If you’re like most people – wrestling with a busy life, a stressful job, challenging relationships and financial obligations that sometimes feel overwhelming – you’re probably wondering: How can I have more peace in my life? We asked Philip for his secrets on how to create more inner peace, and how we can make peacebuilding a practical way of everyday living. “What’s striking to me is the relationship between the inner journey and the outer world,” he says. “As you build an inner peace practice, you will be manifesting world peace in profound ways at the deepest energetic and spiritual levels.”
Philip offers three powerful and yet simple ways you can create more peace in your life and become a peacebuilder at the same time. Here are his “3 Secrets of Peacebuilding”:
1. Embrace Conflict as a natural part of life and Peace as your Birthright
Conflict is a natural part of the human experience and an integral part of a spiritual path.
On a basic level, conflict is a result of differences — opinions, positions, and the myriad forms of human expressions. On a deeper level, conflict stems from a person’s identification with his/her thoughts, emotions, and body and, as a result, feeling separate from her/his own soul and God.
By accepting conflict as natural, we can relax and choose how to approach it in the moment. How we deal with conflict determines if it is destructive or constructive, or something in between. Constructive approaches to conflict can deepen personal relationships and serve as a driving force in helping families, communities, and entire societies evolve over time.
Meanwhile, peace is the very essence of the soul. By going inward and attuning with our soul, we can tap into a sense of peace that can open to a deepening experience of bliss and love and eventually into oneness with God/Universe/Spirit (whatever word works for you). Peace and bliss are our birthright, as they exist in our own souls. They can be experienced as we seek our own divinity. It is not so much a matter of discovering as remembering our soul essence.
Meditation is an important tool for directly experiencing the soul, or higher states of consciousness, and tapping into a deep sense of peace. Meditation also can be helpful for learning how to deal with inner and outer conflicts constructively.
Choosing a meditation practice is very personal. Some people are drawn to meditation for its scientifically proven mental, emotional, and physical benefits, and want to keep away from the spiritual aspects. Other people look to meditation to deepen their spiritual practices and will blend Eastern meditation techniques with a Western religion.
When first starting with meditation, it can be helpful to experiment with different traditions to see what works for you. I tried several spiritual and meditation traditions before seeking just one.
Habit: If you can make meditation a daily habit — whether first thing in the morning, at noon, and/or before going to bed — you will find it is easy to meditate longer.
Fellowship: I find it helpful to be in a meditation tradition that has a community of people that offer regular opportunities to meditate together.
Retreats: If you can afford the time and money, a several-day- or week-long meditation retreat during the year can reinforce a practice.
Guidance: It is very helpful to be in a tradition where you have access to guidance from teachers on a regular basis, whether by phone or in person.
3. The Witness: Responding Instead of Reacting — Breaking Cycles
Meditation helps a person to develop the witness —the part of oneself that is witnessing thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. The witness is pure consciousness or, as some would say, the soul itself.
Developing the witness is critical for being able to consciously respond to situations instead of unconsciously reacting. As one yogi said, “we perceive, interpret, and react, just like that.” If we overly identify with our thoughts and emotions, we can instantly react from a place of habit when someone does something that provokes us. When you develop the witness, you can perceive, interpret, pause and observe your thoughts and emotions. During the pause, you can invoke feelings of peace experienced in meditation (close the eyes just for a second, breathe deeply, focus on the third eye and remember the peace you felt while meditating) and then more calmly choose how you wish to respond by drawing upon soul wisdom.
By pausing and tuning in with your soul, you can take responsibility for your reactions and separate them out from the person triggering you. This way, you can break any cycle of habitual reactive patterns that set into motion cause-and-effect dynamics, or, negative karmic seeds. Instead, you can create positive karmic seeds based on wise responses and, over time, reduce the power of your reactions that get triggered.
In this way, you actually develop free will instead of being a puppet of unconscious habits.
4. BONUS SECRET: The Namaste practice
Learn to deeply listen to others and, while listening, acknowledge their inherent value. “I call it the Namaste practice,” Philip says. “Listening as if people matter.” Here’s a Namaste exercise: When you walk up to somebody, you mentally acknowledge their innate value. Whether you agree with them or disagree with them, you just acknowledge their value.
NOTE: For a free peacebuilding toolkit from Philip, go to: http://www.godandconflict.com