Peace is a Choice

“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 these things and still be calm in your heart.” (Unknown)

The unknown individual, to whom this quote is attributed, had a great perspective about what “please” means. I imagine they knew how to get to that place of peace within them and what it meant to be calm in their heart.

What does it mean to be calm in your heart? How do you get to that place within you amidst the noise, trouble, and hard work around you?

To me, being calm in my heart is an experience of INNER PEACE. When I am calm in my heart, I feel peaceful. It also means to be OK with what is… That means being OK with what is happening around me, what is happening to me, and what is happening within me – and doing so without judging anything as bad or wrong, noisy or hard.

Accepting what is, as it is, allows me to be at peace. I think this is what the quote is alluding to. No matter what is going on around you, you can still choose Peace.

Peace is a choice. My intention today is to share with you a simple 3-step process to experience greater peace in your mind and calm in your heart. This simple mindfulness practice will assist you in dropping into your heart, or what DBT calls Wise Mind.

But before I do, it is important to first establish a few things:

  1. Suffering begins in the MIND, with our thoughts, beliefs, opinions, judgments, and perceptions. We cannot be calm in our heart until we first experience peace in our mind.
  2. The mind is a tool. It is a very powerful and subjective tool. It has 5 main activities of which misperception is the most active. Not seeing clearly, or not seeing things objectively, is what causes us to suffer.
  3. Feeling follows thought. Our thoughts initiate an emotional response. Happy thoughts = happiness. Sad thoughts = sadness. Peaceful thoughts = inner peace. Our emotions give us feedback about our thoughts.

How do we move from a state of misperception to an experience of inner peace?

We need to be willing to give up the idea that our initial perception is the only one. We need to question our own thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and emotions. We must be willing to see things more objectively.

We don’t have to believe everything we think!

Nothing has meaning until we give it meaning. The meaning we give to our experiences shapes how we feel about them. If we want to feel better, we must be willing to look at things from a different perspective, in a mindful way: paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally.

Using the practice of Mindfulness, here is my simple 3-step process to drop into Wise Mind:

Traffic Light Contemplation (TLC) Meditation

Take a moment and visualize a traffic light…

Step 1. RED LIGHT – STOP!
The next time you are triggered and you begin to feel upset, silently command yourself to STOP! Take in a few slower, deeper breaths and CONNECT to your heart each time you breathe in, connect to the surface below you as you breathe out. This brings you back to the present moment.

Step 2. YELLOW LIGHT – PAUSE.
Choose to PAUSE before you speak or act. Take time to clarify your options. Ask your Wise Mind:

a) What is in the way of me experiencing peace right now?
This simple question will bring forward the thoughts, beliefs, opinions, judgments, or misperceptions that are contributing to the emotions you feel, which are preventing you from experiencing peace.

b) Are these thoughts / beliefs 100% true?
Most of the time they are not. Remember, you don’t have to believe everything you think. They may feel true, however they are simply old ideas and habitual responses that no longer serve you.

c) How can I choose to see this differently?
Look at your situation objectively. Consider how a reporter or wise mentor would look at the same situation. This opens up the possibilities and allows you to create new meanings and responses. ALIGN with the options that feel best, and right, and true for you.

Step 3. GREEN LIGHT – GO!
Go! Respond from your heart. EXPRESS yourself authentically. Act on the options that allow you to experience greater peace.

Being at peace with what is, is an empowering choice. Like anything, it takes practice and gets easier with time. Give yourself the time and space you need to make better choices, to be at peace.

Remember, Peace is a choice.

When you experience noise, trouble, or hard work in your life, STOP! Take a few slower, deeper breaths in and CONNECT with your heart. Then PAUSE to clarify your options. Ask yourself the 3 questions… ALIGN with the options that feel best, and right, and true for you. And then GO! Respond with a calm heart. EXPRESS yourself authentically. Act in ways that honor you, and those around you.

Peace is a choice.
If you want to experience calm in your heart,
CHOOSE PEACE.

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