Finding Your Center in Challenging Times
Recent tragedies in the United States and around the world have shaken our confidence and filled the airwaves with fear. Many have responded with a call for heightened aggression, focusing on our differences and magnifying fear.
I prefer to focus on spreading love, light, and peace to the extent that I am able, rather than focusing on all of the tragic events occurring here and around the world.
Peace and justice begin in our hearts and minds—and finding peace allows me to spread peace and compassion outwardly. Peace does not come from yelling and screaming at the top of our voices. It comes from within.
In a world of instant access/instant news coverage, mass shootings, terror, and war, how do you find (and keep) your center?
I find several practices contribute to my inner peace and help me hold my center:
- Mindfulness meditation practice — I don’t practice every day but I do meditate regularly and find that it helps me to let go of stress and fear and embrace inner peace.
- Limiting television/social media/listening to news coverage — While I want to know what’s going on in the world, I find that a little bit of news goes a long way. I don’t listen to the pundits expressing their opinions, surf the web for news and commentary, or stay “plugged in” 24/7. I find I enjoy reading far more than watching most television shows, movies, or videos.
- Looking for stories and news about kindness, compassion, generosity — Hearing about the good that is happening inspires me and motivates me to be more kind, compassionate, and generous.
- Getting out in nature always lifts me up and makes me feel hopeful. The trees in the woodlands teach me about patience and endurance. The seasons teach me about the cycles of beginnings, middles, and endings that endlessly repeat. The creatures help me experience oneness with all there is.
- Limiting material consumption — We live in a time of instant gratification, yet all too often the things we instantly acquire do not bring true satisfaction. Other things like our connections with friends and family, the desire to be helpful, and doing what we love create lives of purpose and meaning, not acquiring more and more stuff.
- Following joy — For the past few years I have been paying close attention to the things which bring me joy and doing more of them, just because they bring me joy. I have learned that discovering joy requires careful listening to my heart and body. Paradoxically, listening to my mind often steers me away from joy, but listening to how I feel in my body when I do something shows me clearly where my joy lies.
- Practicing mindful yoga — Paying attention to my breath in my body, focusing on softening and relaxing muscles that aren’t being used for a pose, relaxing into each pose deeply—all these things help me find my center.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” — Arundhati Roy, Keynote address at World Social Forum 2003
In this season of finding light amidst the darkness — candles glowing in the window, the star in the sky leading the way to a baby born in a manger, the returning of the light at Winter Solstice — find your way to your center through one or more practices that help you find inner peace.
May you walk in beauty.