Living a life of peace is a beautiful gift and I find it gets easier every day that I practice, but getting easier and being easy are not the same thing. I love the book Peace is Every Step by Thích Nhất Hạnh. It is a wonderful guide to living a more peaceful life every day. It has helped me immensely. Still, I find that walking peace in every step is work!
It takes a commitment to living consciously in each moment, which of course is a goal of mindfulness. However, in the society I grew up in that was not what we were taught. It wasn’t that I was taught to live non-peacefully, but I wasn’t raised believing that I was creating my life in each moment with the choices I made. Quite honestly when I did begin to look at that as a way of living years ago, I didn’t really like it too much! It meant taking responsibility for my life in great and small ways. It meant that I couldn’t just point my finger at someone else and blame them for my life. It meant that I had a choice in each moment about how I would react to the events in my life.
It was work. It still is. The practicing shows up in all areas of my life. There are times as a parent when I would love to just say, “Because I say so!” Yet, that’s not how I’ve chosen to show up as a parent. We talk about issues that come up. We look at them from different sides. We talk to each other peacefully (most of the time) and we listen peacefully to the other person. They each have a voice in our family discussions.
I’m sure it’s not easy for them sometimes. For instance, when they are stressed about a project for school with a looming deadline and are feeling angry and consequently are short with everyone, I gently ask them when the assignment was given and when they started working on it. The answers to these questions are generally reluctantly given. Eventually we come around to the fact that it’s not the teacher’s fault or the fault of the weather or the cats or anything like that. In fact there is no fault it was simply a choice they made to wait until the last minute to work on the project and there are consequences to that choice. While this may not be what they want to hear at that moment, they understand that they have a choice. That pays off because we then also talk about the choice they have now that they are down to the wire, they can continue to stress about it or they can focus and do the best they can. It’s almost always less bleak than it seemed to them once they take a breath and refocus. It’s not always easy though walking that path with them, but it’s always worth it. It’s amazing to see what they can do once they realize they really do have choices and really can create their lives through those choices.
Of course it also means that I can’t then turn around the next day and be short with them about a choice that I made. We definitely shine the light on the path for each other, which is a wonderful and challenging gift.
So while I love practicing peace with every step, sometimes those steps do seem to be uphill. Fortunately, the view of my life from the peak is breathtaking!