I'm a pacifist with a big heart. I want peace for our communities, our country, and the world. Many of us seek more peace in life, yet peace doesn't arrive without effort. It's unrealistic to think peace will magically appear. As individuals and communities, we can actively practice peace.
This has been on my mind and in my heart. There's a note displayed in my office: "In this moment, how am I practicing peace?" It's perhaps easier to describe the ways I practice war: tightening muscles, trying to control life, judging myself and others, wanting things to be different from how they are, allowing frustration and anger to build, pushing myself too hard. All of this is resistance—being at war not peace with life. If I let resistance run the show, then my interactions with others suffer. Peace begins within.
So, in this moment as I write, how am I practicing peace? I notice my body posture and soften my jaw and shoulders. I let go of my sense of urgency, taking pauses when needed. I feel my breath, listen to the wind, and watch the squirrels, even as they dig in my new flower bed. Letting go, opening my heart and mind. That 1-minute practice helped. These steps needn't be grand, but they do need to happen. Small, regular doses of awareness.
I cultivate peace when I sit in meditation, walk in nature, or hug a loved one. I practice peace when I pause—making space for a considered response rather than a habituated reaction. I practice peace when I forgive myself (for all the ways I forget and distract) and then choose to begin again.
Resistance is exhausting. We might not love our current situation, but we can stop resisting, little bit by little bit. Soften our muscles, release expectations, and open our hearts. With honest and gentle effort, we can cultivate peace within ourselves. And it's from this place that we better serve the world.