Practicing Peace



“Be the change you want to see in the world.”


You want it, right?

Whether it’s peace of mind, peace on earth, or peace and quiet…no matter how you package it…peace is popular.

So where should you start?

Peace begins with your self. If you want change…be change.

Sure it’s easier said than done. We live in a fast paced world. One with instant messages, instant meals, and instant coffee, but still it’s possible to change. The quickest way to shift from overload to peace is by altering the body.

No, I don’t mean a new belly button ring or tattoo. Instead, shift your body from “fight or flight” into a state of “rest and recovery”.

Here’s how it works. Your body triggers the same alert messages whether you are being chased by a bear, or are worried about your mortgage.

Your heart races. Your breathing becomes shallow. Your digestive system shuts down. Your five senses are focused on survival. These responses are great for escaping from a bear, but they are poor strategies for dealing with long term stresses like mortgages, world affairs, and relationship issues. Instead of running from the bear and then recovering, your body continues to stay in a heightened state until you burn out. This is one of the reasons exercise is so valuable for peace of mind. When you go for a walk, swim or mountain bike your body is getting a chance to physically release from the fight or flight state it is in.

Another secret is to take deep breaths. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but do you know why?

Your breathing rate is controlled by your autonomic nervous system. When you are in a state of survival your breathing becomes shallow and quickens. However, unlike you heart rate and digestive rate you also have the ability to control your breathing. When you consciously take slow deep breaths you instantly shift your nervous system and body from a survival state into a peaceful one.

A third technique you can use to instantly create peace is to stand up straight and let your shoulders relax down and back. When you are stressed your shoulders tend to raise-up by your ears as your head tips forward. This is the same stance a boxer takes as he prepares to fight.

Simply squeezing your shoulders up and then letting them fall down and back will take you out of the fighter’s stance and put you into a relaxed, upright posture.

I’ll be the first to admit that these three exercises are very simple, yet each one works on the nervous system in a different way. Put them to use and you’ll experience that the simplest things in life are often the most powerful…just like peace itself.

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