in understanding the power of our interconnection with the planet that gives us life. The Earth is a complex living organism with intelligence beyond what we can truly understand. Feverish today, she is like a person with a raging temperature, building internal heat to shake off an infection. It is as if the planet is trying to shake off the weight we put on her: the physical toxins we emit in the air, water and food. We could also add to this the etheric toxins we emit in our disconnected actions and distorted thoughts. We have lost touch with the impact of our choices on our environment, how what we think, feel and do affects all beings, everywhere. The responsibility that comes with our inherent interconnection may feel daunting. So, we try to manage, outsmart, even out-do Nature. When we see a chaotic world that seems to have gone mad, we may give into despair.

Yet, Nature does not despair. With fierce love, she cries louder than ever to be heard: I am here! Think of the flower that sprouts through concrete. Does it become despondent at the weight through which it must arise? Or does it simply grow in beauty? Consider the whales who, hunted to a fraction of their former population, killed by ship strikes and often in agony from a noisy ocean, still approach people to protect them from harm, or to request their help. Look at this Great Whale Conservancy video and notice how the humpback whale behaves after being freed from a fishing net. In every breathtaking arc up out of the water and every thunderous slap of her tail, she embodies joy and generosity of spirit.

We find inner and outer peace in presence, interconnection, and by following Nature’s example. Doing so shifts us from the pain of disconnect into the true magnificent possibilities of our lives.
Until next week, please consider these questions:

• Am I willing to be present, even when I feel upset at what’s happening in my life and in the world?
• Am I willing to feel interconnected, right now?
• What will I do this week to follow Nature’s example for compassionate action and inner peace?

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

How to Stay Present For What’s Going On With the World

How do we face the painful events happening in today’s world? Parvati.org Founder Parvati shares her insights:

Being on the front lines for a global peace initiative in the form of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, means that I regularly confront painful news. For example, devastating fires have been burning this summer in the overheating Arctic. Right now, more than two million people in Zimbabwe, and a million people in Kenya, are facing life-threatening food shortages. Typhoon Lekima has recently caused catastrophic damage in China. Deadly flooding has struck south India for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, all over the world, families are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together in the wake of violence like random mass shootings and deliberate war. I am sometimes asked how I face this and remain present and inspired to create GEM: Global Education for MAPS.

What is presence? I experience presence when I’m not resisting the moment. That is, when I am welcoming it fully as it is. I may dislike it. Or I may love it. But both of those reactions come and go like colours that I overlay on what is before me. When I am present, my heart is open, my mind is calm and clear, and I am of maximal service to all beings within the whole. That’s because when I am present, I remember that we all exist within the whole. We are each called to play our part within the totality of life. The chaos we face in the world today, or even the chaos we face within ourselves and our personal lives, are all held within the whole. When I am anchored in this reality, I feel rooted, vital and expansive, instead of reactively ungrounded, listless or constrictive.

Over the course of this Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary workshop, we will explore presence in much more depth. This week, we take a first look at how to stay present in the face of what’s going on in the world. Here is a simple practice. Do it as often as you can.

  • Sit up straight. Focus on your breath, as you inhale and exhale deeply, but naturally, in a relaxed manner.
  • Notice what arises in your mind. Rather than engage your thoughts, simply let them go by and return your attention to your breath. Allow yourself to feel rooted throughout your body, sensing your relationship with the ground. Experience a vitality through your spine. Notice the expansiveness of your breath.
  • Then consider this thought: In each moment, you are breathing the same air shared by all life on Earth.
  • Give yourself the time and space to be present for this truth.
  • Feel connection to the whole through your breath. It is infinitely wise, loving, present. It holds space for everything, from the most beautiful joy to the most wrenching tragedy. Rest into it and remember that you are never alone.

As we stay present to our interconnection within the whole, we find the path to inner and outer peace.

From my heart to yours,

Parvati

Peace of Mind for Peace in the World

Parvati.org founder Parvati underscores the importance of inner peace as essential for world peace.

Peace, Meditation, and Inner Sanctuary

In the morning, as I sit in meditation, I am a witness to the world awakening, and watch my own self open to a field of possibilities. My mind may wander to what I will have for breakfast or what lies in my workday ahead. But with practice, I do now experience periods of deep inner peace.

This kind of inner sanctuary is essential to me as I face, like we all do, a lot of questions and demands throughout the day. For me, they come mostly through my work as a touring musical artist and composer, as the founder and CEO of an international charity working to create MAPS, the world’s largest peace sanctuary, and in my personal life as a wife, sister, aunt and friend.

Last week, we concluded with a couple of exercises on how to become more present. I suggested ways you could implement them into your daily routine. How did it go for you? Are you finding that you can give yourself more internal space, ease and peace?

If you had moments of, “I don’t know what I’m feeling right now,” that’s natural. It’s as though we’re at the gym, building a new “awareness” muscle. Presence and inner peace develop with time and practice. I also like to think of inner peace as a garden. The seeds of peace will flower within us as we cultivate them with care and loving attention.

