Greetings to all who are reading! Khalilah here, local Peace Dancer and “Metta”maker of the modern world. (“Metta” is the Sanskrit word for peace.) The thing that makes me such a prolific metta maker is my firm resolve, knowledge and certainty that peace is an innate part of nature, human nature, the Earth’s seasonal rhythms and life itself. Life has many parts and peace is an essential one.
Speaking of essential, I’m writing this story from my bedroom as we officially cross over into the third month of sheltering in place. This new lifestyle thrust upon us by necessity has had an interesting effect on the ways that we interact. The way that we relate to the world and each other has changed. No hugs. Absolutely no coughing in public. No gym and (OH MY GOD!) no accessible swimming pools! In California?! What?!
When we focus on what we are missing, it’s easy to feel deprived or discouraged. Never fear. This Week in Peace—an ongoing series of written meditations—is on a mission dedicated to shifting our focus on the everyday good that unites us. Scientific studies have now proven that whatever we focus on expands by leaps and bounds. It’s high time for us to train our focus on the unlimited good underway right now.
If you ask 10 people, “How’s quarantine treating you?” you will get 10 answers, each different from the rest. While it’s true that each person and situation is unique, it also happens to be true that what we believe as a society touches us all. In the past six weeks, I have collected multiple staggering conclusions from people, including but not limited to:
- “Masks make it easier to hide emotions.”
- “ People seem more hostile now.”
- “The world is never going to go back to normal. Our old way of life is gone.”
- “I can’t believe how quickly everything changed!”
- “There’s nothing we can do about any of this. It’s out of our hands.”
These statements are only words. They have absolutely no power or meaning except for what we assign to them. What we believe shapes our life experiences for better or for worse. Beliefs are like seeds planted in a garden. We water them with our attention. We feed them by repeating them to ourselves and others.
From there, beliefs grow from a little seed to a mighty oak. Why not plant delicious, juicy, worthy seeds in our mind gardens? The mind is the most fertile garden there is. The seeds that we plant there can nourish or poison us. It’s all in the way we believe. It’s not what we tell ourselves. It’s what we hold in our secret heart to be true. Because beliefs govern our lives, they are worth examining.
The following are a few observations that have proven true in my own life experience. I focus on these because they provide me hope, strength and much needed joy. In turn, I use my life giving beliefs to encourage myself and others to be at peace. Allow these to flow through your mind and awareness, noticing the sensations, reactions or objections within. Based on those small, personal, private inner answers, we can reform our conclusions into empowering beliefs that work for us.
- “We are taking this opportunity to be more creative.”
- “Nature is restorative. We have a greater appreciation for it.”
- “People driving on the roads seem more patient and peaceful.”
- “We are all doing our best and we all want the best for our fellow humans.”
- “It’s nice to see families spending time together.”
- “We have a chance to build something better going forward.”
How did those statements make you feel? Did it seem like the ramblings of a sheltered Pollyana type person? Did it seem foolish or naive? Any reaction we may have is the correct reaction if we are willing to look honestly and objectively at it. Each person has the power to put focused attention on anything they choose.
Once we discover the current state of our beliefs, we can transform ourselves and the world around us for the better. How? By uprooting the beliefs that cause us fear and suffering. By doing this, we have more space in our gardens to plant affirming, loving, hopeful beliefs that uplift us. Play with this technique today and see what happens.
Khalialah Ramirez is an artist, educator and author based in San Jose. To keep up with her latest work, go to Patreon or thedanceofpeace.org. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].