Many of us are at war with ourselves and one another. Our days are filled with stress We spend our days in competition, confrontation, and frustration, driven by the fear that we're "not good enough." With our politics divided, environment imbalanced, and future uncertain, we wrestle with each new set of challenges and each new crisis on the daily news.
Yet the timeless wisdom of the Tao Te Ching offers a simple, transformational path to peace. Instead of waiting for the latest self-help celebrity or political leader to save us, the Tao asks us to take mindful responsibility for our lives. Through a shift in attitude, we can begin experiencing greater peace right now. Then, as our vision expands to reveal the larger patterns, we can bring greater peace to the world around us, one step at a time.
Where are you not at peace? Do any of these statements sound familiar?
- I'm not at peace in my body. It's too fat or too thin, too short, too tall, too young, too old. It breaks down, knots up in tension, gets tired, stressed, run down, and sick. I feel anxious, conflicted, and powerless.
- I'm not at peace in my career. It's filled with demands, deadlines, mindless routine, obnoxious people, and one problem after another. I feel stressed, nervous, trapped, angry and fearful or bored and unfulfilled.
- I'm not at peace in my relationships. I can't be myself with the ones I love. I feel obligated, trapped, bored, dominated, manipulated, anxious, and off-balance.
- I'm not at peace in my finances. I'm worried about money, overwhelmed by bills and obligations. There's never enough to go around. I feel anxious, fearful, and insecure.
- I'm not at peace with myself. My life is filled with compulsive working, eating, shopping, drinking, or drugs to fill up the emptiness inside. I feel frustrated, guilty, and confused
- I'm not at peace with my world. I'm filled with anxiety and mistrust, seeing people from a different race, religion, or political party as enemies. I'm afraid of the future, seeing our country, economy, and environment deteriorating. I hide behind busyness, numbness, or cynicism, feeling powerless to make a difference.
Now choose one difficult area of your life to begin transforming into greater peace.
- First, remember a time when you felt a deep sense of peace and oneness—in communion with nature, meditation, involvement in a creative process, or a special time with someone you love. Take a deep breath as you recall that experience.
- Say to yourself, "Breathe in Peace" as you breathe in that deep sense of peace and oneness, flowing like a relaxing wave through your body. Breathe out any fear, confusion, insecurity--whatever has been troubling you. When you feel more relaxed, affirm to yourself, "I Now Live in Peace."
- Think of that difficult area again. Only now see it transformed into greater peace and harmony. How would it look like and feel like? Ask yourself, "What is one small step I can take to move toward this vision of peace?" Could you get more information, consider your options, call a friend, do something you've wanted to do but keep putting off, sign up for a class, begin a mindfulness or exercise practice, write or call your congressional representative, volunteer for a cause you believe in? How can you follow your heart to step out of the shadows and into the light? See yourself taking that step, affirming to yourself, "I Now Live in Peace."
- Then take that step, creating a new positive momentum with the wisdom of Tao which tells us that:
A tree that reaches past your embrace
Springs from one small seed.
A building over nine stories high
Begins with a handful of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles
Begins with a single step.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64