Recently I started thinking more about peace and wrote in Peace – part 1 about the reading I had done into peace and some of its meanings.
I ended with a couple of questions:
“And what about inner peace and feeling peaceful? What did those things really mean to me?”
I’ve been continuing to think about these questions and I feel now that I am close enough to an understanding of what these things are to me to write about them here.
The first sentence on the Wikipedia article on Peace is:
“Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violence, conflict behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence.”
Peace as a state of harmony is something I have been thinking about since I read that. Harmony is something that I tend to link to music and musically harmony is the simultaneous use of different notes. I think many will think of harmonious music as being music that sounds pleasing to us, the use of different pitches and instruments blending together to form something we enjoy. So does that mean that peace is a state where different actions take place simultaneously that are pleasing to us? I think this is much closer to what I feel peace is.
But for me there is more to peace than actions taking place that are pleasing. I have to be able to recognise what actions are taking place around me and form a judgement about whether they are pleasing or not. In order to recognise what actions are taking place about me I have to be in a position to increase my awareness of myself and my surroundings. I have to become a bit more “mindful” of the present moment.
I’ve recently read a book called “Zen Druidry” by Joanna van der Hoeven. I’m not familiar with Zen philosophy but one aspect of what Joanna writes has been of particular benefit for me as I think about peace and that is Mindfulness. She writes:
“The key to integrating Zen and Druidry lies in the path of mindfulness – living with full attention.”
(Chapter 8, page 60)
She goes on to say:
“In Sanskrit, mindfulness is smriti, which also means recollection, the state of being alert and also retention.”
For me I think being mindful in these ways is also key to being able to recognise peace both within myself and around me more often.
Like many others I live a busy life. There are days where I seem to hardly have a moment in which to think or feel for myself let alone become aware enough to recognise peace. For me to be able to recognise what is going around me I need things to quieten down a bit. If I’m surrounded with all sorts of different sensory input, have a mental list of what I need to do next running through my head and children or work colleagues asking me for things that may or may not be on my mental lists of things to do I can feel a bit like a punchbag.
I’ve realised that the places I find peaceful are places where the level of sensory input is reduced, where the demands I and others place on myself are reduced or even removed for a while. I need space to be able to recognise what’s going on around me, to judge it and to feel “peace”.
If I can develop a better level of mindfulness then I should be able to make those judgments about actions going on around me more readily and assuming they are generally pleasing actions recognise that there is probably more peace in my life than I realise most of the time.
Developing a better level of mindfulness than I have at the moment though is probably going to take me a while but identifying the challenge is the first step in succeeding.
And in the meantime I have formed the intention to take some time on 21st September to look at what is taking place around me and finding some peace for Peace One Day.