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Seeking peace

June 15, 2011
Most everyone feels drawn to the idea of peace — inner peace, a peaceful home, a peaceful country, a peaceful world — but what does it take to have it? Christina Grant, PhD, discusses how cultivating your own inner peace will help in actively promoting peace externally.
By Christina Grant, PhDMost everyone I know feels drawn to the idea of peace — inner peace, a peaceful home, a peaceful country, a peaceful world. But what does it take to have it? As we all know, peace isn’t an easy goal. Wars and invasions have prevailed in the world throughout history. In order for this to be the case, I think the majority of people who live on the planet are at war within themselves. How could it be any other way?If we have mini-wars within us, what do we do about them? This is an important question for all successful peacemakers. If you believe, like I do, that inner conflict ultimately leads to wars in the world, then doing our own inner housekeeping is the most powerful way we can contribute to planetary peace.The noble goal of seeking a more peaceful environment includes fostering serenity and harmony in our innermost selves. If each of us maintained our own serenity, we would never consider invading or harming another person or “tribe.” It wouldn’t even occur to us. Harboring hostilities, even the tiny ones we pretend we don’t have, creates an ideal environment for conflict. Even the annoyances we feel toward others — their attitudes or opposing beliefs, their mannerisms and expressions, the things they might say or do, the way they drive — have the opposite effect of what most of us really want, which is peace. So what would it look like to cultivate an inner sense of peace in a way that promotes external peace? We would begin by taking responsibility for our feelings. We are a society addicted to blaming others for our own unwanted circumstances. We wouldn’t do this anymore. Instead, we would work through disturbing thoughts and emotions, refusing to fling them out into the world the way we sometimes do. Instead of taking opportunities to express our hostilities toward others, we would express them constructively (exercise, journaling, singing, dancing, releasing the sounds of hostility in healing ways). And we might even think about cultivating compassion and understanding for our own suffering. “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” This quote by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow appears to reveal our lack of awareness that each person’s pain is not unlike our own pain. When we can see that the person who just drove past us like a maniac, or our rude co-worker, or our angry partner is actually in some sort of pain (otherwise there wouldn’t be the aggression), then we can begin to understand, “Ah, this person is suffering. It is not about me. Perhaps the best thing I can do in this moment is to offer them compassion, for their suffering is not unlike my own.” What people need most of all is compassion for their ignorance and the way they inadvertently hurt others.So maybe you will join me on a quest for peace. But let’s not just talk about it or march for it or wonder why it hasn’t happened yet. Let’s actually cultivate it within ourselves. In this way no matter what happens in our world, we can know our own role has been to actively promote peace.
Dr. Christina Grant is a holistic healer and spiritual counselor who works in person and by phone. She has helped hundreds of people attain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Her writing is published nationwide. She is co-author of “The Eight Minute Muse” and is completing a book with a fresh perspective on women’s health. Her Web site is