“When we’re at peace with ourselves, we can see more clearly, act more effectively, bring greater harmony to our relationships and greater peace to our world.”
—Diane Dreher, Ph.D.
Today, I’m very excited to share several wonderful essays with you on the topic of inner peace by author Diane Dreher, Ph.D. These essays are excerpted from her article “Inner Peace: The Path with Heart,” which was previously published at SoulfulLiving.com.
Diane is the author of “The Tao of Inner Peace,” in which she translates the ancient Eastern philosophy of Taoism into a plan for contemporary living. She is also the author of “The Tao of Womanhood: Ten Lessons for Power and Peace.”
Her article offers many meaningful and easy-to-implement methods for integrating the teachings of the Tao into daily living to create more peaceful and balanced lives. I hope you enjoy it ♥
Peace Begins Within
We can begin to transform our world by first transforming ourselves. This cannot be accomplished by merely reading or thinking about peace. Living the Tao is more than an intellectual exercise. It is the path with heart.
The Chinese character x_ n means both mind and heart, the source of all thought, feeling, and motivation. Following the Tao, there is no inner split, no agonizing struggle between head and heart, no discord or division in spirit. For, quite simply, when we are divided within ourselves, we cannot be at peace.
Instead of waiting for the right guru or political leader to bring us the peace we seek, the Tao asks us to take responsibility for our lives, to follow its mindful blend of action and contemplation. Through a shift of attitude, we can begin to experience greater peace right now.
Focus on Your Feelings
As strange as it seems, many of us get so busy, we lose touch with our feelings. Or we try to force ourselves to feel what we “should” feel, our hearts and minds going off in different directions. This builds up tremendous internal tension and undermines our peace.
- Take a moment to ask yourself, “Where am I not at peace?” Focus on this area.
- Whatever situation or feelings come up, acknowledge them. Take another deep breath and focus on what you feel.
- Then breathe in compassion for yourself. Love yourself whatever you’re feeling whether it is pain, frustration, exhaustion, anger, or disappointment. Breathe into your feelings and slowly surround yourself with the warm, healing light of love.
- Say to yourself silently, “I love and accept myself right now.”
After acknowledging where you are not at peace, gently shift your attention to what peace feels like. The simplest way is to breathe out tension and breathe in peace.
Breathe in Peace
- Relax, take a deep breath, and say to yourself as you breathe in, “Breathe in Peace.” Remember the last time you felt a deep sense of peace and oneness. Let that feeling flow through your body.
- Breathe out any fear, confusion, insecurity, or whatever is troubling you.
- When you feel relaxed, affirm, “I choose to live in Peace.”
Your conscious choice opens up new possibilities for a more peaceful life. As you draw upon the infinite source of peace within, new insights will come to you, perhaps now, perhaps later. But know that with these simple steps you have already begun a powerful process of renewal.
The Tao of Self-Acceptance
Many of us are not at peace because at some deep level, we do not accept ourselves. While trying to fit someone else’s expectations, we go against the grain, defying our own nature. The natural wisdom of Tao calls us back to ourselves. In the natural world everything is valuable, everything has its place. Only human beings suffer from low self-esteem. A rose, a daisy, a lark, a squirrel–each manifests its potential differently, yet beautifully. Each form has its own expression, each flower its own fragrance, each bird its own song.
The Tao of Personal Balance
We can bring greater peace to our lives by maintaining our own personal balance. Each day we meet our physical needs: eating and sleeping at regular intervals. People who follow the Tao also make time for spiritual renewal. If we neglect our bodies, they become imbalanced and break down. If we neglect our spiritual needs, we become emotionally imbalanced and our world breaks down in continual conflict.
There are many ways to nurture our spirits from traditional religious practice to regular meditation, devotional reading, or quiet walks in nature. Some people find spiritual renewal weaving tapestries, singing, or working in their gardens. What nourishes you? Remember to nurture your spirit this way on a regular basis.
Most spiritual practice takes us away from the noisy, busy outside world, returning us to the center of peace deep within us. Moments of reflection enable our roots to go deep to the source, drawing upon the infinite power and wisdom of Tao. This month, remember to give yourself the gift of peace by following your favorite spiritual practice, cultivating periods of contemplation, and taking short “inner peace breaks,” to breathe in peace and listen to your heart.
Seeking the Silence
Taking time for contemplation may seem like self-indulgence when we’re caught up in a busy rush of activities. Yet it’s one of the most responsible things we can do. When we’re confused and uncentered, we make foolish choices, over commit ourselves, and project inner conflicts into the world around us. When we’re at peace with ourselves, we can see more clearly, act more effectively, bring greater harmony to our relationships and greater peace to our world.
The early Taoists revered tortoises because they know when to withdraw unto themselves, when to restore their energy. Thus, they live to an advanced age. Believed to have mysterious powers, tortoise shells were used in divination, inspiring the hexagram patterns of the I Ching. We can cultivate inner peace by following the lesson of the tortoise, setting aside brief periods for peace and renewal.
For most of us this means seeking out times of silence. Gandhi kept a day of silence once a week. No matter what happened or who came to visit, he would spend that day quietly, communicating to others only in writing. Most of us are unable to maintain an entire day of silence, but we can establish regular periods of meditation…
Copyright Diane Dreher, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
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Wishing you a peaceful, mindful day!!
Valerie Rickel, Founder