Envision Peace, Live Peace

Editors' NoteThis article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Best Practices for Peace in 2015. Read other perspectives here.

Peace Within Us. Peace Around Us. Inner Peace. World Peace.

Peace is within us. We can connect more fully with this inner Peace in a variety of ways. Begin by recognizing that Peace is a part of us no matter what challenges may be encountered. Make time to connect with inner Peace every day. As we become more frequently centered in Peace, we are better able to manifest more Peace in our relationships with others and be part of collective processes of bringing more Peace into the world.

Nature Communion: An ancient and wonderful way to be at Peace is through Nature Communion. Appreciate and celebrate your connection with the Circle of Nature, wherever you may be, for at least a few moments every day. Commune with Nature by taking a quiet walk in a beautiful natural setting with abundant wildlife. As you walk, focus your thoughts on the life around you and reflect on being part of this vibrant, diverse community of Nature. Another way to commune with Nature is to greet the rising of the Sun as you begin each day. As each evening comes on, enjoy the colorful beauty of the sunset. Become more aware of the changing phases of the Moon and pay attention to when and where the Moon rises and sets during the course of a month's time. On a clear night, away from city lights, gaze at stars and planets and meditate on being part of the vastness of the universe. Commune with Nature by being mindful of natural sounds—birds singing, breezes blowing, waters flowing, bonfires crackling. Appreciate the colors, patterns, smells, sounds, and other sensations of a forest, of a mountainside, of a desert, of a seashore, of a prairie, of a garden, of other ecosystems—physically go into these and other environments or journey there through memories, imagination, or by viewing videos, photographs, paintings, or other renderings of natural areas. Take time every day to shift from immersion in human-centric thinking to eco-experience. Attune to the cycles of seasons by paying attention to changes in vegetation, animal life, and weather around you. Experience the Peace that emerges from expanded Nature awareness and Nature wisdom.

Solitude Quietude: Another way to bring more Peace into daily life is by incorporating one or more Solitude Quietude moments into your day. Go to a place where you can be by yourself for a few minutes. Completely unplug –- turn off cell phones, tablets, computers, television, radio, other electronics, and other sources of inputs. Sit comfortably and quietly. Close your eyes. Take deep, slow breaths to clear your mind and relax your body. Still yourself. Just be. The Peace and centeredness that can emerge through Solitude Quietude breaks can be healing, renewing, and refreshing. Begin by doing one of these Solitude Quietude moments during each day, and after establishing this as a daily practice, add more.

Dreaming: Pay closer attention to your Dreams and set aside a few moments each morning to work with them. Review dreams and dream fragments as you awake and before you get up. Note settings, actions, characters, themes, and other dimensions of your dreams as you recall them. If a dream has been full of conflict and disturbing, transform it by calling to mind its narrative, meditatively and peacefully returning to the dream with the intention of having a different narrative and outcome, and then reworking the dream. Journal about your dreams from time to time to enhance understanding and gain insights into their meanings. Deepen your connections with loved ones by sharing dreams with each other.

Voice: Increase your awareness of your voice and develop skills in using it. Do chanting, prayers, affirmations, singing, invocations, and free form toning as part of personal spiritual practice to nurture your soul and connect with inner Peace. Explore ways to alter the volume, pace, and tone of your voice as needed to improve communications and social relationships. Learn how to attentively listen and how to use your voice to bring greater peace and understanding into conversations with others. Have conversations about Peace and Peacemaking with others in a variety of settings.

Home Altar: Establish a place in your home as a focal point for Peaceful practices and spiritual expression. Create and work with a home altar. On a small table, shelf, dresser top, or other suitable area, place at least one symbol to represent one or more aspects of the Divine that is central to your path of religion or spirituality. Also place on the altar candles, incense, natural objects, bell or chimes, plus other ceremonial tools that you wish to work with. To aid Peace meditations, burn relaxing incense, kindle candles, and sound the bell or chime. Honor the Divine, invoke and experience inner Peace. Then envision Peace in the world. Call for and reflect on guidance about ways to bring more Peace into your life and into the world.

Collaboration: Explore some contemporary efforts to bring about more Peace to Planet Earth. Learn about local and global resources for interfaith, international, and multicultural education, dialog, and collaboration. Take time to learn about another culture, another country, and/or another religion. Select and support with time, service, and/or donations at least one organization, project, or event focused on bringing about more understanding, peace, love, and well-being into the world. Envision World Peace, and dedicate yourself to working with others to help to bring this into being.