A candle for peace

The second candle of Advent, represents peace. Peace is one of my favorite words. But anyone could be forgiven for giving up on peace. It only seems to come dropping slow in Yeat’s poem, Lake Isle of Innisfree.

From as long as I can remember, the world has been praying for peace; peace in our country, peace in other countries, peace in our communities and peace in our hearts.  In fact, it seems there is always some part of the world in chaos, the kind of stuff that pulls at your emotions—countries at war, mass murder, and the devastating natural forces that wipe out thousands and rip countries apart. Then there are the stories closer to home—the breaking news story of a fatal car crash, animal cruelty, the homeless dying on the street—and stories in our communities, an  illness, a diagnosis, a marriage ending, alcoholism tearing families apart, job loss causing anxiety stress and pain for all concerned.  Where is the peace in it all?

There are so many ups and downs in life that I used to think inner peace can only be achieved by monks or individuals living a reclusive life that doesn’t belong to anyone or doesn’t have to deal with everyday struggles. But that’s ridiculous. We are all connected, no man is an island. Besides, I’ve changed my mind. Peace is possible in the middle of chaos if we choose it to be. Mostly it’s an inside job.  Some things that have helped me find inner peace include:

Believing I am not alone

I’m not sure what it would be like to live through life without feeling spiritually connected to something greater than ourselves but I don’t think it would be any easier. Quite frankly, I really don’t care if I’m met at the pearly gates and told I’ve been duped. It’s working for me now so I’m not going to knock it!

Challenging my thoughts.

Thoughts can take over our lives if we let them. They are usually fear-based and judgmental. Most of us struggle through life unconsciously accepting that we are our thoughts but if we challenge thoughts by observing how we feel we can choose a different thought that will probably reflect more accurately how we really feel.

Choosing kind.

By choosing kindness, we allow positive energy to flow from us to others and prevent negative energy from reaching us or infusing situations. In this way, we create and maintain a connection to our higher selves. And, realize just how good it feels to be kind.

Accepting what is.

Perhaps the key to feeling real peace is being able to accept what is. As soon as we become judgmental about a situation or a person—their words or behaviour—we know we have moved away from accepting what is, by wanting to control what is outside of us. Knowing that the only person we can change is ourselves enables us to do this.

There is a lot of negative energy and craziness in this world, but if your intention is strong and comes from the deepest part of you, it will happen. Peace comes from making changes inside you, regardless of what challenges life brings.

I came across this quote I read in a book recently, ‘We bring peace to the world when we bring peace to our world.’ So during this second week of Advent, in the middle of the preparing and planning don’t forget to make room in your heart for a little peace.