These past several months, we all have experienced the same event, but we haven’t all experienced it in the same way. So much of how we see and experience life is developed over time; how we grew up, messages we received, things we questioned, what we feel, how we feel… I have studied many versions of the same thing, Feng Shui, Yoga, Reiki, Buddhism, Taoism, Native healing and they all lead to revealing peace within ourselves. In life, our ontology, our way of being, is sometimes overlooked. In my Native studies, the beautiful elder would speak in a way that always challenged how I thought or interpreted words. The first time I heard her say “how you be”, I caught myself with the proper English narrative, when in reality that phrase was showing me this link to our personal state of being. Now may be the time for us to reflect on how are we BEING in this world. I know personally I have had moments in life where the “doing” of life felt so consuming. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is learning how to navigate from a peaceful inner world.
Right now, we may feel the turbulence and chaos of things out of our control. I suggest allowing this time to act as an internal assessment for yourself and bringing to the surface things like thoughts or beliefs, habits, emotions etc. you may no longer need or the parts of you that need to be uncovered once again. It may guide you to seeing where some growth is needed, where peace has been hiding, or where connection has been missing. I see it as when we clean a messy room, we drag out the clutter and the room appears a lot messier and sometimes overwhelming. With attention and care, we select the things we want to save and by the end, the room feels nice and neat and usually a bit lighter. We recently went through our own personal transformation as a family. We started to look at what causes stress and things in our life that no longer serve us, that didn’t invite peace within, didn’t lift us higher. We decided it was time for us to make changes in many areas of life. Not all change needs to be drastic, nor does it rely on external upheaval, but for us, a fresh start was needed. Also, we can not rely solely on external changes…if we never do the internal work, the “new” external thing will still be seen with the same perspective that created the desire for “new”. As I mentioned earlier, no one experiences life in the same way, so there is no set guideline to revealing peace. So much of my work is one on one so it can be personalized and each person learn what it feels like to experience moments of calm, peace, gratitude and much more. When it is truly experienced, that becomes the internal guidance. When we listen to that internal guidance, we begin to see life from a more clear perspective. Ultimately, we find the courage and strength to seek within during times of stress and uncertainty, no longer giving external factors influence.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my path of studies I will share how I found my way. In college, I technically studied criminal justice, political science and legal studies. I personally created a concentration in restorative justice, the strict punitive narrative didn’t align with me. I was always searching for ways of connecting to reduce recidivism and how to teach personal growth to break the cycle. During those studies, I was introduced to Native practices such as circling and types of communication that truly reach people to their core, as I would say, their soul. Shortly after college, I found the ancient art of Feng Shui as I went through a time of reflection and growth in my own life. Feng Shui is misunderstood by many, assuming it is simply designing our external world and, poof, life is better. It is so much more than that, it takes the internal interpretation of certain life areas and addresses the impact it has on our external world and vice versa. Sometimes certain areas get all the attention like relationships and money. Typically, the other areas such as wisdom, health, reputation, creativity don’t get attention. However, they have a major impact on the other areas. Feng Shui is a practice to evaluate where you are in life and where you may need to participate by taking an active approach to making change. After having children and allowing the “doing” of life get unbearable, I was lead to a yoga training. Yoga for me personally is so much deeper than the physical act of exercise. I loved and studied yoga philosophy intensely eventually leading me back to the University setting. Over the years, I have learned in structured school settings, but also pursued learning from courses and teachers that truly passed wisdom down like ancient practices did before.
I will share a few techniques and bits of wisdom that seem to always have a place in life:
Anekantavada, a Sanskrit word from the Jain tradition, meaning many sidedness or theory of perspective. During our current affairs, this may be very helpful to implement as a checks and balances for how we perceive what is happening. We don’t know what we don’t know and in this tradition, it was encouraged to ask questions and find out how and why people see things the way they do. Personal views may alter with more information or that internal guidance may show that you are comfortable in your personal view. The key is being open, not rigged and fixed on your view.
Chuang Tzu, a Daoist philosopher that I continue to study, offers a strategy of looking at communication without holding onto the words. If certain words are triggering feelings, we may miss the message all together. Another practice is the ability to take a view point from an observer role. Witness a situation from an outside-looking-in view and see if your perspective changes.
Yoga is about stopping the fluctuations of the mind to reach moments of peace in order gain clarity. Mind chatter has the potential to create situations that may never come to fruition, it sometimes works us up more than reality, and sometimes we have a whole dialogue decided before an event even takes place. All of those scenarios take us out of the present moment. Yoga uses the body and breath as tools to focus the mind and prepare for long stretches of meditation to allow the wisdom to surface without interruption from discomforts.
In Buddhism, the practice is to alleviate suffering. It is taught to question everything and never have blind faith, again, looking for the internal guidance of “is this right for me”. There can be many right ways, but following what is right for someone else may be the wrong path for yourself. The term “mindfulness” is wide known in current life. This is an extrapolation of one prong from the Eightfold path of Buddhism. My personal interpretation of practicing mindfulness without the other 7 may cause more suffering by using a sense of control that goes against the natural flow. Sometimes, releasing effort leads to peace… surrendering to divine guidance (in Sanskrit “isvara pranidhana”).
Let us take pause and see how our emotions and our state of being filter our mind because the mind has the ability to create our experience of life. Even during the worst of times, let's be practiced enough to find clarity and peace!
If anyone has been struggling or needs some good rest and self-care, please reach out… it is time to start feeling GOOD no matter what is happening in the outside world!!