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Welcome to Peace Place...Dwell in this Moment

Peace Place is a free online journal. Here you'll find  gentle invitations and suggestions for bringing more peace into your life as well as links to some other peace related sites on the web you may find interesting. You are welcome!
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Friday, April 29, 2005

Early Morning Walk
Are you an early riser or a late sleeper? Do you wake to music, an alarm, or the change of light as daylight breaks?
Have you taken an early morning walk lately? How early? Before you have your breakfast, or start to organize your activity for the day you have a moment when you can meet the new day in a quiet, peaceful way.
Early morning light is unlike any other. Birds celebrate it and grass, plants and trees glisten in the dew and light. You become part of that beauty and peace by joining it and participating in the morning activity of natural life. You affirm your respect for and connection with nature on an early morning walk.
We focus so much on exercise and aerobic activity and we become so single-purposed on walking as exercise, that we sometimes lose the sense of beauty and spiritual/emotional/physical renewal we can experience on a quiet walk. We might be so focussed on our own heartbeat, with our various watches and pulse moniters, that we miss the invitation and opportunity to open our hearts, minds and souls to the lovely heartbeat of life and our world.
Taking a walk for no reason but joining the pulse of life with our own heartbeat is a good reason for getting out in the fresh air anytime.  An early morning walk is an especially refreshing opportunity to experience that connection as the start of your day.
See you in the morning. Lets go for a walk. Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:28 am edt 

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Recognize Your Worth
Knowing that you are a being of value and worth is both an opportunity and a obligation. You have something to do, say, and be or your would not be here. Knowing this is a pivotal lesson of life. Trusting yourself and nurturing your dreams and visions is crucial for the progress of life itself. You are a gift and your life is an opportunity to share your gifts.
Knowing and appreciating your worth is not an external validation,whether through job status, educational achievement or salary scales. Knowing and appreciating your worth is not determined by external affirmations or evaluations. While recognition may be nice, it does not have the same depth and importance that your own inner sense of self gives you.
We spend so much time focusing on what we are not; what we have not done. Look, instead, at what you have done and what you have achieved. Because you have not achieved everything or even any of what you once set out to achieve, you may be overlooking what you actually have achieved simply by being who you are. Too hard on yourself? When you find the critical voice speaking out, ask it to listen while you list the things you have done and the accomplishments you have achieved. Tell that voice when you are through with the list, that it can start up again. Bet that voice won't have much to say once you are finished with your list.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:26 am edt 

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Cat Is Watching
There is a book entitled, A Cat Is Watching. If you know or have ever had a cat, you can relate to the truth of that statement. When not sleeping or eating, a cat is generally watching something with great interest. Something we humans cannot see, seems more than interesting to a cat. Nothing in particular needs to be done, apparently, but watching is obviously engaging and informative.
Observation can, for us, also be engaging. We attend concerts to become a part of the music, and we enjoy plays as seemingly passive participants in the drama. We expand our awareness and our understanding through observation.
We are not really passive when we observe and neither are cats when they watch. We are always interacting with our environment and receiving information from it if we pay attention to it. We may learn a great deal from watching cats, though, and we may be instructed and informed by their attentiveness to the surroundings.
Another book we know of is Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful.  They do, of course. Paying attention to the way in which fellow beings add to and inform us about the world is enlightening. 
Cats. Watching them watching us, can help to make one more aware of and receptive to what is going on. Peace to you this day. Peace.
7:58 am edt 

