“Everything we do is infused with the energy in which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace. Our internal state determines our experience of our lives; our experiences do not determine our internal state.” Marianne Williamson from Return to Love
This past weekend I took a yoga class and in the middle of it, I had an epiphany about practicing peace. In between the postures on the floor, we laid still in corpse pose, also known as savasana. With feet flopped out to the side and palms facing up to the sky, I smiled deeply when I heard the teacher say, “Get into savasana quickly because it’s only twenty seconds long.”
Although I was attempting to still my thoughts in addition to my body, a golden realization sprung to mind about what a great metaphor for living this was. Life is short and goes fast so we need to find our sweet, soft spots quickly.
This morning while I was walking my wildly energetic puppy, I took her off leash when she saw her best puppy friend, Maggie. Maggie’s owner and I watched on the sidelines as the two puppies frolicked happily on the grass of a yard they play in often. Next door is a sprawling yellow house where a man I have never laid eyes on stepped out to pick up his newspaper. He resembled Mr. Clean and looked pissed.
He kept his door wide open and before I knew what was happening, my well meaning albeit crazy puppy took off and went right through his door. I should not have taken Poppy off of her leash and I understood why he was mad. I ran up to the house as he yelled at me to get my “f’in dog” (He used the real word and repeatedly I might add) out of his house. He was big and angry with smoke spiraling out of his nostrils screaming, “Do you think this is o.k?” Do you think this is o.k.?”
Of course I knew it was not o.k. I desperately wanted to spit at him and yell back but I knew it would only make matters worse. I also knew it was my ego that wanted me to act in a manner equally abhorrent as his. Egos don’t like to get hurt or humiliated. Thank goodness, the wiser and bigger me found my voice and apologized. A lot. As we were walking out of his house (both the dog and I with our heads down), I was completely shocked when Mr. Clean said, “If your dog ever does that again, I will shoot her.”
Maggie’s owner stood in disbelief. As the incident unfolded he also had the peace of mind to refrain from reacting with violence, either with fiery words or a fist. Maggie’s owner, shaking, walked me home as I burst into tears. I hate witnessing cruelty in fellow human beings. It’s scary and makes me very, very sad. My hopeful heart felt a little broken.
However, in this same heart, I also know we cannot fight fire with fire. I cringe to imagine what could have happened if I had allowed my anger to spiral out of control like he so effortlessly did. Right now I am honoring my sensitive soul and allowing my feelings to be felt. I will not let that curmudgeon ruin my day. Life is too short and I work too hard to be peaceful to just throw it away in an instant.
This is precisely why I meditate and practice mindfulness. The neutral awareness we find when practicing mindfulness helps anchor me in the moment and also to the stillness in my core. I still get upset, overly dramatic and highly irritable as evidenced by how I’m feeling now. I’m sure I always will since I’m only human and a highly sensitive one at that. However, I do believe with consistent practice, when I feel thrown off from this center by turbulent situations, maybe I will arrive more quickly back to the heart of my soul.
We have to practice what we want. If we want more love, kindness and peace, we need to be more loving, kind and peaceful. It’s like my daughter says, “The best way to make a friend is to be a friend.” (I must admit this lovely saying came from something she heard on T.V.)
If we are having an ugly or a lonely moment and feel there is nowhere to go, we can always turn inward and focus on the still center star within us. Peace is always here for us to be with.
At the end of my yoga class last weekend, the wonderful and prophetic teacher said, “Don’t let anyone or anything steal your peace.” Whether its is my daughter screaming at the top of her lungs madly trying to open the dryer which hold the black leotard she so desperately needs, or Mean Mr. Clean acting badly, I will remember these wise words.
I hope every day, little by little, I become more peaceful. I know forgiveness sets us free so I will forgive Mr. Clean and maybe even thank him for giving me the opportunity to practice what I preach. I also truly hope Mr. Clean learns how to get a peace. We would all benefit if he did.