‘Eye of the Storm” oil on canvas, Beki
This has week has been utterly exhausting emotionally and mentally, as we and many more in the Caribbean, Florida and the South Eastern US have been watching the strongest biggest storm on record to plough its way through the waters crushing islands and threatening our safety, stuff and peace of mind.
Peace of mind is what I really want to address here. How do we cultivate an aptitude to inner peace, so that when life’s hurricanes, literally or figuratively, threaten our wellbeing, we are able to respond from peace rather than fear? Today is 9/11, an infamous day here in the US when the Twin Towers in New York City were reduced to rubble after 2 planes intentionally flew into them. It was shocking and devastating and rocked the sense of security Americans had felt in regards to such attacks. It shattered a collective sense of comfort and maybe a false peace of mind. 911 are the number we dial to call for HELP.
How can we dial directly to the help that taps into the peace of mind that allows us to weather any storm that life delivers to us? Yesterday, in the midst of this whole experience of preparing for Hurricane Irma that was slowly turning west away from us, revealing that the personal threat to our town and home would be minimal, I grappled with my own inner storm. I woke up at 3 am to find my two sons and nephew ‘mesmerized’ in playing computer games together. It triggered a mini storm in my head that I seemed incapable of quelling. My initial internal venting entailed feelings of anger, indignation, irritation, hopelessness for humanity and the obsession with these glowing screens that give us this false sense of connection with each other, but actually rob us of the connection with the organic world of human contact and the beautiful earth we inhabit. Yes I went there! As a mother of 3 sons I have grappled with this feeling of frustration around the whole issue of video games and such for 20 years. It has definitely been one of those reoccurring concerns/thorns that has contributed to taking away my Inner Peace, uncountable times. Needless to say, the inner storm amidst the outer storm robbed me of much needed sleep.
I don’t want to focus so much on the issue of glowing screens here. What I am really interested in is the inner storms that can be triggered by thousands of stressful thoughts. Usually the thought is aligned with fear. Certainly the discomfort felt in preparing for a hurricane and watching the media coverage around the storm has the potential to cause as much angst as riding out the storm itself. It is the projection of a devastating future, fear future, that grips us. With the modern conveniences of glowing screens 24 hours a day, we have this thought that somehow we can control the outcomes by listening to the confusing, mixed messages offered, whether it is about the weather or diseases or politics. We cling to the messages hoping they will provide us with the guidance that will solve the problems that face humanity. Secretly we wish for the guidance to quell the storm in our mind, possibly even more than the condition that is causing it. Of course the true guidance we seek can only be found in the silencing of the fear-based chatter and to go to the True Source of all solutions.
Suffering stems from the thoughts, not the reality. I have suffered on and off this past week as we navigated the information about this outer storm. There were times I was able to consciously focus on peace and stayed away from the media as much as possible, but still would catch wind of fearful frequencies. Well, how could I miss them. The frequencies of the fear blew as strong as Irma’s winds. We are challenged to find a way to the inner peace, the ‘I’ of the storm, that is serene amongst the mayhem of life. This is the greatest challenge of the times, I feel. The distractions are unbelievable! How can we cultivate this Inner Peace instead of feed the fire of the Inner Storm?
While I do not know what the ultimate answer is for that question, I do know that I am on a journey of answering that for myself. Each of us needs to find our own way. It is the awareness and intention that is the first step. As we become aware of the source of our inner storm as the thoughts we think, than we realize that we can intentionally redirect the thoughts. What activity or practice can support you in redirecting thoughts? I walk in nature. I write, I paint. Sometimes meditation helps. Going to sleep is miraculous. What calms your storm? What nurtures the scared inner child? What soothes you back into alignment with the Source of your True Self?
‘Peace’, oil on canvas, by Beki
When I align with Love, with the Divine, with my Inner Being, the unlimited, eternal Self I feel a deep joyful peace. When I feel this peace, I do not feel fear. The two emotions cannot abide together. I recently heard a zen monk say, ” To be fearless really is actually being peaceful.” Unconditional Love is really being able to stay aligned with Love regardless of the conditions. Unconditional Peace, Joy, Love. This is the practice that brings freedom.
When I am able to live more and more from this cultivated, intentional place of unconditional Love, Peace and Joy then not only do I benefit from this freedom, but I have a chance to affect Peace in the world around me, one person at a time. My very presence will then have the potential to quell the storm within another, and another and another.