“Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say, ‘Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.’ What is ‘this’? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another ‘this’ that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace in this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise there is only ‘the hope of peace some day.’ “
– Thich Nhat Hanh (from his book “The sun in my heart”)
Happy New year 2018! I hope that the year is off to a peaceful and positive start for you. I realize that it has been a long time since I have written a post – but this “blogging” is all new to me and as mentioned previously I am not one of those frequent writers. So you can probably only expect just a few posts a year from me, as and when I am inspired to write one. 🙂
Since it is the start of a brand new year, I felt inspired to write this post based on a lot of reflecting that I have been doing since December. Over the New year I had the chance to reflect about 2017 and transition to the new year, while spending a few days up north in the serenity of Sugar ridge.
So…2017 was a tough year. In my personal life and it feels like in the world also. However, to keep it in perspective, definitely NOT the toughest I have experienced thankfully! So much happens in a year, and this past year was full of transitions for me. Though transitions has been the “name of the game” for most of my adult life especially as I went through the arduous and never ending process of grad school.
I’m a little tired of transitions and find myself sometimes hoping to get to a “stable” place in the near future. I have found myself getting caught in these moments, by the busyness around me, the desiring to be somewhere different. While I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with having dreams and wishes, the more I get caught in these moments, the more I notice way too many people around me trying to “fast track” through life – going through the motions, working working working, keeping busy, trying to get through the “difficult periods” as fast as possible – to try and get to this more peaceful and happier place, to eventually reap the rewards of our hard work. Almost as if with a hope that one day this “busyness” and “rut” will perhaps “end.” I’ve actually had people express this to me. It’s interesting! Maybe…if we just pause to consider…perhaps it won’t ever end but instead just transition to a different kind of busyness and rut in the so-called “end.”
I have had a few glimpses of that in the past year. Sometimes, especially when the “going gets really rough”, it can feel like we want to fast track. There is nothing wrong with wishing and hoping for things to be better I don’t think. At the same time our hearts know that “the only way out is through.”
But then, I remember the above quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, whose work has been so influential on my journey, and particularly this quote which I also share in many of my groups. Being on this path has made me realize that my journey, particularly in the last couple of years, has mostly been about creating the life that I want to live. Conducting international field research for my dissertation. Moving out west to learn and gain new experiences. Leaving a full time job to do more of what I love. Having some anxiety but mostly trusting in the unknown, and in myself, trusting in my strength and resilience. When we work towards creating the life we want to live (rather than waiting or hoping for it to happen and just “fall into our lap”) it’s not going to be without many downs and obstacles. Sometimes it is easy to get pulled down by them and forget why you practice. Fortunately, it is not long before I feel the strength of my practice coming through – reminding me to have trust and stay committed.
Peace and happiness come in the moment and I am grateful to have many more moments each day where I feel this and remember this, even outside my formal yoga and meditation practice. I have been through many obstacles and difficult periods in my life – but never have I felt more inspired than now, to live and to give. I feel peaceful and optimistic about 2018, not just for me, but for everyone. And I feel so excited when I think about the adventures yet to come!
This is the realization I have had during the transition of 2017 to 2018. I’m reminded a lot of the “entrepreneurial spirit” that perseveres despite challenges and expects that the journey will not be without obstacles and “downs”. Yet we know deep down that we cannot “fast track” through life and difficult periods and miss the many good moments along the way – neither is it worth it to go through the rut and keep busy and working away for salvation of the “vacation” that will give us the break finally and PEACE! Is it?
Yet many do. I choose not to I suppose. I choose to create space for more moments of peace and joy in each day. This means staying connected to myself – my inner experience, where the truth resides – and tapping into that peaceful place of knowing. And surrounding myself with people who support this process. This means that we expect that “downs” are going to come, and know we cannot fast track through these to get to the “happier side” as much as we may want to. Helen Keller has a beautiful quote in which she said, “The world is full of suffering. And it is also full of overcoming it.”
Ultimately fast-tracking through life does not feel worth it as I am not cherishing the abundant and wonderous life I already have. The more I am crafting my life, the more I learn, the more I trust this inner “knowing,” and the happier I feel 🙂 So I can truly say without hesitation, that despite the obstacles and challenges, the rewards of living wholeheartedly and creating the life I want to live definitely outweigh the negative aspects and are oh so worth it!
Here’s my wish that 2018 brings you whatever you may need and many moments of peace!