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Seeing is Believing
In one of the teachings of Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda's book, A Separate Reality, the sorcerer tries to teach his student that seeing is more than visual. Seeing, he informs, is accomplished with more than the eyes can see.  Seeing  sometimes, in fact, comes from hearing very well. It may be like listening to see, he says,and sometimes sounds are visual in effect; that is, they can actually be seen if attended to with every amount of attention we can muster.
Simone Weil talked about attention in a different way than we use the word today. For Weil, attention was more like "tuning in" and being with rather than a strict focusing or shutting out all else. In this sense, attention actually "lets in" rather than shuts out information. It is a broadening rather than a narrowing of focus. Seeing and attention for Don Juan and Simone Weil does not so much rely on the intellectual or work of the mind as it relies on the openness of the heart to "what is going on."
Seeing more than we usually allow ourselves to see and using all of our senses: touch, taste, hearing and feeling, all combine to open our heart and expanding our awareness so that we are more in tune with and attentive to life and to ourselves. Open your eyes, your hearing eyes. Open your heart, your seeing heart. Listen between the lines. Peace to you this day. Peace. 
7:27 am edt 

Monday, April 25, 2005

Peace Pops
Ben&Jerry's ice cream has an ice cream bar called a Peace Pop. Undoubtedly it is high in cholesterol, sugar, fat, and it is undoubtedly delicious. Why is it that some of the best tasting treats are the least good for our health? Its interesting that something so satisfying yet so "decadent" has been named a Peace Pop. Well, perhaps there is something to the name since the ice cream's name suggests that it is so satisfying one will perhaps be at peace for having consumed it.
How many ice cream bars, cakes, cookies, and candy bars would we have to consume to reach a state of peace? One good thing generally leads to another and another and another. Nothing really gives us lasting satisfaction or "peace" when it comes to consumables. Nothing brings us to a state of nirvana which comes in a wrapper, on a plate, or in a diner. Nothing really gives us that depth of fulfillment, though there is an old expression that "cookin' lasts; love'n don't." In fact, cookin' doesn't last either. At some point our appetite returns or we have eaten too much of a good thing and can't stand the sight of it any more.
Peace pops are,then, a fleeting illusion, and they the ask the question about where peace is to be found rather than provide the solution. Peace pops promise it all, but deliver only temporary satisfaction.
In fact, consuming food or anything we get "hooked" on doesn't lead to peace. Peace is not an external solution but an "inside job." We have to become archeologist's of our internal landscape to reach and touch into peace. And peace is there deep within hidden by all the obstacles to it: rage and anger from the past; denial; laziness; frustration; cravings of many sorts and so forth.But it is there, underneath all of the frustration and unrelieved cravings, needs and emptiness. We merely have to acknowledge it within us and allow it to surface. We must then nurture it and value it and practice cultivating it from within rather than feeding it from "without."
Peace is not a pop. Peace is a practice. Peace to you this day. Peace.
10:01 pm edt 

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Practically There
Remember when you were little and your family was on a car trip? It seemed to take so many much arrive at your destination. How difficult it was to wait in order to get to the place where you could enjoy yourself. Being patient was an enormous challenge, and you probably asked time and again "how much longer?" and your parents probably replied more than once, "we're almost there."
Patience is a critical personal resource we can always use more of. Patience has to be cultivated daily, and perhaps more often than that, actually. Look in your rear view mirror on any highway and you can see impatience at work as drivers jockey for position and open space in which to make their move and leave the pack behind. Patience on the road is a challenge when you are behind a slow driver, too.  Patience is something that develops with practice, and it takes a commitment to nurture it.
Patience for a sense of peace, both personal and social, is a necessity. We may feel impatient for the lack of peace in our lives and in our world, but we must continue to work for it, regardless, and we must hold fast to the notion that we are "practically there." In fact, at a personal level we can be practically there by practicing peace in each challenging moment.
Like a butterfly that lands gently on one's hand for a few brief moments, and if we are open to it, we may actually begin to sense peace touching in with us. We do not try to grasp or capture it. We allow it to meet us, and we are graced by its presence when it alights on us. In brief, clear and glistening moments we experience the power and the presence of peace practically very much here. Let peace alight on your hand or your shoulder today. Namaste. Peace to you. Peace.
6:55 pm edt 

