Edition Eighteen

Creating Peace in the Midst of Chaos

It is 8:15 AM.

Your three kids are still not dressed the school bus will be at your door in ten minutes.

You can't find your shoes and the dog still needs to be walked.

Or, traffic is tied up for miles and you are missing a doctor's appointment that you tried to get for seven months. Maybe you are finally able to have some quiet time to yourself. You sit down with a nice cup of herbal tea, a good book and fuzzy slippers. But, no matter how hard you try you can't relax. What is going on? Well, life is knocking at your door. Despite our best intentions we can't always control our circumstances. The news is bad, the neighbors fight and your job isn't what you thought. When life is chaotic how can you relax?

Peace: A state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation; calm; repose. I do not know anyone who feels especially peaceful at this moment. If we went by the dictionary definition, peace may not seem an attainable state during these troubled times:

Here are some helpful tips to relieve stress and create peace.

Self Care: When the world is in chaos your own world may seem unbalanced. Taking care of ourselves goes a long way to maintaining a calm state of mind. There are enough studies to prove that stress has a negative effect. A healthy body does translate into a happier state of mind. When one feels stressed, taking care of the body gets lost. Make sure you are eating healthful meals. Get plenty of rest and exercise. Reach out to people in your community if you are feeling alone or afraid. Create support groups, establish a phone or email network to keep in contact with other people who may be feeling vulnerable during a stressful time.

Honor Your Feelings: In stressful time's many mixed emotions emerge. Try not to let them overwhelm you. Emotions are emotions they come and they go. Nonetheless, they are yours and the moment they show up on your doorstep you have something to say about them. In the middle of personal or worldwide crisis, it is OK to feel upset, feel afraid, or sad. The idea is not to let the feelings rule you, but to learn from what they reveal about you. If emotions threaten to get the best of you talk to a trusted friend, therapist or clergyperson.

Develop a spiritual/meditation practice: Drawn to the urgent news of the day, we may forget how important it is to have some quiet time. During a time of crisis, our very existence comes into question and our lives may seem threatened. Taking time to be alone with our thoughts and feelings is a valuable tool to developing a strong foundation for living. The Sabbath can be valued part of a spiritual practice, or, it can be the best excuse to turn off the TV. If you can slow the pace down you will find a sense of peace naturally emerges. You begin to discover the rhythm of your body, discovering what you really need. You will eat when hungry, drink when thirsty and wake when rested. If a whole day off causes to much stress begin with a couple of hours. Take the phone off the hook, kick back and relax. Begin and end each with some quiet time. Take time to write, pray or just be reflective. Remember to breath. Breathing relieves stress and energizes the spirit

Cultivate Loving Kindness: When we meet the stranger, we have a few choices. We can run fight or, we can love. Love does not mean the acceptance of an evil action but learning to love the person behind that act. Jesus said, “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and love thy neighbor as thyself.” If you cannot treat yourself with forgiveness and compassion then it is difficult to extend it to others. Through the act of loving-kindness, we can practice creating peace.

Universal Responsibility: In Ethics for the New Millennium, The Dalai Lama asserts that creating contentment is critical for the welfare of the universal community. When content, you cannot sow the seeds of envy, greed or resentment. We are part of the global family. We can no longer ignore the world because it is knocking loudly on our door. As part of the universal community it is our responsibility to first take care of ourselves, practice and embody peace offering it to world. The steps are simple: treat our neighbors and ourselves with loving-kindness. Each small act of love has broad implications. Before you start the day, be thankful for what you have, even if it is just a bed to sleep in and water running from a faucet. Practice peace and peace will come to you.

By Sandra Lee Schubert