“Peace Beauty and goodness are always there in each of us”
…Thich Nhat Hanh
This fundamental Buddhist belief professed by the ninety-year-old monk, Thich, Nhat Hanh, has seen him through war, struggle, joy, and injustice. He also proclaims, “peace in oneself, peace in the world.” Research concurs that those of us who can navigate through life with a sense of calm increase our quality of life and are less at the whim and mercy of circumstance. How then do you find the inner beauty and inner peace that is a constant undercurrent flowing beneath the chaotic exterior? When tragedy or sadness strikes, how do we cultivate that comforting sense of serenity?
Finding time to let go of doing, and simply breathing is a way to start. Although your mind will want to distract you with to-do lists or issues to fret over, take it one breath at a time. Perhaps you begin with a moving or walking meditation. There’s no trick or magic. By redirecting your thoughts back to your breath, watching your inhale and exhale, filling up and emptying out, you begin to fall into a rhythm. If a thought tries to lure you away from the breath, let it go as if it were a balloon floating by, don’t attach to it.
Like riding a bike, learning a language, or disciplining a child, consistency matters. Practicing every day, before long, you will begin to look forward to your meditation time. Like returning home after a long journey, it is a place of rest. Often we fall into the “I’m too busy” trap to avoid quiet breathing and silence. Remember the first time you did yoga or went to the gym, or decided to eat healthier? Change is always challenging at first unless you practice it repeatedly. One day you’ll realize you’re no longer thinking about it; you’ve incorporated it. Mindful breathing and meditation are no different, and the rewards you reap far outweigh the time you spend quieting your mind.
We notice the wind out of the stillness, the light from the dark. When we take the time to go inward, we begin to see the current of life become calm. Perhaps you are clinging to fear or anger, and it acts like a barrier stopping your progress towards finding peace? Through the constancy of the breath, begin to notice these emotions, don’t judge them. Then see with each exhale if you can release them to the atmosphere, where they can dissipate like fog burned off by the afternoon sun. Allow yourself time to breathe, and with every inhale, watch how the body fills with nourishing oxygen laden breath. Notice your shoulders, let them relax down your back, unclench your jaw, and unfurrow your brow. Allow the exhale to empty your negative thoughts. Water seeds of compassion with each inhale.
Eventually, spending time in quiet stillness will spill over into every aspect of your life. You’ll feel less anxious in traffic, less upset when someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store, less reactive to the mind’s wanderings. Your ability to focus and concentrate will increase. With today’s world tugging at your attention, being able to direct your attention where you want it to go will allow you to stay in that beautiful place of peace where wisdom and healing reside.