Healthy Living Magazine

Peddling Peace

By Lynnbraz @wandering_lotus
Peddling PeaceTragic acts of horrific violence, like the one that took place just after midnight this morning in Aurora, Colorado, no longer shock me. I can't remember if Columbine was the first mass murder of its kind or the first to be committed in a school by students. I don't know how many Oakland drive-bys that killed children and infants made the news during the years 14 I lived in San Francisco. I didn't even bother to notice crime news when I lived in Philly and Manhattan. Once, at a subway stop newsstand, I saw a man pull a gun on three teenagers who were robbing him. He chased them, but as far as I remember, didn't shoot.
I've been, for decades, a staunch gun control advocate. It's one of the few political movements to which I regularly contributed money. Guns kill people. I was blissfully black and white in my thinking of this issue for decades until recently when a friend pointed out that the first thing a fascist government does is take aways its citizens' guns. There's a reason the Second Amendment exists. This left me permanently conflicted. Get rid of the guns and mass murder rates will drop. But criminals will always figure out how to get weapons, so gun control, likely, would apply mostly to non-murderous upstanding citizens.
There is a solution that doesn't involve unraveling the Constitution. We, as a society, have to find a way to make peace every individual's number one goal. We need marketing geniuses to market peace. We have to make individual peace as tantalizing as a new Lexus, fudge-dipped Oreos, Manolo Bhahniks.
I rarely attend mass anymore but when I do, I'm always struck by how many times the word "peace" is mentioned. I hear it like a mantra: my peace I give you, go in peace, peace to his people on earth, grant us peace in our day, the Peace of the Lord be with you always.
It's taken me decades to realize that mass is one long prayer for peace, that all spiritual disciplines of which I have any knowledge primarily pray for peace.
My religious upbringing—and this isn't a knock, it's merely a fact—didn't actually teach peace. It preached peace. It did offer some practical tools for attaining peace—confession (for me, the letting go of guilt and shame) and prayer. I'm sure those two tools are enough to do the trick for a naturally spiritual person. I require more direction.
As an adult I've explored numerous spiritual disciplines in an attempt to become a happy, peaceful person. Here's what I learned:
  • The only way to feel good is to be (think, speak and act) good.
  • Meditation, which can feel like torture, helps me understand why peace needs to be my number one goal.
  • So does yoga. Plus, an Ashtanga yoga practice produces bliss.
  • So does jogging.
  • I can't become a peaceful person by thinking negatively.
  • I'm only powerless over my first thought. I choose my second thought and every other one after that.
  • People, places and circumstances don't rob me of my serenity. My thoughts about them do.
  • My level of anxiety (lack of peace) is directly related to my thoughts.
In other words, my thinking either generates peace or violence, and it's totally up to me which direction I take.
When The Secret DVD and book hit the bestseller's lists a few years back, it regurgitated standard Science of the Mind affirmations, think positive stuff. I got hung up on the "think yourself thin and eat anything you want" chapter and blew off the book/DVD completely. There are other channels for retraining the mind to be peaceful that work much better for me:I've heard spiritual teachers say one way to experience more peace is to stop reading and watching the news. That's bullshit. Even though all conventional news sources in the U.S. are nothing more than corporate propaganda machines, it's still important to know what's going on in your world. Ignorance is not bliss.
Peacefulness is bliss. It all starts with a thought and a thought can be changed (Louise Hay quote).
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