The other day I read something that resonated with me on a deep level. It said, “To have peace, we must practice peace.” My immediate reaction was, “Wow, that is so true.”
If you think about it, everything we do in life requires practice. However, we often don’t recognize the things we do on a daily basis as “practice.”
Think back to when we were kids. We often went to “practice” to become better at whatever sport we were playing. Or maybe it was band, or some other group or club we were working to be a part of that required us to meet and “practice” certain skills. Regardless, our coaches required us to “practice” on a regular basis.
As we age, we still practice; we just practice “adult things” now.
To become decent cooks, we follow recipes and “practice” making meals for our families. Eventually we get good and familiar enough to abort the recipe and just go from memory. Nonetheless, we “practice” as we go with each meatloaf or pan of lasagna.
We “practice” whatever skills we use at our jobs. We start out as the underdog or novice. Overtime, as we “practice” our skillset with what is required of us, we become better and better until we master these skills. Then hopefully, we are promoted.
We even “practice” with our kids. As parents, when our children are born, we essentially have been given the responsibility of caring for a tiny human, with little to no “practice”! This is terrifying! But as the years go by, and we “practice” more and more through the experience of raising our children, we become more skilled, knowledgeable, and confident parents.
On the contrary, we can also “practice” negative things in life without even really knowing it.
We can “practice” gossip by participating in toxic, unkind and unhealthy discussions. We can “practice” judgement by ridiculing others, whether out loud or silently in our inner most thoughts. We can “practice” hypocrisy by speaking one way but doing the opposite. We can “practice” agitation and frustration by allowing ourselves to react to every little thing that comes along in our daily life.
All these things, we can “practice”- both positive and negative. And it won’t matter if it’s positive or negative, if you are practicing it, you will become good at it overtime. In other words, whatever we give our attention and energy to, that’s where we will become masters. So why would the topic of being peaceful be any different? The answer is, it’s not.
To have peace in our life and to feel it within our being, we must…you guessed it, PRACTICE!! But what exactly does “practicing peace” look like? Well, let’s break it down.
Our overall attitude can be traced back to the words we speak and the words we speak can be traced back to the thoughts we think. So, the foundation of our peace starts with our thoughts. We must first cultivate peaceful thoughts.
How do we do this? With “practice” of course! This of course, can be a challenge but is 100% attainable. A tip or strategy I love to suggest is doing what I call a “peaceful place meditation”. I do this with all my coaching clients at the beginning of each session. It is a way to decompress from whatever they have dealt with that day, up until the point of their session.
It’s totally simple and this is how you do it. Think of the most peaceful place you have ever been or imagined to be. Close your eyes and go to this place in your mind. Visualize it in the most detail you can. Then take some deep breaths- around 3 to 4 nice, slow, deep breaths. Next, in your mind, experience this peaceful place with all five senses. Think about what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, feels like, even tastes like. Spend 2-3 minutes just experiencing this most peaceful place. As you go about this process, and the more you “practice” it, you will be able to feel as if you are physically in this place.
It never fails. Every single person who does this meditation opens their eyes looking completely relaxed and refreshed. In the moments following this practice, they have total peace. This is just one way to cultivate peaceful thoughts. Spend at least 10 minutes per day creating and thinking about peaceful thoughts. This is “practicing” peace through thoughts.
The next is our speech. If you want to be peaceful you must speak peaceful. Our tongues can be one of the most lethal weapons we have. We all (me included!) must work on taming the tongue. And taming the tongue doesn’t just mean we work to not cuss or use foul language. Yes, this is part of it, but it also means no gossip, slander, judgement, criticism, ridicule, or harsh language. Ouch! That’s tough huh! How many of us slip in that area on a regular basis?? I know I do. But this is one of the areas to “practice” peace. We simply cannot have peace if we are aggressive or inflamed in our speech.
Thirdly, is our attitude. Our attitude over time, as we work to practice peaceful thoughts and words, naturally becomes more peaceful. As this happens the level of joy, contentment and gratitude in our daily lives is sure to increase. Your level of joy is directly connected to your level of peace.
So, do you want more peace? Of course, you do. We all do. The first step for all of us, is to realize we must “practice” this like anything else. Remember when you were young and your parents told you, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, nothing has changed. Except now, you are not practicing to make the team or win the game. You are now practicing to win at life…and a peaceful life is the ultimate victory.