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not Nearly Enough
When we have what seems to be a "good thing" it seems we can't get enough of it. We are like thirsty travelers in the desert receiving a small glass of water to quench a gigantic thirst. We have been so deprived of what we need so desperately that we want to consume more than is available to quench that thirst. Every particle of our body and soul cry out for what we believe will bring us comfort and satisfaction.
The songs "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" and "Constant Craving" both express that sense of frustration and despair over not getting enough of whatever it is we are seeking.  We just don't get enough; our needs go unmet. The ache goes on and on.
So what do we do with the frustration, the thirst, the despair, and the need that goes on aching throughout our lifetime? Do we spend our life angry about it? (I have a friend who laughingly agrees that the words "Its Just Not Fair" would be appropriate on her gravestone.) Do we try to subdue or deny our needs? Do we sublimate our desires into other avenues of fulfillment?
We have so much given to us that it might be beneficial to acknowledge what we do have and sense our actual fulfillment and satisfaction in areas in which we are truly blessed. Consider this: counting our blessings may be worth more than helping us to go to sleep at night. Counting and acknowledging the gifts we take for granted: our health, our senses, our friends, our very lives, awakens an awareness that what we have been yearning for is probably not as critical to our well-being as we have believed itwould be. So many people who have won the lottery have not really become happier; perfect relationships still require lots of emotional work; not having to work doesn't solve all the problems of life. In fact, all the money, alll the romance, all the leisure you can have are not nearly enough for real happiness or satisfaction in most cases.
Perhaps the point at which you can express gratitude is the point at which you do have enough. In fact, at the point of gratitude when you are thankful for what you have, you do have more than enough. Dwell on that for awhile. Peace to you this and every day. Peace.
7:05 pm edt 

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Neighbor
The neighbor behind us is out working in his garden. He is a retired engineer and probably close to or beyond the age of 80 years. He uses a long handled garden hoe but he holds it down low and close to the tool end as he sits on a small bench and reaches down to carefully and methodically break up each small clump of soil. The quality of care he brings to his garden is easily recognizeable even from a distance. We share a wave and a cordial greeting from time to time, but most of what we know of him can be seen in his garden.
Now that the weather has improved, this gentleman spends much of the day out in the sun, shirt off, tending the soil, removing weeds, generating ideas for his Spring planting. He is in communion with his garden, the warming weather, the sweat falling from his brow, the birds celebrating the day. We can see the kind of work he does and we know something of who he is because of that. We appreciate his presence over there and learn from how he nurtures and cares for his small yard.
We may not overlook what is really very visible to us, if we begin to use our awareness as well as our eyes. What are you overlooking? Something or someone within your field of vision may be worthy of a better quality of attention. These neighbors we rarely speak with and hardly know, may be providing us with insights and understandings which too easily escape our awareness. Take another look. Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:37 am edt 

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Today the bells rang from a neighboring church in celebration of the election of a new pope. They broke the daily and mundane business with their sounds of joy. How good that in the age of high technology we still have bells, basic brass or other metal bells to make a statement; to proclaim and announce beyond the spoken word.
In Buddhism the voice of the bell invites one to mindfulness of the present moment. It invites us to bring awareness back to our breath and to experience what is going on at the present moment. It is a refreshing sound like the tap on the shoulder from a good friend saying, "hello there, remember me?" It awakens awareness of life in the present moment and invites us to bring gratitude to that moment, regardless of our struggles, frantic thoughts, or many agendas in it. The bell calls us back and says, "hello, remember that you are alive."
A friend I went to school with many years ago invited me to her Mother's home for a few days. Her Mother was a collector and distributor for a manufacturer of bells of every kind in the world. These were large, small, jingle, cow, temple and every kind of bell imaginable. There was the constant sound of bells in her house. It was a busy house but the Mother herself was not unlike her many bells. She was effervescent, joyful and generous to visitors and eager to share what she had. I doubt she ever aged when I think back to my visit there. One can learn so much from the sound of a bell. Perhaps a lifetime is not enough to absorb it all.
Thich Nhat Han invites the bell to sound. "Listen, Listen...this wonderful sound calls you back to your true self."
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:24 pm edt 

