Peace is the way
What a sad few days our world has had. The events in Paris, the war that rages on in Syria, the poverty and hunger worldwide. There is a lot to be sad about; a lot to make the heart heavy. As meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg once shared, "it's not easy to be with pain and to face suffering which can be so tragic, and to not be overwhelmed." But there is a way of hope, of peace. And feeling like our small efforts are inadequate or that we personally can't do anything or make a difference is simply not true.
Those cliches and adages we know and love stick around for a reason. Be the change. Spread love. Peace begins with a smile. To promote peace and healing, you must be kind to yourself. You must find some time to take good care of you It is true that peace starts from within - and that you cannot seek it without. And peace can begin by carving out an hour this week to take a long walk in nature, enjoy a luxurious bath, or lovingly prepare a healthy meal for yourself or for friends.
Buddhist teachers share an important strategy for reducing that 'unmoored' or 'struck down' feeling we can get from excessive stress and tragedy - and that is to fill up your inner reservoir. To prioritize the tending to an inner place of resiliency - a well that (they suggest) should be carefully monitored. This strong, full place, provides a center, a place to find balance and hope - even in times of great sadness.
There are many ways to do this. Many spiritual teachers suggest meditation as a key way to obtain that bigger perspective; a way to find a sense of equanimity and peace amid the chaos.
A few years ago at a speaking event in India, right after a great deal of violence had occurred in Tibet, the Dalai Lama opened the event by sharing, "my mind is filled with disturbed thoughts, but my heart is very steady." To me, this encapsulates that inner depth of spirit, of resiliency of heart and yet the tender humanity that we can all relate to.
No, you are not the Dalai Lama, and to be clear, neither am I. But there are lessons and take-aways we can utilize if we really reflect on those words. There is a lot of suffering. We live in a world of sad sad stuff - especially right now. But there is a way to maintain a steady heart even amidst great pain. It's not about ignoring it, but about creating space. Facilitating and ritualizing the care of our own peace and self-healing so that we can maintain depth, opening, and love in our hearts. In this way, we can let that peace spread - further and further out - in concentric circles, touching all those we interact with and - we hope - far far beyond. All it takes is a bit of tuning in, and a bit of kindness. It helps to remember these wide words from the Buddha:
'peace comes from within - do not seek it without'
For more resources on opening the heart, you can listen to my mini meditation here. May you find peace in your own heart, and share it with your world.