There are so many beautiful quotes for “peace” and it is hard to choose one to relate with thoughts and feelings. I chose this particular one as it describes most accurately my observations on how people perceive this virtue.
My desire to express my thoughts on “peace” stemmed from my recent visit to a retreat center. I’ve always considered retreats as opportunities to spend quality time with the self and even with people who think alike. The scenery is always welcoming and gives you the opportunity to reflect, share, connect with nature.
I’ve been to this particular retreat before but it was the first time that I couldn’t concentrate both on practicing meditation or listening to the workshop facilitator. My mind was occupied with an observation I made at the very start of the workshop. We were about 30 people in the room, sitting comfortably in silence. This silence turned out to be an anticipation for something, possibly a miracle, an unknown source of power or even a magic hand that could reverse things around. It was mainly an outer silence rather than an inner silence.
Both types of silence were broken though, when the facilitator asked us kindly to introduce ourselves and share with the rest of the group the reason that brought us there.
Revelation time had come and as I was patiently waiting for my turn I could hear the same statement repeating itself as if there was a fixed script on what to say. “Peace, I want to find peace”.
Finally the inner self made itself to a wider audience expressing the individual truth. Or may I say THE truth. It was that moment when the honest reality in that room stimulated the need in me to enquire, learn, prevent and hopefully change.
As attendees were elaborating on their need to “find peace”, I was busy thinking to myself the following: “You have created your life and personal reality for the past 20 or 30 years in such a way that it causes you stress, unbalance, unhappiness, anxiety, sadness, fear, insecurity. Do you really expect to “find peace” in a weekend retreat? Do you think that “peace” lies in a morning discussion where all you do is ask questions to solve your “problems”? Do you really believe that someone will use their magic wand and spread “peace” all over you? ”
My observations were taking the form of a dialogue inside my head and I was really trying to justify the need for finding “peace”. Some of my thoughts included the following: “Maybe being here, it is a first step for everyone to know what “peace” is” or “Being ready is the key and these people are ready to change and find peace”. These excuses weren’t enough though to feel content.
My personal experience with mental illness reminded me of my journey and the way I cultivated peace in my life. Yes, “peace” is a virtue and you cultivate it. It begins with ourselves and it is an inner state of well-being and serenity. It consists of pure thoughts, pure feelings and pure wishes and it is the absence of fear and stress. Peace IS the path as it is beautifully described in the quote above. The first step should be to start practicing “peace” in our daily lives by being loving and kind to everyone involved, by spreading feeling of joy, by sending genuine wishes to people, by forgiving, by living a peaceful life without being slaves of the society we have created.
I witnessed a reality and it felt like people were disconnected from the source. You can call it God, spirit, soul, energy or anything else that you feel comfortable with. It is still the same and has the same characteristics: Truth, calm, serenity, empowerment, potential, PEACE.
We have secluded ourselves in buildings made out of cement or plaster, we have become followers of a secular system, following trends and social obligations, having expectations and creating attachments. No wonder we feel stressed, anxious, depressed, unhappy. We feel relaxed and pleased when we connect with nature and there is nothing wrong with that. We ARE nature. We belong to nature and we are “products” of this world just like trees, flowers, animals, water, the sun. It is natural to have this type of connection hence the feelings that are expressed when we do so. We are interconnected.
However, we have transformed this natural connection to luxury. In order to have it we need to sacrifice our mental and physical health by working unlimited hours, most of the time in jobs that are not aligned with our values. We have put price on freedom and connection. Our ego-dominated self wants to succeed, be the best, have the best, be recognised as the best in order to be able to enjoy 2 weeks in nature.
People want peace in the world but who is responsible for this so-called peace? Who will create it? Peace is a virtue and it starts as a personal process. By cultivating peace we can create a collective consciousness which will become a habit and eventually a value. Yes, “peace” is a value. Choosing to live with peace, gives hope, connects people, creates a self that everyone is striving for but seems to look for it in external events and situations.
My suggestion for everyone would be to reflect on “what peace means to you and how you demonstrate it in your lives”. It will give you the opportunity to identify moments of peace and possibly start recreating your life in a way that is aligned with this idea of peace that you have. Start by being peace, then thinking peace and practicing peace. Open you heart and arms and hug the people you love. There is so much honesty in that, it is bonding, it is connecting. I was pleasantly surprised when a colleague of mine hugged me the other day. It was so spontaneous and an act of genuine honesty. Honesty and peace.
Maybe it was an opportunity indeed for people at the retreat to start exploring peace in their lives, like the seed that is being planted. Maybe it was just an escape. Certainly it was an experience.
Next time I visit the retreat center I know what to respond to the question: “I am here to SHARE peace”
I see myself as the canvas where I put creativity, thoughts, ideas, inspiration and create a new reality. Eventually I become the architect of my life.