It happens in an instant–love and acceptance snap to anger and unrest. I’ve seen/felt it a hundred times each day on battlefields, street corners, at dinner tables, but, most importantly, in my own mind. This is where peace starts and ends, and we have the power to choose.
I was walking with my kids on a sunny day, smiling at the world and every passerby. Suddenly, a car flies by at twice the speed limit for a school zone. My shoulders tense, my eyes squinch, and my mind runs through a series of tortures to inflict on that selfish SOB who put my kids in danger.
Just now, I got a notification of a comment that had nothing to do with the conversation on the post. After reading the comment twice, I realized it was spam. “F#*ker,” I whispered as I deleted the user. See how easy it is to lose peace of/in mind. (Is it just everyday gurus or has everyone been getting more spam that “replies” to a comment already posted?)
Sometimes a word will set us off–Obama, Newtown, Nanking, Holocaust, Homosexual. Depending on your history, politics, ethnicity, or religious background these words can start a fire in your mind that will prevent you from loving unconditionally.
“If the earth were your body, you would be able to feel the many areas where it is suffering.”–Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve found that the body will tell us when the first shots of anger are fired. Pay close attention to your shoulders and hands. Are you gripping the steering wheel tighter when someone refuses to make a right turn at a stop light?
Breath can be a great fire detector. Are you breathing deeply or is your jaw clenched as you exhale steam? Everyone has a different physiological reaction. What is yours?
Once you recognize the fire, start by relaxing the physical indicator first. Massage your shoulders, hands, or jaw. Close your eyes and breathe deeply–keep eyes open if you are driving.
Once you are physically relaxed then focus on the mind. Step into the shoes of the person you are “at war” with. I often recite “we are all one” or “we are all just trying to be happy.”
“If we want to understand a person, we have to feel his feelings, suffer his suffering, and enjoy his joy.”–Thich Nhat Hanh
It may not be politically correct, but I note the person’s race, gender, and/or ethnicity and think of similar people that I love. If they are Asian, I think of Thich Nhat Hanh or Aung San Suu Kyi. If they are an Indian woman, I think of Amma. I use these two examples because where I live a number of bad drivers SEEM to fit these profiles. (How’s that for politically incorrect?) Just trying to keep it real.
Which reminds me, you can’t put out the fires of anger and unrest if you are not honest with yourself. You may think you are not racist, but if your daughter starts dating a person from a different race, how will you feel? Awareness of our prejudices leads to understanding and hopefully love.
When I was a surfer, all of my friends and I hated Brazilians. They were loud, aggressive, and clannish–kind of like Americans. (Funny how the things in ourselves that we see in others irritates us the most). So when I planned a trip around the world, I included a stop in Rio De Janeiro. I didn’t want to hate an entire country. After a month in Brazil I realized two things: 1) Brazil is made up of a diverse group of people from different races, classes, and cultures and 2) I love Brazileiros. I was basing my view of an entire country on a few traveling surfers from one particular segment of their society. tenho saudade de brazil.
Body check, did any of the previous statements cause your shoulders to tighten? Did you think “F#*k you, Kozo, you’re the racist”? We are all part of the problem and the solution. We are all one, but we need to honestly clear away the thoughts that prevent us from manifesting this reality.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
Am I the only dreamer of a color-blind society who still struggles with impure thoughts about others? Please share.
- Reflection for today…The Roots of Peace -Thich Nhat Hanh (mysoulsonice.wordpress.com)
- Peace, Kindness, and Attention (motherwifestudentworker.wordpress.com)
- We are Light (B4Peace Post) (heartflow2013.wordpress.com)
- An Artist For Peace (spiritualmysticism.wordpress.com)