A New Ecological Footprint

A few years ago, I attended a talk by Aryne Sheppard from LivingSimply.ca. She spoke about how we need to move from the awareness of our ecological footprint to include the understanding of our ecological mind-print. I love that term! It succinctly expresses the idea that what we think affects more than just ourselves. It speaks to the need for inner peace as the foundation to world peace.

We’ve probably all seen comic illustrations of people happily beaming like sunshine, or gloomily walking along under their own raincloud. It may seem simplistic yet points to a profound truth. Our thoughts and moods are like clouds in our personal atmosphere. But are they just in our own atmosphere? We all breathe the same air. We live under a common sky. We walk the same ground. Because we are all connected, all life on the planet will sense, at some level, our inner sun or clouds. What we think, feel and do affects each other.

Be Patient With Yourself

As you practice developing inner peace, it’s important to be patient with yourself. Remember that to judge or be down on yourself for not being “there” yet enables a disconnected state. You would be waging war on yourself – however subtly.  That would add more clouds to your own sky and our shared, collective sky.

Instead of focusing on clouds, trying to push or pull at them or judging them as wrong, consider the reality of a shining sun ever present beyond them.

Between now and next week, please ask yourself the following:

  • When I felt peaceful, did it seem to support peace around me?
  • When I was at war inwardly, did I see it reflected around me?
  • Am I willing to be patient and compassionate with myself, even when I don’t feel at peace?

We’re all learning and growing together. If you feel so moved, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I love hearing from you.

From my heart to yours,

Parvati

How to Find Peace – Starting with This Moment

Please enjoy this heartfelt sharing from Parvati.org founder Parvati about how to experience the timeless state of inner peace.

Peace that Passes All Understanding

When I first heard the words “peace that passes all understanding” as a child, it was as though it subtly planted the seeds of peace within my heart. Through many years tending to that garden, I have come to experience moments of profound peace. The phrase pointed me to the truth that such peace is always available to us, when we are willing to look deeper, become still and go within.

As we explored last week, to live in peace is to live free from fear of violence, conflict or hostility. In peaceful living, we don’t feel any sense of “against-ness” towards anyone or anything, including ourselves. We feel whole, unified with all that is. This is because we are rooted in our inherent interconnection with life itself. Established in inner peace, we realize that any notion of against-ness is a passing illusion, one created by our ego that only knows to separate and divide. We will look at this understanding of ego, and how it is an obstacle to inner peace, in more depth in the coming weeks.

How to Find Peace

How do we experience that timeless, expanded state beyond our ego’s grasp? We each will have our personal answers on how to find peace. For me, as a devoted meditator, I begin every day sitting in presence with the silence of dawn.

When people ask me what meditation is, I answer that it is a way to develop intimacy with the moment, exactly as it is. This may seem like a contradiction when there are so many things about ourselves, others and the world that bother us. But to find peace, we need to first see that we tend to attack the moment with our busy thoughts, judging it and trying to control how we think the moment should be. When we let go of this painful tendency, we enter into a peaceful relationship with the here and now.

World Peace Begins Within

Last week, we looked at how peace in the world and peace within ourselves are interconnected. World peace begins with individual peace of mind. We need to get to know ourselves. We need to befriend ourselves. We need to understand the wars we wage in our minds, the way we carry animosity and against-ness towards ourselves, each other and the world. We need to realize the way we inadvertently attack the moment, without even knowing that we do.

This week, please consider some simple ways you can develop a more peaceful relationship with yourself, as the foundation to a peaceful world.

  • Am I willing to take a few minutes, morning and night, to find a quiet place where I can be calm and alone, and be present with myself? (For example, make it a habit when you first wake up to sit quietly at the side of your bed for a few minutes just to breathe, before doing any other activity. Do the same before going to sleep.
  • Am I willing to take a few moments throughout the day to tune into how I am feeling and be present for myself? (Return to the feeling of sitting and breathing in the morning. Do this at your desk, while on the bus, or waiting in line at the supermarket. Begin to include awareness of yourself like check-points throughout the day. Let it be a gift to yourself and the world.)

Please feel free to share what comes up for you in these practices and the content offered here. This is our shared safe space where we develop a peaceful world together.

From my heart to yours,

Parvati

What does Peace Mean?

Parvati.org founder Parvati shares her personal experience with the meaning of peace.

Peace is as vast as the universe, as broad as the sky, as exquisite as the most precious flower and as deep as the roaring oceans. In this way, how can we really define it? When I was a child, I heard that having a spiritually connected life meant finding the “peace that passes understanding.” That phrase has always stayed with me. How could we ever understand peace with our limited mind or through the lens of our ego or finite will, when it rests in, and is a gift from, the infinite?  

Yet just as the light of the sun will reflect in every pool of water and show itself to us, we will see evidence of those whose hearts, minds and souls are ignited by peace. Moments of peace may make themselves known to us through the sparkle in a child’s eye, the knowing smile of a silver-haired senior, the joy of a frolicking puppy, or the activist who sits quietly yet resolutely in an endangered tree. As we continue to move through our “Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary” workshop, I’d like you to consider what peace means to you. What is your definition of peace? I would love to hear your thoughts.  

