A Place Not Far Away At All

I once believed peace a place far away, a land I would never know. I had too many bad habits, too many questions. How could I find time for peace?

Turns out peace is available in every moment, always an option. My choice. No two moments are alike so accepting and accessing peace lasts a lifetime.

I choose Zen as my practice but peace is not picky. There is no one way to peace and for every way there is an open shore.

Initially, I thought if I meditated every day for five minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour I would know stillness. Not exactly. I was still assigning peace a label.

Sometimes, I sit in stillness but the whir of thought–chaos–is more my meditative state. Mine is mindfulness meditation rather than transcendental. I meditate in the moment just as it is.

Remnants of that meditative state are what I bring into my day, sitting in the seat of self, as the emotion of the day–the chaos–plays out. Rather than judging, I find strength, something I once sought outside myself.

There is peace in such trust of the self. It takes the fear out of emotions. Within, I let them rage until I discover what it is they are really about. They are remarkable tools, emotions.

To let the storm rage is to sit in the safety of the self. Then and only then am I able to make a mindful response rather than getting tangled up in self-righteousness. The world does not need any more of that.

I have an increasing appreciation for the singularity of the candle, its flame stands brightly no matter the odds. At some point every wick gives way to a puddle of wax.

That doesn’t sound very reassuring or peaceful but it is, I suspect. To find stillness in the middle of chaos–to sit in the eye of the storm–is to know peace.

It’s the hardest thing I ever do, living in the present moment. Maybe it’s the only worthwhile thing I’ve ever tried.

Fear gives way to mindfulness. It puddles up. It simply is no match for mindfulness. I am not sure what is.

From what I know of history, worldwide mindfulness is one weapon we have not leashed upon the world. If we had, we would know.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, ”We cannot continue in this paralyzing mistrust…another spirit must enter into the people….” Exactly.

Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön said if we ”want to effect change it is not through self-righteous anger.” No, it is not.

What might this other spirit look like? How else to navigate the chaos that is the life experience?

It is not as if the demands of the day line up neatly. They sail in from everywhere. Some are arrows that wound deep. Others are boomerangs, visits from previous poor choices, demanding yet another decision.

It is up to me decide every day, confining myself to what is and not what might be or is no more. That is the focus of trust–peace–perhaps lasting no longer than my next breath.

It’s not how long it lasts but that it is always available. For me, that is Zen—easy, uneasy.

Thursday Tidbits: The Art of Peace

This week’s Thursday Tidbits is the Bloggers for Peace monthly post, specifically the art of peace.  The art of peace begins within ourselves and radiates outward into every relationship we have, in particular those relationships that for one reason or another are askew or gone awry.forpeace6

To renew a relationship begins with intention, although to re-open our heart is often difficult. That is why the art of peace begins within, for when we are at peace with ourselves is when we re-connect to serve all.

In order to start, Pema Chödrön maintains it is not such a great effort to once again establish a relationship that serves, if we will just consider that a commitment we once made is now broken.


It means we have to let go of the story we’ve been telling ourselves–the why, the what, the how, or who– and just acknowledge “…that we hardened our heart and closed our mind, that we shut someone out. And then we can retake our vow. On the spot—or as a daily practice—we can reaffirm our intention to keep the door open to all sentient beings for the rest of our life” (Pema Chödrön).

Everyday life, no matter how we approach it, is a practice that requires patience, especially when we do not seem to notice any progress within ourselves or within the world.

There are four emotions that never involve the ego—compassion, gratitude, joy, and love—these four ways have many other names including the four agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz that ask us to be “impeccable” in our speech, not to take whatever occurs personally, to be present in all we do so we are not assuming anything about anyone for when we are present, we are doing the best we can.

The art of peace is available to us in every moment we have for each moment is free from any attachment to what has been or what might be. That we affirm our intention to be the best we can be and live with true compassion for ourselves and others in every moment is what keeps peace always within our grasp. It begins with being present.


“That’s the training of the spiritual warrior, the training of cultivating courage and empathy, the training of cultivating love. It would be impossible to count the number of beings in the world who are hurting, but still we aspire to not give up on any of them and to do whatever we can to alleviate their pain” (Pema Chödrön).

In alleviating that pain we must remember the key to the art of peace: the idea of serving rather than helping or fixing anyone or anything. It is only in serving that we view ourselves and our connection to all life as whole, not broken or weak.

When we are clear in our intention of serving, we are open to what is available for all of us. The art of peace is a celebration of the diversity that makes up the whole, an acknowledgment that uniqueness is necessary for completeness.

Here are links to other Bloggers for Peace and their consideration of the art of peace:

Kozo Hattori: Art Thou Peaceful 

Bodhisattva In Training: The Art of Peace

Grandma Lin: May Post for Peace

The Seeker: Peace is Like a River

Caron Dann: Recreationist Theory

Card Castles in the Sky: Float Upward

One of my favorite combinations of the art of lyrics, music, and painting is this well-known video featuring the music and lyrics of Don McLean and Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.