Michele Hébert is a Raja Yoga and meditation guide who has been associated with Rancho La Puerta for over 30 years. She takes a pause to share wisdom from her meditation practice with us.
Peace, Shalom, Shanti. These words from diverse cultures represent one of the most powerful states of being that man can experience. It is a state of being that is calm, spacious, and expansive. It is, in fact, the greatest gift that you can give to the world.
The great Indian meditation master, Swami Veda Bharati, who the Szekely’s invited to Rancho La Puerta for a series of ashram weeks, taught that the most unselfish thing you can do for the world is to be at peace within yourself. “It is your state of mind that spills through your eyes. Through the position of your shoulders. Through the tone of your voice. Peace is either inside of you or it is not.” You are from moment to moment radiating your state of being into the world.
All of the wisdom traditions teach that our natural state of being is one of peace and joy. When we disconnect from our true state it is easy to get thrown off by the ups and downs of life’s events and — as we are living through right now — catastrophic events.
Peace emerges from a stable mind. The stable mind is calm everywhere—in the middle of a pandemic, a crowd, or a shopping center. How do we achieve a stable mind? How do we achieve this elusive peace? The practice of meditation leads us to this state of inner peace, and from it we live, move, and have our being.
The following are two short peacemaking practices that can help you quickly recenter and can be used throughout the day.
Two Minute Meditation
Please sit with an erect spine, place your palms on the thighs, and gently close your eyes, calmly breathing through your nostrils.
- For the first minute, feel the coolness of the in-breath and the warmth of the out-breath in the nostrils.
- For the second-minute repeat one of the following words: Peace, Shanti or Shalom, perfectly repeated on the breath flow, until you feel yourself becoming the meaning of what these words represent.
Here you are using the tools of breath and sacred word to dive beneath the mind into the core of your being.
Peace Mudra Practice
In the Indian culture, hundreds of hand gestures (think yoga poses for the hands) called “mudras” are said to intensify and bring out different aspects ourselves. The powerful mudra of “peace” is depicted below.
- Sit comfortably, either on a chair or on a cushion, with the spine erect.
- Bend the elbows and bring the palms in front of the shoulders, palms facing forward and fingers rigid.
- Make a circle with the thumb and forefinger of both hands.
- Begin repeating your chosen peace mantra (Peace, Shanti or Shalom), calling forth that deeper aspect of yourself, and feel it moving from deep within out into your body, into the room, spreading out into your city, across the country, and around the globe.
Actions to Support Inner Peace
Focus on what is right with the world. The media is quick to tell us what is going wrong in the world. But what about all the things that are going right? For example, places in the world that are of peace, and the multitudes of peacemakers bringing their light into the world. Our minds are powerful tools and are like radio waves that we send out into the environment.
- Be aware and vigilant of your thoughts, attitudes, and judgments. Replace feelings of frustration with gratitude. As soon as you catch yourself in a state that is not calm, replace what you are thinking with something you are grateful for. Gratitude thoughts will instantly bring you back to a place of peace. And an added bonus: thoughts of gratitude have been found to improve the immune system.
- When we harbor resentment towards others, we are poisoning ourselves. When we forgive others, we are healing ourselves.
- Service to others. The truth is we are one. We see ourselves as separate, but that is not the case. When we serve and bring peace to others, we are given it back a hundred-fold.
- And finally, two minutes of stillness here and there throughout the day will bring you into the perfect present moment from which springs forth eternal peace, harmony, and well-being.