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Choose Peace – Embrace Life

25 September 2014

 

Choose Peace – Embrace LifeAs humans our bodies have preconditioned responses to threats and/or challenges, whether they’re real or perceived, anything from the attack of a tiger to hostile words from a coworker tends to prompt the “fight or flight” reaction. This automatic response triggers the production and release of adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstreams. Unless we are confronted with an actual physical attack (in which case we need to fight or run away), the fight or flight response can itself be physically harmful and literally cause pain and suffering. If this response arises without real situations, we tend to succumb to a series of conditioned or habitual responses. In our relationships with each other, we may see the other person as our enemy and fail to recognize that they may be facing their own set of fears and challenges.

So how can we prevent responding to another as if they were a charging tiger? One way is to consciously choose a peaceful interaction which will defuse an otherwise awkward, unfavorable or even aggressive reaction. By becoming mindful of yourself you expand your awareness and develop your ability to remain calmly present in nearly any situation. You can always choose to focus your attention on your breath and the sensations you feel pulsing through your body, and this will bring you back in touch with the universal needs that we all share as human beings.

Spiritual traditions down through the ages and recent scientific research both agree that focusing on your breath and remaining aware of bodily sensations have huge benefits for us as we relate to others and the world at large. We are then no longer bound to acting out old habitual patterns and we have the opportunity to become aware of the reaction, and remain present with it, enabling us to choose to stay connected with the very source of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, in turn giving us a larger sense of life and keeping us in touch with our basic and collective human needs.

There are many ways to choose peace and embrace life and some of the easiest are…

Be grateful. The more things you can find to be grateful for on a regular basis, the more you will improve your mental, physical and emotional health, along with your overall outlook on life. Gratitude stimulates the production of the hormonal neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for feeling good and influencing human behavior in many positive ways. Keep reminding yourself that a little gratitude goes a long way, and communicating your gratitude in words and actions will greatly increase your personal peace.

Become your own best friend. This promotes a sense of peace that radiates from within. The Buddha has reportedly said “You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Loving-kindness and compassion start with you and once you’re able to recognize that they originate within you, you can generate a feeling of warmth and love for others so that they may also get a taste of that peace and know it’s the same peace that resides within them.

Practice becoming empathetic. Empathy and compassion are powerful tools for making peace with others. The active principle of empathy is found through understanding, to “stand under” rather than to judge from above. Seek to become more sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings and you’ll automatically become tolerant and forgiving; essential qualities for establishing peace and embracing life.

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500

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