From the archives:
A few years ago, I was asked 3 little questions about inner peace by a spiritual friend. I thought I'd share my answers here with you today. Despite the passage of time, my answers remain the same.
"Do you have a practice to cultivate inner peace in your life?"
Out of absolute necessity, I have many practices I use each day to stay as serene as possible. I was a nervous child. I kiddingly say that inherited worry genes from my dad’s side of the family and anxiety genes from my mother’s side. I tend to “feel” everything. So in 1994, when I’d maxed out my health due to stress (worry and anxiety too), I discovered mindfulness and the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. That was a turning point for me and since then I have had a deep passion for living as peacefully as possible.
My favorite inner peace practice is connecting with nature. Nature, for me, is my “God” connection. All of nature is sacred and all I need to do to feel relaxed and at ease in my life is to step outside, lift my face to the sky, breathe, and heighten my senses to get plugged into feelings of peace, gratitude and joy. Works every time!
"And, in what ways is that inner peace amplified/enriched by external?"
Mindfulness practice (which I have engaged in for over 20 years now) invites me to let everything in and use it as spiritual practice. If the world hands me a difficult situation, I can actually use this is a prompt to go within and access my innate peace. Peace is always there, ready for the taking. If the world offers up a delight, mindfulness allows me to stop, take notice, and indulge that experience. There are many exterior things that amplify peace for me. Nature, acts of kindness, art, music, the essence of people, animals. Simple things. The sound of leaves moving with the breeze, the touch of my husband’s hand, the sweet taste of ripe strawberries. Anything can touch our essence (our core) and amplify peace if we have the eyes to perceive it and the open heart to receive.
"Do you have a favorite quote about peace and if so, how do you apply it within your life?"
"No matter what is happening in our lives, peace is possible."
This phrase comes via one of my mentors, Sylvia Boorstein. No matter what is happening in the world, no matter how difficult things are, we have the capability to change our mind about how we respond to life. We can live elegantly, creating beauty, love and kindness everywhere we go. Or, we can perpetuate small-mindedness, live in fear or anger, creating dissension or harm—even to ourselves—by holding onto certain mindsets and behaviors. The choice is ever ours to embody our essence, which is peace. Anyone can do this. It simply takes the awareness and will to do so.
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It’s been said thousands of times before, hundreds of books written on it— a cluttered desk, office, or house creates inner turmoil. It’s true. I know it is for me. I cannot write (even a column like this) if there is disarray around me. It is as if my mind picks up the exterior mess and dumps it back inside creating an inner landfill.
Before you begin your workday, clear and organize your desk as best you can. Even if what’s there is in piles, that’s better than loose-leaf papers strewn all over. Organize the desktop on your computer. A monitor screen cluttered with documents can set the mind awhirl. By taking a few moments each day to stay organized, you set the stage for clearer thinking. The calmer you are the clearer your mind will be. That’s a fact.
As "working people" with multiple roles and responsibilities, it is up to us to be as calm as possible—and to access it as often as we can throughout the day. Our homes and businesses need us to be “grounded” and clear thinking. Their success depends on our ability to be present, not scattered; effective, not exhausted.
Know what simple activities plant you back in your calm center—then do them! Step away if you need to. Take a music break. Go outside and breathe in Mother Nature. Walk on your lunch hour. Your inner peace quotient is up to you. It will rise and fall with every choice you make.
I once asked Jungian analyst and author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in an interview what wisdom was. Her answer? “Wisdom is what works.” I was taken aback by the simplicity of her response, but I knew what she said was true. Wisdom—especially women’s wisdom—is sourced in the practical. It is what we know works, especially what we can and should do to keep things running smoothly—and to take care of ourselves in the process.
Today, begin to take the first steps toward bringing a greater sense of calm into your workday. When you do, I guarantee you will feel your clarity return. And out of that clear-mindedness, your wisdom will rise and make itself known to you. Life will begin to look and feel different, even behind a desk or in the boardroom.
Calm, clear, wise—that’s the magic formula for a successful business and a stellar life.
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Part 1 of a 2 part series on being at peace
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
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Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.