I don’t really believe in “steps”–i.e. the eight steps to success or the six steps to relaxation, etc.–so I’m a little uneasy that I’m posting a piece that sort of has steps. But mine are pretty broad and you have tons of choices about how to accomplish each one. I’ve been contemplating the issue of getting to a place of holding the space of peace for years and synthesizing my odd collection of practices and knowledge to conclude that there are three general components to the process. I’m going to do separate posts that address each one in more detail, so this is just the basics:
- Become mindful—be in the present moment. Even though mindfulness is not the first of the Eight Noble Truths, it is often considered the most key element. Whether you’re trying to examine your beliefs and how they show up in your life or practicing good communication you can’t really succeed unless you’re able to stay in the moment with a mind that’s clear enough to notice what you are thinking or saying or doing.
- Clear old issues. All the anger and tears and fears that you have stuffed down, all the repressed memories of childhood traumas and all the beliefs you don’t even notice are all part of the pattern of your energy and they often define your reality more than your conscious thoughts do. They’re also a big part of what you’re contributing to the web of all life. I don’t think it’s possible to hold all that old stuff and also to “be peace”.
- Change your mind. Replace all those old tapes that run negative thoughts on repeating loops with thoughts about being peaceful, being kind, being healthy, being happy. Surround yourself with as many positive thoughts and images as you can to fill your mind with new thoughts and beliefs.
There are lots of ways to do these steps—pretty much every tradition I’ve encountered has some version of these amongst their practices. Sometimes steps 2 and 3 kind of go together. You have so many choices about how to get there but if you want to get to that place where you are holding the space of lovingkindness and peace then you have to accomplish these three.
See Hanh, Thich Nhat, Being Peace (Parallax Press, 1987).