He explained to me that the best way to find, and keep, harmony in our lives is to first commit to truly awakening our inner peace. Begin with setting peace as a deep intention for your daily life, not something that reserved just for the weekend or on holidays. The next step, he said, is to create a safe place where you can 'bear witness to your struggles every day.' Instead of trying to ignore struggle, or making ourselves feel numb when struggles arise, he told me that it's actually better to get to know your struggles personally, without judgement and my simply observing them. Struggle is a part of life. Without struggle, how would we ever know joy? Don't fight struggle, give in and simply let it be. Writing down your thoughts can also be helpful. So is meditation. The third step, according to Dharma, is becoming still and appreciating the peace that arises from your bravery to accept your struggle and from your willingness to look at it, without judgement, fear, and hopelessness. This is called learning to accept what is.
So, after we locate our lost inner peace, how do we hang on it? Dharma offers up a few suggestions:
1. Learn the power of a smile. When we smile, or laugh, something interesting happens. Not only does something happen on the chemical level that makes us feel better, but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering our psyche. A simple smile can make a world of difference. Being able to laugh at simple things...even at ourselves...is an important part of maintaining our inner peace. Life can be joyous, even when it feels like the end of the world.
2. Spend time in nature. Communing in nature doesn't just make animals feel "at home" it can make humans feel at home...loved, safe, and nurtured...as well. There is something serene and peaceful about a walk along the beach, or a stroll in the quiet beauty of the woods. Nature is abundant and resilient; so are humans. Remember that. The magesty of a sunset, or sunrise, can fill humans with awe. Awe is a powerful tool and one that isn't utilized near enough. Feeling down? Get up early and watch the sun rise; a new day that is filled with hope and promise. Feels pretty good, doesn't it?
3. Think outwardly. For the most part we frogs, and I dare say most humans, think inwardly. Oftentimes, we can't see the forest for the trees. Know what I mean? We're so consumed with our own problems that we can't see how lucky we are. Begin to genuinely care about other people, and watch what happens. The world doesn't revolve around our own little problems. Sometimes we forget this fact and it's good to be reminded that no matter how awful we think our problem is, there's someone out there in a lot worse shape.
4. Never loose hope. Hope is something that we should never lose. With hope in your heart, there's always a path towards inner peace. Knowing, deep within your heart that everything will be OK, can give you a real sense of peace. And it will be OK. Recall all that you've gone through before...those things that you thought would kill you. They didn't and life went on. You became stronger because of it. Whatever is happening in your present, remember that this too shall pass.
5. Keep learning. Humans worry about not having all the answers. Simply accepting that you don't know everything, can bring a great deal of relief. Be open to learning new things. You never know when that information may come in handy. Find joy in learning. Life is one big journey, filled with never-ending lessons. Close yourself off to learning from life's lessons and you'll never find, or keep, your inner peace.
6. Live in the present. Worrying about the past that can't be changed, and worrying about what might happen are both fruitless acts. No one can ever be fully prepared for every scenerio that could happen to us on our way down the road of life. It's pointless to try. Concentrating on the here and now keeps us grounded in reality. Reality isn't always what we'd like it to be, but it's all we have. Finding joy in every moment, that proverbial silver lining, is what inner peace is all about.
Once you've found your inner peace, carry it with you out into the world. It's easy to get tripped up in our every day lives, but instead drifting away from your "peaceful place," gently remind yourself of where you just were before the slip-up. Lovingly make room for both the peace and the struggle in your life. Allowing both to co-exist in a warm, loving way is the surest way I know to find, and keep, inner peace. And Dharma agrees.
After the Dharma Frog left, and I cleaned up from breakfast, I decided I needed to spend a little time getting to know my own personal struggles. I've been ignoring them far too long. When that happens, they become very unruly and seem to get even worse. I want inner peace, as we all do. And it starts by accepting that life isn't as perfect as we'd wish...but then again, it really is. We only need to look deep within to find that it's all good.