How to Get a Piece of Peace in Your Life

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Exercising the Smile

Try this exercise right now. Let your mouth slowly form a smile, with lips gently closed. Hold the smile for at least ten seconds. Slowly inhale and exhale.

Did your mood shift slightly? Did your thoughts change?

When we ask our bodies to do something (breathe, smile, relax, etc.), our bodies will comply and then our minds seem to follow.

Try to do this at least once a day, especially when you are feeling least willing to smile. If you can fake it, you might be able to make an internal change. Perhaps you'll even make someone else smile, too.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Inspiration to Keep Trying

"All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, not in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin." -- John F. Kennedy

This is exactly why we work on peace. Because we believe in it, not because we know that our efforts will be successful. We simply believe in it to begin it. It is in the miniscule steps, in the smallest of actions.

"If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work." — Thich Nhat Hanh

Someone has to start it and let it become a chain reaction. If you smile at your neighbor, your neighbor will smile at the cashier, the cashier will smile at the next customer, and so on and so on. If your neighbor didn't smile this morning, perhaps it will happen the next time you smile. Attempting to be peaceful does not end when the results are not instantaneous. Being peaceful continues with repetition in each thought, word, and action. Do not give up after one try. Do not give up after ten tries. Simply do not give up.

It begins with you and it is for you.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Living in the Moment

The present is what we have. THIS MOMENT. The more we focus on the past or the future, the less we are living in the present and actually absorbing what this moment has to offer. The less we live in the present, the less we feel joy or peace. What are you receiving from the world right NOW?

This exercise is similar to my 5/20/2005 entry, Practicing Mindfulness. Try this with someone who is close to you to see what it feels like to live in this moment.

Stay present for five minutes, without talking about the past or the future...commenting on the sounds, tastes, sensations....anything that happens only in the moment that you are in.

You'll notice more feelings of gratitude and appreciation for everything around you. You'll also notice that you and someone else are sharing the exact same moment, which can be intimate and centering.

If you do not have a person you can do this with, try just thinking about what is happening in the present. If your thoughts stray to the past or the future or something not in your immediate surroundings, simply note the thoughts and come back to where you are.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

In the Center of You

Want to do an internal check of what feelings are with you at this very moment?

Sit comfortably, put your dominant hand (the one you write with) on your chest, and look down that arm, toward the elbow.

Take a few deep breaths. Identify the feeling that lies directly underneath your hand.

Take a few more deep breaths. Now identify the feeling directly below that.

Once again, take a few deep breaths. Identify the feeling that lies below the first and second feeling.

This exercise is helpful in understanding where you are emotionally, during your day or week. It is also a vital part of witnessing, validating, and healing old emotions that you may not realize you have. You can do this as often as you wish. You may be surprised to find certain combinations, such as anger, sadness, and finally peace.

This exercise was demonstrated by Dr. Mary Delaney at an AWARE conference in February, 2003. To learn more about the AWARE conference, visit

To purchase a CD by Mary Delaney called "Sacred Spaces: Healing Exercises to Refresh Your Mind, Body, and Spirit" which helps with breathing and visualization, visit

Friday, May 27, 2005

Possible Roadblocks to Your Peace

Since our thoughts originate from our brains, it is difficult to remember that our brains are housed within our bodies and that MANY things can affect the WAY WE THINK. Sometimes changing the way we think and feel are not simple tasks. Sometimes things that are happening to our bodies has a strong impact on our minds and we forget to recognize that we could be influenced by outside factors.

All of these things have an impact on the way you think and feel:

Lack of sleep mimics depression. You might not know you're tired, but you might notice that things seem more overwhelming, irritating, unnappealing, and stressful. If you're experiencing this, wait until you've had more sleep and see if your perspective changes.

Food & Water
Lack of nutrients keeps you in a "survival" mode. You will be operating on a "need" only basis and all other things will seem unnecessary and perhaps a hindrance to you. If you find that you are annoyed or easily angered, perhaps your body requires food or water. The types of food you eat are especially important as well. Having heavy starches and carbohydrates will numb you. They are comfort foods and will keep you in a slightly sedated state. Sugars are meant to give you quick energy, which could translate into anxiety. Refined sugars will also give you a drop after the high, translating to a possible negative mood as well. A diet high in meats can also give you anxiety. When animals are killed, they release adrenalin, a hormone which gives the "fight or flight." As you eat meat, you ingest these hormones, giving you a higher level of anxiety.

Your muscles exist to be used. Exercise not only keeps us physically fit, but it also releases all the feelings and thoughts that we hold in our bodies. We have a physical body state that matches a feeling. It is different for everyone: headaches, backaches, tightness in shoulders and neck. Exercise allows the body to work out those feelings and while the body is doing something repetitious, it also frees the mind to start working on other things, such as problem-solving, organizing, processing events. Exercise can help reduce sleepless nights and nightmares, since this is prime time for the mind to start working, even if you want it to be resting.

