19 January 2011

Moments of Peace

It seems that unless we force them to happen in our lives, we very rarely have opportunities to experience peace.  Days and weeks of peaceful existence seem to be something reserved for monks and people who can afford to take time in places where the hustle and bustle of everyday experiences don’t follow them.  How many of us would love to spend a week on a beach or in a mountain getaway, with no responsibilities other than eating and sleeping and bathing now and then?  Unfortunately, those times aren’t in the day-to-day agenda for most people.

But one of the most important things that I’ve learned in the last few years is the skill of carving out peaceful times from my busy day.  When I try to do so, I can almost always find five- or ten-minute blocks of time that I take for myself, not doing anything in particular except maybe reading something relaxing.  I can find the time to say a simple prayer or two, to pay attention to my breathing and slow down my mind, to think kind and helpful thoughts about other people in my life.  Sometimes I do it during lunch time–I can eat and then spend time relaxing.  Sometimes I find a natural break in the rhythm of the day, when I can simply disappear for a few minutes to recharge my mind and spirit and body.

The most important thing that I’ve learned, though, is that I have to make these times happen.  I have to consciously push something else out of the way in order to experience the peace.  I have to consciously search out a place where I can feel peaceful.  I have to remind myself that such times are necessary.  Some days I get so caught up in things that I don’t make the effort to give myself the gift of these times, and on those days I don’t feel as strong as I ought to; on those days I’m not able to give to others nearly as much of myself.

We can find those times–we can make those times.  There are moments in all of our days when we can turn our backs on what’s going on in order to connect with ourselves, with our God, with our spirit, and allow ourselves to experience the peace that was meant to be ours.  Too often, we spend our time turning our backs on peace, when peace should be the last thing that we avoid or neglect.

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see.
The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.  We don’t have
to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky.  We don’t have to leave our city or even
our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child.
Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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