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cherry Blossoms
Have you been to Washington D.C. when the Cherry trees are blooming? It is hard to imagine the amount of abundant beauty and joy these trees produce in Spring. Blooms cover the branches, pop out of the trunks and even spring up at the ground from the tree's roots. They seem so enthusiastic about Spring that they cannot contain themselves. Were it possible, the pink blooms would have blooms, no doubt. The color is as much beyond imagination as is the quantity of bloom each tree produces.
Bradford Pear trees join to celebrate Spring, and Redbuds, Crabapples, Dogwoods, and Apple trees begin to blossom after their long rest. So much is waking up and celebrating the return of the new season. A long cold Winter is a memory now and the season of color is upon our senses inviting us to pay attention.
Indoor plants also respond to the change in light and temperature. Along the window sill the violets reach out toward the light and bloom in small bouquets of soft color. Something stirs in all of life now. Something expresses joy. Something stirs within you and stretches to express new and welcome joys after a season of regeneration. Reach toward the light. Practice your celebrations with unlimited enthusiasm accompanied by the beauty, warmth and light of this new Spring. Let the sun shine in!
Peace to you this day. Peace.
1:19 pm edt 

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fear for Sale
Watch television for a hour and make a list of the number of commercials and news stories which invite you to buy into fear of one thing or another. Fear sells. We have become so accustomed to information gathering through the television that even if we don't get taken in by commercials, we are bombarded by an enormous number of negative possibilities which could materialize in our lives.
If fear didn't sell, commercials would be very different. If fear didn't sell, the news would be different. Scary movies, horror stories, and news programs about attacks do a tremendous amount of business because fear sells.
What did we ever do before we were afraid? What would we do without fear? Would we be so unprepared for challenging events if we did not stay in a place of high alertness prepared for potential disaster?
We need excitement in our lives, but there is clearly another way to obtain it. Life gives us a full palate of possibilities for adventure and enthusiasm. Painting and the arts open doors to expressions of joy,wonder and they raise questions about how meaning and life are constructed. Venture inward rather than outward. Insight and imagination are within you.
2:11 pm edt 

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Lake
As a child I remember family vacations at an old victorian cottage on an island at a nearby lake. One of my favorite times there was in the evening after the sounds of the day had passed.  The only sounds remaining after night had come were the sound of water lapping at the shore and sounds from a small paddle wheel boat which played gentle organ music as it passed by the island. There was nothing more pleasant or peaceful than this island at dusk.
The lake was also a wonderful place for boating and rowing through lily pads.  You could see and hear the  drops of water from the oars land on the lily pads as you passed through small but vibrant blooms of whitish yellow and pink. Such serenity and beauty at the lake.
There was, however, an interruption in the peacefulness of the island. A large dalmation brought along by the neighbors roamed the island freely in those days. It was probably a very friendly dog, but small children were especially frightened of it, and they would run to their parents for safety when they saw it. Most likely, the enthusiastic young dog only wanted to play, but the children were terrified of its size and unpredictable jumping.  It seemed the only disruption in a place of beauty and peaceful escape.
How often do we now as adults perceive a threat where there is only an invitation to fun? Do we run from the unpredictable and our passions in an attempt to manage and control our peaceful island of calm? What might we be missing out on in the process? Sometimes we need a romp with enthusiasm. The old expression, "enjoy!" carries the invitation well.  Enjoy yourself--don't run away. Embrace spontaneity today!  
Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:49 am edt 

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Making Space
When you find yourself engaged in a serious discussion with strong opinions voiced by you and others, a good practice is to consider making space for difference. Instead of digging in your heels and self righteously holding firm to your perspective and opinion, make an allowance for another viewpoint.
Children fighting over toys pull and push at one another or hold on tightly to a toy until an adult-- a parent or teacher-- intervenes and creates some rules or boundaries for sharing or taking turns with the toy. We learn some of our most basic lessons by this kind of interaction, but we often forget them when as adults it comes to our own beliefs and values.
No one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom and wisdom acknowledges that truth. Make space for differences of opinion and you will actually find more room for your own truth. We can close the shutters of our mind too easily. There is always something to be learned. Make space for other viewpoints, even while you state your own.Keep the windows of your mind open.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
10:33 pm edt 

