Practicing Peace

Based on my writings, you might think I am in a continuously peaceful outer state, untouched by life’s vacillations. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mostly, I find my way to it, again and again. Peace is a practice for me, a daily connection to my innermost being, which plays out as occasional reminders to myself when my mind or emotions wander into uncertain territory. It’s easy to get lost in worry with one anxious thought. For instance: “What if it is rainy and windy on the day I fly?” An entire chain reaction of worries can follow: turbulence, zero visibility, plane crash. In a split second, fear can vividly project an imagined end to my life. Unless I consciously intervene with a deep breath and a return to peace (an ever-present part of my soul), my thoughts/feelings can take me on a rocky ride with no return ticket. Best to nip it in the bud.

My life is the fulfillment of a soul plan, a divine design. I know that with everything in me. I am not the designated solo artist of the big picture. It actually reassures me to realize I can’t control every outcome, to trust that a greater Presence weaves the cosmic tapestry. Yet, human habits of fear arise. We inherit them, as a species and as a member of a particular human family. The only real solution is conscious awareness and acceptance. We came to this planet to experience all the emotions—and then to reach a point of realizing their lack of substance, their temporary status. If we don’t get stuck in them, emotions pass right on through. What remains is stillness, where peace itself resides. This is soul territory.

Each time I take a deep breath and receive that deep inner soul peace, my entire world is also peaceful. Inner = outer. That’s how it works. Breathe consciously. Be grateful. You then move through your day in a quieter, gentler state of mind. Your heart opens to everyone and everything. You radiate the peace that is an integral part of your being. If each one of us on the planet breathed peace into our lives, consciously connected to our heart and soul, a shift would occur at a global level.

Of course, it is an ongoing practice. And by practice, I don’t mean struggling, efforting. Rather, gentle reminders throughout the day; it’s as easy as breathing. Take a deep breath; let go; accept what is; live in gratitude. The world outside reflects your inner world. If you feel fear, that is what you will experience. If you see wonder and miracles, that is what you will experience. Sounds simple, and it is. Just remember the peace that dwells within you always. Life can be sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth as silk, but it’s all worth it. The exquisitely beautiful living mural that is our life on Earth can be clearly seen through the eyes of peace.
“There is no path to peace,
Peace is the way.”—A. J. Muste

Your Identity and Soul

Your identity and your soul dance with each other throughout your life. You are born as pure soul into a physical form and return to formless soul presence at death. Gradually, with each life experience, that form takes on an identity, made up of memories, thoughts, and feelings. The soul steps to the background as the identity experiences life in this way. It never disappears; it just allows the identity to follow the course of its destiny, the one the soul and God designed for you before birth. You chose to have certain life experiences, both joy and sadness, loss and celebration. Through it all your soul is a quiet voice whispering guidance. Sometimes you hear it, sometimes not. Either way, life continues.

Then at a certain point, your identity may reach a moment of awakening, perhaps through spiritual epiphany, perhaps through crisis. That crack in the seemingly solid form your identity has taken, opens the door for your soul’s more expansive presence. The wisdom of acceptance and surrender to the course of life events arises in your consciousness. You stop trying to control and begin to allow. A deeper love of life, of self, and of others comes to the fore. This is your soul’s greatest gift.

I have experienced much of this over the years, both through spiritual practice and through life’s challenges. A global pandemic and breast cancer were my greatest teachers about the inner peace that comes from acceptance. They occurred one right after the other in my life after many years of spiritual exploration and growth. With them, I felt my identity begin to recede a bit and my soul move to the fore. There was no sense of loss, but rather a profound peace and trust in all of life, as well as death and eternity. I had feared the latter since childhood. Perhaps it took actually coming face to face with the possibility of death for me to let go into trusting in an infinite consciousness that held me and all of the world in loving beingness.

This may sound like a fairy tale or wishful thinking, but I assure you this is what happened for me. It is not an instant transformation but rather a gradual opening to full soul awareness. Today, I feel more deeply aligned with my soul, trusting in the divine flow of the universe. Yet, my identity has not entirely disappeared. It is like a thread that tethers me lightly to this lifetime, present in a passing thought or feeling. I know my identity is not to be disregarded and discarded. It is to be loved along with everything else in my life. My soul gave me my identity so I could experience life fully. If I can remember that whenever I feel apprehensive about something, then soul trust arises and all is well.

