Practice Peace

I’m never quite sure what to do with the emotion that rises after these violent attacks on innocent people. I don’t know how to help or how to grieve or how to return to normal life without feeling guilty for still having a normal life.

Another senseless act of violence. Another set of emotions. Another set of fear. Another set of grief for those affected.

Another reminder to love.

To love the people that are easy to love and also those who aren’t.

And most importantly, a reminder to love the person who’s the hardest to love.

You.

There is very little I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening in the world, but what about the violent attacks that are happening close to home—the violent attacks that are happening in your own body, expressed through your own thoughts and your own behaviors? I’d like to think that I’m not violent toward myself, but when I look closely at the dialogue I choose or the way I react to behaviors that don’t suit me, sometimes it can look like a war-zone. I’m not sure that I can go around wishing for world peace, when there isn’t peace right here, within myself.

There isn’t much I can do to prevent violent attacks on innocent people, but there is a lot I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening within myself.

To allow diversity. Different emotions. Different thoughts. Different moods. Different behaviors. And to accept each one as unique and special and exquisitely beautiful as it builds a colorful array of variation and rich culture within myself.

To accept. The light, the dark, the deep, the shallow. To accept these varying aspects of myself, and recognize that even the things that seem imperfect lend themselves to cast perfect shadows in order to allow the light parts to shine even brighter.

To release. Release anger, release fear, release hurt, release resentment. And not just to release it, but to transform it into something that will enrich my life. To learn from these things; to alchemize my emotions into something beautiful: from sorrow to compassion; anger to activism; envy to inspiration; and fear to love.

To love. Not just to love the parts that are easy, but to love the parts that aren’t easy. The parts that scare me, trouble me, annoy, or irritate me. There is something there, beneath them, and the only way to find the gift is to love through the shadow that engulfs it.

To learn. And if, despite my best efforts, an attack still occurs, I’ll learn from it. How did it happen? What led to it? Where was I not paying attention? When did I stop listening? How can I get in front of the assault; in front of the build up; in front of the mindless cruelty toward myself?

Practice peace. Peace isn’t a onetime deal. Self-love isn’t graduation. Acceptance doesn’t show up and then stay without being entertained. It’s ongoing. It’s practice. It’s patience. It’s trying again and again and again.

World peace starts with inner peace.

Will you try?

Maggie-Lochtenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Maggie Lochtenberg

How to Meditate Without Driving Yourself Crazy

There is no doubt that a regular meditation practice can change your life. It teaches you to tune in and understand yourself in ways you never thought possible. It strengthens your inner resolve to become a conscious observer of whatever comes up—both internally and externally—and opens up an unlimited source of inner space and peace.

It seems simple enough—just sit and breathe—but there’s this unruly, free-spirited influence called the mind—and it loves attention. When we try to ignore it, it just seems to get louder. Sometimes it helps to have a bit of direction, so here are a few tips to help make it more do-able:

  • You can practice anywhere, anytime, for any duration. And you don’t have to sit still. The important thing is that you’re comfortable, so if sitting in a pretzel position on the floor isn’t your thing, try a different position. And if sitting still makes you feel crazy, try a moving meditation instead. There are no rules, so be creative in your approach.
  • It’s important to recognize who’s in charge. I know it might feel like your thoughts are running the show, but truly, it’s the other way around—you have the power to control your thoughts—and meditation is a great way to get them organized and under control. Take a moment to observe your thoughts; if you’re observing them, then you can see that they are separate from ‘you’ as an observer. When you recognize the distinction, you can determine which thoughts you choose to keep and which ones you want to release. Furthermore, when you separate yourself from your thoughts, you’ll see that you can meditate on the essence of you that contains your thoughts, rather than be swept away by them. You can still meditate while there is some thought activity still going on—you’re just not getting wrapped up in whatever story is playing out.
  • Your mind loves to be busy, so give it something to do. Select a mantra (a word, phrase, or sound repeated to aid in concentration), or you can simply count from 1-10 over and over again. Using the counting method, the idea is to start back at one again when you notice that your thoughts have started to drift. (When I first started to practice meditation, I never made it past four). You’ll notice that in the beginning it’s hard to get the mind to stick to one thing—it’s sort of a free spirit—but meditation is about disciplining the mind so that you can use it as a tool, rather than the other way around. It’s just like anything else; it takes time and practice to develop strength and discipline—so keep trying.
  • It might help to think of your thoughts as creative little sparks of imagination, (sort of like little kids). Without direction, they dance and bounce all over the place, but once they gain a bit of focus, the possibilities are endless. So be kind and patient as you work with your thoughts. Politely ask them to settle down; give them some direction, and keep working on it. You may have to redirect your focus 30 times in two minutes—that’s okay! That’s why it’s called a practice, and it does get easier.
  • Another thing to keep in mind as you start a meditation practice is that you don’t have to try to figure anything out, or try to seek peace, because inner peace and wisdom is your natural state. All meditation does is help you slip into that natural state, which is sort of hiding beneath the static noise of the mind. As you practice, you’ll open up more and more space and you’ll realize that the peace you crave has truly, always been there.
  • One of my favorite methods is to just let it be. Rather than allow your mind to take center stage, simply allow it to remain, but turn the volume of it WAY down, so that it’s like a soft murmuring of noise far off in the distance somewhere. Then place your direct focus on your breath, your body, a mantra, or whatever you choose as an anchor point.
  • And, if in spite of all your efforts it still isn’t working out, simply try again later. Next time, maybe try a different time of day or a different approach. Whatever you do, try again.

The important thing to remember about meditation is that it is a practice and it does get easier. Let go of what type of experience you think you should be having or how it should feel—because if you get stuck on an idea of how it should be, the experience might make you feel even crazier than before you started.

And stick with it. Even if it feels like nothing is happening during the time that you actually spend meditating, it is having an influence on the rest of your life. Your intention to simply be present with yourself sends a powerful energetic vibration to the Universe, letting it know that you’re ready to expand your consciousness. Give yourself permission to experience whatever comes up and accept that your process is perfect in whatever way it manifests for you.

To help get you started, I’ve added an audio recording of a brief 3-minute guided meditation. I hope it helps. You can listen to that right here:

 

Also, I spoke about this topic on  KSL Studio 5 recently. You can watch the clip right here. I hope it helps.

I’m sending loads of love your way; happy meditating!

e.

Meditate