Monday, April 11, 2005

Breathe Easy
Our breath is life living and moving within us as much as our heart beating confirms and celebrates our connection with the pulse of life. We hold our breath in expectation, we whisper beneath our breath, we sigh as we release tension or express boredom and we breathe easy when a crisis has passed. Our breath responds and reflects the inner tensions we pass through in this life.
Going back to the breath during times of stress is a way to move through issues with more calmness. Following the breath and focussing on it rather than what may be going on externally brings one back to a place of calm and peacefulness. Trusting your breath as the foundation of your life and joining it with your awareness repositions you and provides perspective during difficult times.
Your breath invites you to join it anytime you would like to regain a sense of composure. Compose yourself by recognizing that your awareness and your breathing can make all the difference. Peace to you this day. Peace.
5:03 pm edt 

Saturday, April 9, 2005

Springtime brings daffodils, tulips, forsythia and an abundance of new life coming back to bring color and energy to gardens and yards. Along with the bulbs we planted last fall, a new crop of thistles, dandylions and many other varieties of weeds are hustling back to celebrate the changing of the season.
Nature always surprises us with its energy and bounty in the Spring. To keep the weeds from spreading, you must work to remove them before they bloom and go to seed.  It is an ongoing and daily challenge to keep up with that task.
Our own nature is like that as well. We feel we have made good progress on our emotions but old feelings we would rather not cultivate reappear seemingly uninvited. There they are again and sometimes they begin to bloom and spread if we do not take care of them.  Thich Nhat Han invites us to not try to remove the old feelings but to take care of them as one would take care of a small child in distress. Acknowledge their presence and the message they bring and bring in other feelings to put them at peace. We do not need to weed out our feelings if we are also there to acknowledge and understand them at the same time that we bring  our care and comfort to them. This is how to garden with awareness and feeling. Peace to you this day. Peace.
2:19 pm edt 

Friday, April 8, 2005

The Peace Quilt
We know of a group of women who have gotten together for years to do quilting. The group finishes up the work started by beloved aunts, grandmothers, and other relatives. They celebrate the work of finishing the task others have designed and begun but for some reason never completed. There is an appreciation and respect for the beauty, the time and commitment involved in each quilt they receive and work on.
How much we have received in the work of others. We can recognize and appreciate the inheritance of devotion and dedication to the same peace work we find ourselves involved in. Our colleagues may not be present with us in the flesh, but their spirit and groundwork or grassroots efforts have positioned us to do our part toward accomplishing the same goals in our own time. It is worth our while and our time to learn something of their work and their efforts.
Peace work is like a parade, we've heard it said, where some members join in as others leave the march, but the parade continues. There is a continuity to the journey toward peace. Who are those you follow in the march? Do you know their names? Do you recognize your inheritance from them? Peace to you this day. Peace.
7:41 pm edt 

Thursday, April 7, 2005

In a Hundred Years
A colleague of ours has often remarked during crises or challenging events:  "In a hundred years, none of this will matter." It is no doubt true that we make too many molehills into mountains and our colleagues' statement gives valuable insight to the changing nature of things. The little battles that we fight and find ourselves so caught up in today are really so small when seen in broader perspective.
There is a story of a Buddhist novice coming to a master and begging to know how to be released from a pillar to which he is chained. The novice has been tied to this pillar for many years and is deeply frustrated by this bondage. After expressing his anger, rage and desire to be free, he waits for the master's response. The master has listened carefully and thoughtfully smiles at the student, saying "You can let go of it."How often we create the chains which bind and hold us in unpleasant situations.
Gaining perspective is like that. We can see things differently when we have a more complete and better understanding of them. Peace to you this day. Peace. 
10:01 am edt 

