How to practice peace (when all seems lost)

What do I believe? Peace is our natural state, and underneath expressions of violence or anger is a deep sense of helplessness. That when we war, we do it against ourselves. That conflict comes out of ignorance and self-hatred, a mistaken understanding that somehow sees life as less magnificent and precious than it is, and greatly underestimates the abundance we are born into. 

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Lessons in the Future from 1906

The more we try to control the future by pinning it down using our well-worn concepts, the more blindsided we will be as the future keeps manifesting the new into reality. In contrast, when we enter into the future with our imaginations, rather than trying to predict it or bend it to our will, we seek a balance between channeling that which wants to be born into the world and using our agency to actively shape this new creation towards the good.

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Celebrate Everything

Just like in meditation, when we pick a focus – the breath, the earth, sounds, sensations – we start to attune to that focus. We begin to notice more. Our perspective shifts. When I started to actively turn my awareness towards celebration, there was no shortage of content and possibility, of reasons and occasions to partake in some revelry.

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Sadness and Sweetness

My practice has helped me cultivate acceptance. When I give up on the present moment being any different than it is, there is equanimity. I am free to engage fully with what is because I’m not stuck in what I think should be. I’m free to respond with grace, empathy, compassion, spontaneity, and love. And when I fail, acceptance forgives me and invites me to try again.

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Our Life is the Ceremony 

Our dominant culture in the West seems almost devoid of ceremony. If there is a ritual, it would be in unboxing an Amazon package. We gulp our coffee. I sit in Zazen, too often, not in reverence for the eternal position, but as an item to check off on a daily list of them. The connection to the eternal, the collective wisdom of our ancestors, is frayed.

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