Your identity and soul are partners, your life support system, linked in love. Your soul is eternal, your identity temporary, but together they fill your life with meaning and purpose. Acknowledging their interconnected presence allows you to experience life with full conscious awareness of the miracle and gift that is life on Earth.

Fear and Trust

We all live with both fear and trust inside us. Fear is the residue of past painful events and the emotional triggers that can make us relive them and think something similar may happen again. Today the entire world lives with the fear engendered by a global pandemic and the illnesses and deaths that have accompanied it. In addition, political discord divides our planet. Each of us handles such fears in a variety of ways: distraction, denial, depression, nervous apprehension, sadness. Or just allowing the feelings to flow through and accepting them. The acceptance arises from a trust that lives deep within each of us. We were born with it.

Trust is the spirit of life itself. It is a connection to something greater than the specific events of your life. Some call this God or Universal Consciousness, but it is beyond labels and even beyond human understanding. The longer you live, the more opportunities you have to remember this connection and open to trusting it.  Sometimes in the midst of a very frightening or sad experience, you may realize that acceptance is the only thing that brings peace of mind. A peace that sidesteps the mind’s attempts to understand and control the situation. Acceptance opens the door to trust. Trust that comes from the wisdom of the heart and soul.

I have had many opportunities to get in touch with acceptance and trust in recent years. I’ve moved from one part of the country to another and then back again, my sense of “home” in constant flux. A dear lifetime friend died unexpectedly, and I felt my heart break. I have also lived through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Each of these life events affected me immensely and ultimately taught me to let go at the deepest possible level. Cancer, in particular, was a teacher of the most profound wisdom with regard to acceptance. When I accepted that cancer was indeed part of my soul’s path for this lifetime, I was able to move through the experience with trust instead of fear. It has been a year since my diagnosis and treatment, and the deeper truths I learned inform my life daily.

Simultaneously, COVID too has been a major factor for me in living with acceptance. The specter of COVID and its variants forms the background for our lives now, whether we try to ignore it or think of it continually. Perhaps it has come to teach us on a grand scale that there are things we can’t control and that only acceptance will bring peace of mind. Whether it is a hurricane, a pandemic, or a physical condition, there are always events we just have to surrender to and do the best we can to live through consciously. Life is a drama that includes every extreme. At times it feels overwhelming, and we want to rewrite the script, forgetting that we designed our life path before birth.

Everything is happening for our awakening and expansion. If you can embrace this truth, it puts you in touch with the peace at your core. A peace that gently moves you through fear to trust. Trust in the events of your life, however they may appear, and trust in your self and your soul’s journey. You may think everything is chaos in your life, but your heart and soul know better. It is all a sacred passage into the light of peaceful awareness.

A Camino: Firewalk and Life Streaming

When I first heard the diagnosis “breast cancer,” I was lost in shock and fear. How could this happen in my life? To me?! After a few days, I gradually was able to re-center in the peace within me, to remember that everything that happens in my life is part of a soul plan that I was part of designing before my birth. Nothing is a coincidence, and everything is connected to everything else. I am one soul in one lifetime on one planet. Yet I am also part of the entire fabric of being in the universe. Sometimes it takes loss or crisis in our lives to fully realize this. When things fall away or apart, the long view becomes more visible.

Illness or disease can stop you short in your tracks and remind you of your own mortality. Even if you think you are unattached to outcome or completely surrendered to however events unfold. Even if you feel connected to a greater consciousness beyond life and death. There is always more surrender available, deeper all the time. And there is always more letting go of attachment—until there’s nothing left but soul. The physical body holds within it the last attachment. You definitively let go of that attachment at death. But you can also let go of it as part of life. This is what is meant by “dying unto yourself.” You release attachment not only to your identity but to your physical form. You live your life as your soul, immersed in peaceful Presence. The same immersion in Presence that occurs at death. Only you are radiantly alive and aware.

