August 9, 2015
In my last post I explored the importance of choosing whether you want war or peace. Let’s look at what to do if you choose peace.
Sadly, you can’t will peace to happen, no matter how strong your will or how much you want it. But you can help it along. Peace for me seems to arrive more as a moment than as a place I stay. It happens when I soften. I can literally feel a shift in my body, my mind, and my emotional temperature when it happens. It’s a softening of everything, especially my heart. A disarming of my defenses–my concretized beliefs and judgments, conscious and unconscious–that represent my resistance to what just happened.
I want it a lot, that softness. Because when it happens, when my heart is soft, it can open. And as Susan Piver has said: “When my heart opens, the world changes”.
That moment, that space, when my heart is soft and open, is the fullest freedom I’ve ever known.
So here’s what I do. I wait. I wait for the next time you say something I don’t like, or I get caught in the rain before a party, or I’ve gained three pounds after eating all the right things…and then I practice. I soften. I drop my shoulders, soften my eyes, and my jaw and my throat and I move down to see if my belly is tight, and it always seems to be, and I soften that too. Then I wait to see what comes. More blaming, numbing, avoiding, justifying, rationalizing, minimizing, feeling pity for everyone else, all the habitual reactions that I fall into when I’m not ready to look at myself, feel what I’m feeling, take responsibility for my own discomfort.
And I soften again, and again, and again. Bringing my attention back to me and my body, to the here and now, to seeing my part, not yours, I come back to myself. Then for a brief moment, I’m free of suffering. Until something else to resist shows up, and I’m off to the races.
I don’t expect to get to a point where I won’t have internal temper tantrums or won’t be triggered and feel hurt, angry, scared–or that I’ll achieve some degree of arriving or enlightenment. Yet as I keep softening, over and over, I taste those fleeting moments of freedom more often. And for now that’s good–really, really good–and enough.