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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

From Drama to Dharma

It's easy to get caught up in the daily drama of our lives. As the Buddhists say, attachment causes suffering. When we're attached to a sense of stability, we can experience unpleasant changes and challenges with intense emotional reactions. As Shakespeare said, we "strut and fret our hour upon the stage," the suffering hero of our own dramatic universe. Feeling sorry for ourselves, we ask "Why is this happening to me? Reacting in fear, isolated in our egos, we can fall into misery, blaming and shaming ourselves and others.


This is drama.


Then there is the Buddhist concept of dharma. With Dharma, we transcend our egos to see more clearly, realizing that we are connected to an infinite and meaningful universe. We can see beyond the current dilemma to learn vital spiritual lessons, discovering a greater sense of purpose.


To connect with dharma, we need to be present with what is happening, stay centered, and listen for guidance. As we deal with the challenges one small step at a time, unexpected blessings can blossom in our lives.


Last week, I discovered this process for myself. When I was pulling into the parking lot to meet two friends for lunch, a warning light came on in my car—"emission system problem/ cooling system problem." Before lunch, I called my local car repair service and left a voice mail for them to call me back. This led to a series of steps.  When I finished my meal, my friends encouraged me to take my car in and said they'd pay the bill when it came. The local service manager helped me make an appointment with the dealer since this was a complex repair. I got a ride the next morning with a friendly AAA driver who towed my car in to the dealer, where I got a free loaner car to use.  Two days later, my car was repaired at no charge because the state pays for emissions systems repairs. I drove my car home, grateful for supportive friends, pleasant surprises, and kind professionals, realizing how my problem was solved with a series of gifts, one small step at a time.


Have you experienced a shift from drama to dharma in your life?

If so, what did you learn?

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Do You Have the Worry Sickness?

How we begin our days can make a major difference in our lives. Lately, I've been waking up thinking of all the things I need to do that day. With thoughts racing through my head, incessant planning, and worrying about all the things that could go wrong.


This is not inner peace.


Do you find yourself incessantly planning, with thoughts racing through your head? Being prepared is one thing. Obsessive planning is something else. It not only makes us feel bad but it's counterproductive, putting us in a stressed-out fight or flight mode, narrowing our perspective, keeping us from thinking clearly and making wise decisions.


If this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Research reports escalating levels of anxiety and depression in the United States and around the world.[1]


But we can shift out of this state and begin reclaiming our peace of mind with this simple practice.


When you feel your mind racing, STOP


  • Focusing on your heart, slowly breathe in
  • Then slowly breathe out in a longer exhale, feeling the stress leave your body flowing out through your toes.
  • Take another slow deep breath, breathing into your heart
  • Then exhale slowly, releasing any tension.
  • Take a third slow deep breath, breathing into your heart
  • Then exhale slowly, releasing any more tension.
  • Now ask yourself, "What am I feeling?"
  • Pause and focus on what you've been feeling, offering yourself care and compassion.
  • Then ask, "What do I need?" (physically, emotionally, or spiritually)
  • And finally, ask, "What can I do?" (This can be anything from taking a break to step outside, have a meal, exercise, check in with a wise friend or counselor, or something else).


Remember that you have the power to shift from stress to greater peace of mind.


I wish you joy in the process.




[1] World Health Organization. (2022, March 2). COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide


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