Monday, April 4, 2005

Tender Moments
A woman we know enjoys her pets a great deal and she makes sure that she spends some time with each individually every day. She calls these times  "tender moments." She doesn't allow for interruptions at these times of connection with her dog or cat and in them, she believes that she herself is receiving as much as she is giving. She is in quiet communion with her companions at these times, and they and she welcome, respect and appreciate that time together.
Life gives us opportunities for tender moments. To receive them we must take the time to appreciate and welcome them. We must allow ourselves to commune with life and to know that life also communes with us therein. In giving and receiving the gift of a tender moment there is renewal and appreciation for life itself. Peace to you this day. Peace.
10:09 am edt 

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Time Change
On this designated day, we all agree to awake an hour later and  to go to bed an hour earlier. Everything shifts on this one day. We as individuals did not make the decision, but that is how it is, and so we accept it. Several states in the country disagree and vote not to join the rest in Daylight Savings Time. Whether the time shifts or not, it is managed by human decision and agreement.
Farmers did not want or need Daylight Savings Time. They pointed out that roosters crow at the break of dawn, whatever time that may be on clocks. Roosters respond to the changing light of day and have no need to "save" daylight.
We change our clocks and our plans to fit the new slice of light we have agreed to. Rather than changing time frames,we might find it a good time to change our times, both personal and social, by acknowledging that the time for peace is here.  Imagine shifting to a place of peace in your personal life. Change yourself; change the world. That can be and is an individual decision.
"The times, they are a changing." Take some time of your own this day and make a decision for  peace. Peace to you this day. Peace.
11:06 am edt 

Saturday, April 2, 2005

The Web of Life, TheWeb of Peace
We are in a time of vigils for those we know but do not know. The media has selected those we know about but do not know personally for heightened attention and "coverage". We stand attentively and expectantly as we hear the news and know that these souls hover on the precipice between life and death. One life, now two lives  become the only lives we select to reverently hold in our thoughts and perhaps prayers. We care because they are part of the web of life.
Beyond media attention, the millions of lives we know nothing of and in places we have no knowledge of are far beyond our imagination. Lives in countries far outside our personal understanding and appreciation are also part of the web of life. The media does not now or will ever know of them. But if one touches a web in one place, the entire web is moved. Knowing this, we understand that all of life reverberates to our actions and our efforts to nurture peace, regardless of the "news".
In truth, we known and unknown are part of a living and historic world community , and we are supported in our work by this knowledge. We  may not make the news as individuals, though the contributions we and all those we do not know make to the progress of peacemaking is vital. We and they contribute to peace in any way possible.
We also are on a vigil. A vigil for peace in our time. You are a part of the web of life as well as the web of peacemaking in this world.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
10:37 am est 

Friday, April 1, 2005

Night Owl
The moon was full last night and, awake at 3 a.m. I heard the call of an owl. Hauntingly beautiful and serene, it was the only sound to be heard on a cold, clear night. At night when all is quiet we can hear more and hear more fully. Even at night with thoughts racing through our busy minds, the call of an owl halts and stops our frenzy and repositions us as listeners in the world.
How much we miss of life by always being the ones speaking. How much is going on beyond the daily news. We are a chattering race during the day. Chatter becomes the extent of our communication with others. We tune into it. We participate in it. We don't go much beyond it. We have lost the ability to commune or share a deeper union and meeting of hearts and minds with one another in the race to obtain as much "news" as possible. 
For just one day, you may want to listen to the sounds of what is going on around you. The whrrr of machinery, whether cars, or building and roadway repair equipment, the ticking of clocks, the slamming of doors, the barking of dogs. What is the world saying? Listen to those you talk with. What is beneath the words? What are their expression;what is their body language? What are they telling you beneath the words? Listen between and beneath the lines.
Silence is also communication. In silence we receive and may become open to deeper connections with others, with our world and with ourselves. There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking.  Night reminds us that there is, if we are awake, the possibility of beauty within that silence. Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:39 am est 

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