Physical Pain
It is difficult to concentrate on other things when dealing with chronic pain. The body is louder than the mind in this case. Do what you can to ease your pain and quiet the body. Spend some time meditating, visualizing the pain and making it different colors to see if the sensations change. See a medical doctor for options to numb the pain. In some cases, the body is sending a message that needs to be heard; see if you can determine what metaphoric clues your body is sending you about your life.

Alcohol, Caffeine, and Other Drugs
Stimulants and depressants add a foreign substance to your mind and body and therefore play a large role in shaping your perspective. The fewer substances you ingest, the clearer your mind will be. If you are already lacking sleep, nutrients, and exercise, these substances will only distort your perceptions further.

The definition of stress is the body's reaction to the environment's demands. Our lives are full of changes and we are required to adapt to those changes. Even positive change is still a demand on the body. Whenever possible, find ways to lower your stress levels. You can do this by keeping all of the above factors in check, as well as employing some time management and organizational skills. When we can free our minds of these demands, we decrease our stress levels.

Try to make a change in at least one of these areas. Your body may respond by giving you a better state of mind.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

On Forgiveness

"Forgiveness offers the possibility of two types of peace: peace of mind -- the potential healing of old emotional wounds, and peace with others -- the possibility of new, more gratifying relationships in the future." -- Kenneth I. Pargament & Mark S. Rye

It can be the hardest thing to do. Yet when we do not forgive, we are choosing to hold on to something that gives us pain and ultimately turns into suffering.

You may feel as though others do not deserve your forgiveness. Ask yourself, "How does the lack of forgiveness affect that other person's life?" Now ask yourself, "How does the lack of forgiveness affect my life?"

Forgiveness has been shown to reduce negative emotions and physical discomforts and increase joy and satisfying relationships. Visit this website to see more research on forgiveness:

Forgiveness is a way to heal.

You do not have to let others know that you have forgiven them. You do not need to become close to others who have caused you pain. These things are your choice. Forgiveness is your choice as well.

Take a moment to sit quietly, close your eyes, picture someone who has hurt you, and grant them forgiveness in your heart. Take another moment to ask for someone's forgiveness. Then take a moment to forgive yourself of something in your past. Notice how you feel after you have done this. If you feel tight, angry, hurt, or resistant, try it again at another time. Forgiveness does not happen in one sitting. It is something to work toward once you are ready. It is also something that you do for no one else but yourself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Your Personal Healing

"Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing, peace is the measure." - Phyllis McGinley

Healing is vital for the path toward peace. We carry old wounds from our past. Sometimes we believe the adage, "Time heals all wounds." It's true, it does require the passing of time to help ease the pain. However, distracting ourselves from the pain does not erase it.

There is another adage, "The only way out is through." This is in reference to our deepest pains. If you find that thinking of something in your past is too painful and that you would rather not even address the issue, that is a sign that you still have healing to do. Avoiding the pain is not the way to end the pain. It will only come back time and time again to remind you that it exists, or perhaps you'll find that other things in your life are aggravating, annoying, or angering. When you experience these feelings, it is an indicator that something else lies beneath. If you have actually healed, your perspective on your old wounds would be much more peaceful.

How do we heal?

Witnessing. Your feelings beg to be seen and heard. They will become peaceful once they have a chance to be validated. There are many ways to bear witness to these old feelings.

Letter writing--you can write a letter to yourself, to your past, to the people in your past. These letters never need to be read by anyone else. If you find that you do want to send them to others, do so without relying on any particular response. Mostly, these letters are meant for you to put on paper and read the words yourself.

Counseling--you can address many feelings and issues with a counselor. Not only will you have an opportunity to allow someone else to witness your emotions, but you can also gain insight and perspective to how all your experiences shape who you are, as well as gaining tools to improve your mental health.

Support--talk with a friend, family member, or loved one, talk with someone on the phone who works for a help line, talk with a pastor or priest, or talk with people in a support group. Find a safe place for you to talk. You may feel as though talking won't help, but in many ways, simply talking is the very best healing.

Some people have found healing in other methods, such as tarot, drumming circles, Reiki, aromatherapy, or crystals. Many times being in nature is an effective way to quiet the mind and soothe pains. Meditation, yoga, Falun Gong, or tai chi can all help us heal our minds through our bodies, since our bodies carry our emotions in physical form.

Continue to explore methods that work best for you. Spend the time on your pains. You are worth every minute.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Acceptance of Self

"It doesn't matter what we do until we accept ourselves. Once we accept ourselves, it doesn't matter what we do." -- Charly Heavenrich

If we can accept ourselves, just as we are, we could eliminate some of our own pain and suffering. This includes the act of forgiveness. Even if we are resistant to forgive others, at the very least, let us forgive ourselves.

Close your eyes and picture yourself without judging anything. Do not think of what's good or bad, do not form an opinion, simply witness yourself as a human being. Witnessing is a vital part of healing old wounds and nurturing growth and change.

You are who you are. Allow yourself to be. You are growing, learning, making mistakes, having emotions, experiencing life.

You are.

Simply be.

Take a couple of deep breaths and say to yourself, "I fully accept myself as I am." Try to do this once a day.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Belief in Yourself

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us." -- Black Elk (1863-1950)

What is stopping you from believing in yourself?