I have experienced times of surrender and Presence on my spiritual journey, but when breast cancer came into my life, I stepped onto an accelerated path: my own Camino.* The more I trusted that I was being divinely guided on this path, the more everything flowed. During and after surgery, I felt surrounded by angelic healers, floating in profound Oneness. My physical form seemed almost nonexistent. I returned home to heal and rest quietly. A week later, the pathology report showed wide clear margins—excellent! Then my surgeon told me that new test results indicated I should probably include chemotherapy in my treatment plan along with radiation. I had already accepted the latter, but the combo frightened me. Attachment to my body as it currently looked and felt was front and center. I was being asked to dive even deeper into acceptance and surrender.

My breast-cancer-survivor friends helped me with this acceptance (as did my very knowledgeable and kind doctors), but then my own inner genie handed me a vision that changed the way I saw everything. During a powerful meditation one morning, I suddenly understood what breast cancer represented in my life. In my mind’s eye, I saw an image of burning coals, like those used in the traditional firewalk, practiced by many cultures for thousands of years as a rite of faith, healing, or initiation. Immediately, I knew that for me radiation and chemo were the “burning coals,” and that I would safely “walk” through them as I surrendered attachment to my body and trusted my soul’s journey. My Camino walk is a fire of initiation, transmutation, and expansion beyond the physical. I envisioned myself afterward as pure soul light. No attachments, just life streaming through eternity in timeless splendor.

This is our collective destiny: to walk through humanity’s fires and emerge as light, each in our own way. Every person’s journey is unique. Each soul path divinely orchestrated. On the other side of our firewalks is a Presence that permeates the universe in life and in death. In truth, they are one: infinite beingness. When we realize that, all fear falls away, and we can live our lives with peaceful, open hearts and souls.
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*The Camino is a well-known path of spiritual pilgrimage across northern Spain.

You Are Here

Do you recall the maps in public places that help you find your way? There is usually a circle or an X with the notation: “You are here.” X marks the spot where you are in the “real world.” From there, you navigate the path to your destination. In life, without maps to guide us from birth to death, our course is less certain. We tend to wander at first, gradually gaining momentum and direction, then perhaps pausing at some point to contemplate the big picture. Our minds often wish we had something as simple as a map to direct us on the perfect life journey. We sometimes question where we are going and if we have made a wrong turn, a fatal error in judgment. What we don’t realize is that there are no errors.

You are always being moved by life force energy, a physical conduit for soul presence in the world. And that soul presence knows exactly where you are going and what your life purpose is. In the realm of spirit, before you were born, you chose the path for this lifetime, and your soul is the inner reminder of that choice. Whenever you feel as if something inside is moving you toward a certain decision or destination, that is your soul. The map you have been looking for outside yourself is within. And your soul’s guiding voice speaks to you through your intuition and through synchronicities. Sometimes in the words of a friend or even a stranger at just the right moment. If you listen and look, the clues are everywhere.

And the good part is that you can’t make a mistake. Wherever you are meant to be is where you are right now. Isn’t that a surprise? Even if you don’t really like where you are, it’s where you are supposed to be for the purposes of your soul’s journey. So, instead of complaining or resisting, try accepting and surrendering to what is actually a divinely orchestrated life course. Look around. What wisdom is hiding within the shadows of your own perception? Imagine that this very moment holds the secrets of the universe—switch on the light of your awareness and receive them. Take a deep breath and see the world with the eyes of your soul. If nothing is a mistake, then what am I being given now, here?

In each breath is all of life. Each moment holds the infinite Now. You are not in this lifetime to be forever lost and confused. You are here to awaken and fully live with spirit. That is the collective purpose of all our lives on this planet. The truth is that there is no path. There is only here. Your consciousness contains the universe within it, and that is what you are experiencing. Beyond time and space. When you fall fully into that realization, you align with your soul and with God in completely synchronized loving awareness. Some call this God realization or enlightenment. Something that has always existed within you, within all of us.

So you can stop wondering why you happen to be in this particular place with these particular people at this particular time. You are all here to shine your lights and to see more clearly because of it. You are each a catalyst for one another’s unfolding and evolution. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, it is perfect. Inside the simplicity of “You are here” is the recognition of eternal Presence and divine design.