What World Peace Means and Why Inner Peace is Essential 

 It takes my breath away that as I write this post, Wikipedia staggeringly lists 50 wars, conflicts or skirmishes that have killed people in the past year. And beyond those tragedies, I think of all the personal wars we wage against those around us, disguised by our desire to be right, feel heard or get ahead in the world. I also consider the very real war we wage on ourselves, even from moment to moment.

To me, peace in the world means an end to violence, both within and without – the way we harm ourselves and others. It also means an end to injustices such as oppression, discrimination, and all the senseless crimes against our very nature that cause suffering. When we live in peace, we live with the awareness that we are inherently interconnected. From this, a courage is born to choose compassionate action toward ourselves, each other and the world.

In peaceful living, we shift from experiencing ourselves as disconnected beings who seek to solve problems we perceive as “out there.” It cures us from our human tendency to sense that somehow life is “happening to us.” We are inspired by the truth that however we choose to think, feel and act affects all life, everywhere.  

This week, please consider these questions throughout each day: 

  • What does peace mean to me?  
  • How do I wage war on myself, others and the world? 
  • Am I willing to see a more peaceful way?  
  • What could I choose to do differently?

Please share your thoughts in the comments if you wish. Have the most peace-filled week ahead. 

From my heart to yours, 

Parvati 

Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary

Parvati.org founder Parvati introduces a new free online workshop to support everyone living in greater peace, personally and globally.

How do we find peace in today’s world?

As I continue to complete the content of the Global Education Strategy for MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, it has been clear that realizing and sustaining an external peace sanctuary goes hand in hand with each of us finding our peace sanctuary within. So in support of MAPS and the greater good of all, I have developed a workshop for this blog space. It is a chance for us all to explore together the meaning of peace and how we can experience it practically, on a day to day basis in our lives. Beginning today, I’ll be posting short excerpts here every week. I have been developing material with the intention to share it over several months, because I want to provide soul food in bite size pieces—peace pieces!

If you are just coming to my blog for the first time, welcome! Thank you for being here to be a part of this. Please feel free to introduce yourself in the comments.

My commitment to peace

In my life, I have had the privilege of being exposed to multiple spiritual traditions and peace practices. Whether working as a CEO, musician, author, counsellor, lay-assistant minister, yoga teacher or workshop facilitator over the years, it’s been a lifelong passion of mine to live peacefully with myself, others and our world. This commitment has deepened since I dedicated myself completely to MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Seeing how much suffering there is in the world sparked me to engage in inspiring peace globally. So here, I will share what I have learned, and look forward to hearing from you in return.

I love giving workshops, because they are a chance for us all to feel connected and remember that we are not alone. When we come together, we create something beautiful, greater than the sum of our parts. I am really looking forward to seeing how this will evolve. My number one priority is that it be of service to you, so please be a part of the conversation.

Invocation of presence

I’d like to begin with a simple moment of presence. There’s an invocation that I lead whenever I begin a workshop or bring together a creative team. I use it because it powerfully brings us into the present moment. An invocation is different from an affirmation in that an affirmation replaces one thought with another, while an invocation is a cellular restructuring. So as you say these words, really breathe them into your body and allow yourself to be recalibrated around a life of possibilities.

Let’s try it now:

Begin with a long, deep breath.

Then another.

And one more long, deep breath.

Feel how already, your mind and body are just a little bit quieter, with just a bit more space around all of the other busy-ness of your day.

Now, if you would like, let’s invoke, “I am open, ready and willing to be completely restructured around the positive possibilities of being me.”

You can say it out loud, under your breath, or silently—however you feel most comfortable.

Repeat this statement. Then repeat it again. I am standing right next to you, saying the same words. Just like you, I am feeling my own mind and body attune to the opportunity right here, right now. We are connected.

Now, simply repeat: “I Am.”

“I Am.”

“I Am.”

In this space that we have now opened together, let’s turn our attention to the question: What does peace mean to me?

Take a moment with that. This is not about a right or wrong answer. I will share my own perspectives, but this is an opportunity for you to begin to connect with your own core beliefs and truths.

I invite you to write down what comes to you. Consider treating yourself to a notebook just for the purpose of this workshop. Science has shown that the physical act of writing helps our brains integrate information.

Now, consider this question:

In what ways would I like to experience more peace in my life?

Again, take your time. The wonderful advantage with this online workshop format is that you can go at the pace that’s right for you.

Take a few moments with this question:

In what ways do I wish for more peace in the world?

And finally, consider this question:

What do I hope to learn from this workshop on peace?

I welcome you to set intentions such as, “I would like to come away from this workshop with a deeper understanding of how to feel peaceful every day”, or “I would like to learn practical tools to stay calm and peaceful in stressful times”, or “I would like to recharge my spirits so that I can be a happier and more present mother/father/volunteer/teacher/lawyer/activist/etc.” Go within. Find your own truth. I’ll be looking for your comments and will make every effort to answer your questions.

Next week, I’ll start to share some ways I have found to experience deep peace and compassion and support others around me doing the same, even in today’s hurting world. Please do check back here next Sunday. And please share this blog and let your friends and family know to join the workshop. I know that as each one of us shows up and shares our hearts, everyone wins. We each are the healing we – and our world – so urgently need.

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