Perhaps you've experienced failure. Does that prevent you from believing that the next time could be a success?

Perhaps you've been told so many negative things by people around you that you begin to believe them. Do not forget that many positive comments also come our way, but we sometimes dismiss these by telling ourselves that people are just trying to be nice.

Let's have consistent logic so that we do not self-sabotage:

1) believe that all comments, positive or negative, have some truth.

2) believe that many people around us are capable of saying positive or negative comments, and can depend on their perspectives, moods, past experiences, etc.

3) believe that we have a right to our own perspectives, opinions, and positive or negative comments about ourselves.

Many of us warp this logic into illogic such as this: all negative comments are true and all positive comments are false. Ask yourself, "How does this benefit me?"

The next step to undoing the illogic: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Even if you do not believe the positive comments, surround yourself with people who deliver them, or deliver them to yourself out loud in the mirror. Why? Because even if you dismiss them at the present moment, your mind records those messages permanently and you will begin to believe them subconsciously.

Attempt to even pretend to believe in yourself and watch it become true over time.

"In you are natural powers. You already possess everything necessary to become Great." -- Chief Crow

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Choice and Belief

These are the two things no one can take from you. Use them.

You have CHOICE. You can choose how you will feel, think, speak, act. How you choose to live your life gives you certain results. If you are not satisfied with the results, change your choice. Your choice can be as simple as choosing your perspective, or choosing to find meaning. We spend a lot of time feeling as though life happens to us. Do not forget your right to choose how you react to life. This choice is yours.

You have BELIEF. It is much like your choice. You can believe what you wish about yourself, your world, your reality. You can choose to change these beliefs throughout your lifetime. What you believe will affect what you perceive, as you will be taking in information that either confirms or opposes your beliefs. Your beliefs will shape who you are and what is in your world.

What will you choose to believe?

Will you choose to believe that peace in your world is possible?

Could that choice in that belief have some impact on how you approach your day?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Power of Falun Gong

Millions of people around the world practice Falun Dafa or Falun Gong. It is a combination of five exercises to be practiced daily and cultivating three things: Compassion, Truthfulness, and Forbearance. All the exercises, music, videos, teachings, and information is available for free to download or available to order on the Falun Dafa website. Falun Gong practitioners will teach beginners for free. People in China are being persecuted for practicing and many of us have the luxury to do what we wish in the safety of our free country. If you want to learn more about the practice or how to end the persecution, please click on one of the links on this blog.

Many people report improved health and calmer peace of mind. Some report even more phenomenal changes for themselves and their loved ones. You may also experience more harmony within your day and fewer struggles and conflicts with schedules or with others. The results vary for each individual.

Try it once to see if you notice a change in your day. Try even one of the five exercises, keeping the three main intentions in mind (Compassion, Truthfulness, Forbearance). Perhaps you will see some benefit, even a minimal ease in your life, and this, too, will become a habit for you.

If Falun Gong isn't your preference, consider yoga, meditation, tai chi, or even walking. Consider how important it is for the mind and body to work together for you to experience peace.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Practicing Mindfulness

"Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances." -- Mahatma Gandhi

This loosely translates to a favorite quote of mine which has an anonymous author, "Peace is not a quiet place; it is what you find in your heart in the midst of chaos."

How do you find that peace? You begin with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being AWARE. Aware of exactly what is happening with you in this very moment. First step: notice your breathing. Notice the sensations in your body. Notice how the air touches your skin. Notice the sounds around you. Be aware of this exact point in time. Focus on this. Center yourself on you and your body.

Your mind spends hours on other things and other points in time, such as the past and the future. Your body spends hours on its regular functions, automatically or by muscle memory. Our bodies store the stress that the mind experiences and many times we are not AWARE of how this daily life is affecting us. We hold our breath or have shallow breathing without realizing it.

Want peace? Take ONE MINUTE to try this exercise. Breathe deeply into your body. Do this when your day is most chaotic. Try it in traffic or waiting in line or even in the bathroom. Give yourself one minute of peace to see how it possibly can affect the minutes following. Maybe you can even spare five minutes in your morning.

Once you begin something, it can become your habit. See how it might possibly change your life a little, and you'll want to continue the habit. Begin your peace right now as you are finished reading this.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Others Speak On Peace

"Peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. "— Albert Einstein

"Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny." -- Frank Outlaw

It is our right and our responsibility to protect this freedom, this peace. Do not think of this as an obligation or a dreaded task. Feel this deep within your heart. It begins with you. Find your peace, and help others find theirs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

So How Do We Do It?

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

We start within. Peace within becomes peace throughout. Making small changes in us then prompts us toward making small changes in our world. Once you begin the habit, you will want to continue it. It is our choice to live our lives. We can choose peace. It can be a slow work in progress. Life itself is a work in progress.

We do it in small steps. We do what we can. Every day we can be doing something. We can give to ourselves and give to others, which continues to spread the peace throughout all.

Check the internet. Ask your friends. Look around you and identify what you wish to be different. Make small changes and you will see it becomes contagious.

Let's begin tackling this seemingly elusive state of peace.