This essay appears in my second book, Moving the Mountain
Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
We all seek peace. It is human nature to want to be comfortable within ourselves. When we make the decision to become sober, it is often peace that ranks high among the reasons. Our addictive behaviors prevent us from being at peace with ourselves or with others, and we yearn for it. The very act of putting down that which we are addicted to brings us the first taste of that inner calm; it becomes one of the things we strive for as we grow in our New Life.
But peace is a tricky thing. It is easy to see it as something external to be attained, and in viewing it this way we place a sturdy obstacle in the path of obtaining it. If something is external, it can never be truly achieved. We must make it a part of us for it to come within our reach. Peace exists within us all at this very moment. When we seek it elsewhere, we are merely reinforcing a mistaken belief that it is something we are lacking when in fact it is something waiting to be discovered already within us.
I am especially guilty of this outward-seeking view of peace. I do not feel at peace with myself now, so it is easy to assume that it does not exist within me and must be somewhere 'out there'. I have spent the last twenty years searching for an external set of circumstances that will allow me to be at peace with myself. What I have come to understand is that peace cannot be found outside of myself, only within my own being.
Look inside yourself; has there never been a moment when you felt truly at peace? We have all experienced it, but its transitory state has made it easy to believe that the external situation is what brought the feeling about. This is not completely true. A situation may allow us to glimpse the peace that is within us, but it is our own minds which created the sensations of calm and satisfaction, not the outside world. We create our reactions to life; it is our own energy which brings peace.
Knowing this, we can look at how to cultivate the sense of peace that already exists within us. Once we do this, we can be calm and peaceful in any situation. But how do we achieve this? The first step is accepting that we are capable of being in a state of true acceptance within ourselves no matter where we are externally. We must accept that we are worthy of being peaceful. We are enough, we have enough, and we do enough. It is easy, especially during the holidays, to try and take on too much. We fall into the trap of believing that being busy will distract us from the things going on in our lives that we do not like, and instead find that we have over-committed and have no time to breathe. We can't be peaceful when we are so overwhelmed.
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of peace. We can retake that peace even amidst the hustle and bustle if we make time for it. During meditation, focus on your inner peace; what puts you in that calm state? Practice bringing up those thoughts during your daily devotional. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, use that practice to allow you to draw upon the energy within you that brings a sense of calm. In the midst of crisis, think peace. It seems too simple, but it works; a deep breath and a mental image of calm can diffuse a great deal of negative energy. But it takes practice.
Here is a technique I learned for creating an inner sanctuary. Close your eyes and envision a place that brings you great calm. Now, while focusing on the detail of that place, begin tapping your shoulders lightly and rhythmically. Get into the fine descriptions of your peaceful location, the sights, smells, and sounds of it. Do this for a few minutes on a regular basis. Then, when you are under stress and feel the need to calm yourself, close your eyes and again tap your shoulders. You will be taken to your sanctuary, where you can breathe and experience the peace flowing through you.
Do not stop searching for ways to eliminate stress and negativity from your life, but do not confuse this with seeking peace; peace is yours already. In the midst of struggle, your thoughts and your energy can be calm and relaxed. You are worth the peaceful feelings you carry within you. Be the positive energy flowing through you. Be peace.