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  • Martha Engeman

Practicing Peace

On Saturday I watched my brand new Granddaughter Maisie peacefully sleep while she was passed from arm to loving arm to meet her extended family in a joyful, noisy environment. The dog sniffed and licked her, the fire truck went by outside with sirens blaring, her older sister squealed, adults shared conversation and the excitement of the Carolina vs Duke basketball game on TV and still Maisie slept. Nothing phased her. She was, at least for those moments, a little Zen baby–the gentle, peaceful eye of the hurricane.

I don’t have any illusions that Maisie will always be this way. Life will happen. She will grow up and make her preferences known. But that night, Maisie was an example for all of us.

Recently in my morning meditation, my Anxious Mind started to awaken with its series of unrelenting questions to which I don’t have answers. For years I have practiced being with whatever emotions come up in meditation and breathing through them. When my anxious mind started, I just stopped and observed. I didn’t try to push her away. Then, what arose from the depth of my soul was this, “You can be here, but I don’t have any energy to give to you.” My anxious mind immediately quieted and I felt peace. I have never had that response. And I have never so easily quieted my anxious mind.

I don’t think for a second that I could have thought my way to that response. What I know for sure is that I needed the awareness that my anxious mind was awakening, and the presence to stop and observe before responding. By being present and giving myself time, I was able to get to the absolute truth of what I was feeling.

As I read about the war in Ukraine, and wonder how to help, I am reminded of the power of practicing peace. Peace starts first with ourselves. Can we look in the mirror without denigrating some part of our body? Can we breathe when someone cuts us off on the highway? Can we notice when we are getting angry or frustrated and pause before reacting? Practicing peace is a lifetime endeavor.

Lately I have been guided to practice something I call silo-ing. I envision myself with my energy reaching down into the earth and up into the heavens creating a column of light. Around that energy is a silo. When I find myself taking on other people’s energies or letting difficult events or experiences pull me down, I say to myself, “silo”. This brings me back to me, connects me with my energy, and if necessary, erects a barrier between me and the outside energy. If you decide to try this, please let me know what your experience is.

There is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty in the world today. While we may not be able to change that reality, we can choose how we react. When we practice peace and presence in our lives, we can truly be with those with whom we interact and we can send peace out into the world. One of the best ways I know to do this is through meditation.


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