On any given day, if most of us were asked to define “peace,” or to describe what “peace” means to us, some likely responses might be:
Absence of war
All desires or needs met
Yet yesterday, a friend offered a new perspective on Peace. Some background: This friend, “L.,” teaches social policy and is is actively involved in Christian-Jewish relations: In particular, she is drawn to and has led multiple student groups to Israel. There, her aim is to dispel some of the stereotypes and misguided notions that many Christians may have with regard to Israel and its Jews. Primarily, her aim is to show that both sides of any given story have some validity, somewhere, at some point in time. Certainly, she has been immersed in a region and a topic that has spurred her to consider not only the meaning of, but how to achieve Peace.
After one of her trips to Israel, she presented me with a lovely gift. At a market in Jerusalem, she had found a beautiful plaque with but one word: Shalom. From the City of Peace, she had returned with a reminder of Peace. The plaque hangs on my door to this day.
Cut to my recent bout with post-surgical swelling. As previous posts have revealed, I have tried everything—doctors orders, esoteric healing techniques, prayer—to alleviate the condition.
To no avail…
As is her kind-hearted wont, L. had taken my struggle into her heart as part of her morning prayer sessions with her husband. Knowing this, I felt a supportive strength that I felt would undergird my own healing rituals: However, as I described to L. yesterday, the right words with which to frame my intent have eluded me. Sanskrit and Gurmukhi yoga mantras calm me, but seem to have no bearing on my physical concern. My supplications in English yield words or phrases that feel trite, or yield no intuitively “correct” resonance.
As my frustration to discern how and with what to address the swelling grew over the course of the past week, I learned yesterday that L. had begun to center her prayers on Peace. She had been spurred by seeing her gifted plaque on my door: She revisited the meaning of Shalom—and of Peace from a biblical perspective—and discovered its original, intended meaning.
Peace in that regard refers to wholeness, to a centered, aligned union with Spirit. Peace is a state of perfect balance, of harmony. Hearing this, I immediately recognized its inherent value to my situation: Of course Peace would be the antidote to my body’s clear state of imbalance. And although I have addressed this over-saturation of the Water element in my physical body, I did not connect it to the concept of true Peace.
After our conversation, I realized that to pray for the draining of fluid, to ask that it be flushed from my system, signals my distress and dissatisfaction with my body. Rather, I decided to approach the healing from a Heart-centered place: To usher in Peace, the Heart must be open. To regain systemic balance—to instill the perfect wholeness of Peace within—I must first offer the Heart’s love (which in my mind, is born of and ultimately one with God’s Love and Grace).
To that end, I have revamped that which goes into my thoughts and ears; I have shed what I think I need, in favor of what will be given according to God and the timing of the Universe. I now fill my space with sounds and music designed to resonate with the Heart Center; and my prayers and meditations center on coming into alignment with Spirit.
Further, I find this to be a profound lesson in Faith and Healing: Both require ongoing patience and fine-tuning; in order to progress and evolve, both require attitudinal exploration and adjustment. And these continual reassessments extend to all aspects of the living of a spiritual life in this earthly realm, which often can seem antithetical, if not downright inhospitable to spiritual development.
Today’s Silent Sunday, then, is more about helping the Heart call to and welcome Peace: in my case, Peace for healing, Peace to promote physiological and spiritual alignment. The following short practice, though, is designed to address any situation wherein the ego may have usurped the Heart. Whether your personal trial is professional, psychological, socio-political, financial, or spiritual, to center within the Heart will lead you toward the truth of your particular matter: Once the True Way has been revealed, you can begin to move forward with divine guidance.
The practice is short and sweet. Begin standing. Bring both hands to the Heart Center in Prayer Mudra (the classic palm to palm gesture). With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, give yourself a full minute of deep breathing and grounding in the energy of the Heart: As you press the palms firmly together, simultaneously press the edges of the thumbs into the sternum. Give yourself a full minute of this entry into Heart energy: Contemplate the circumstance to be addressed, and commit to the call for Peace. Think not of the negative aspects that drew you to remedy a situation; focus solely on the opening of the Heart.
Still standing, bring your hands behind you, interlacing the fingers. (You may slightly open the eyes to aid balance.) Inhale as you stretch the arms up and away from the body, slightly arching the spine to stretch through the chest; exhale to bend the knees into a small squat as the arms relax down toward the buttocks. Continue this inhale to rise and open the Heart Center, exhale to gently squat and relax the arms behind you, for 3 minutes.
Now, come into a seated position on the floor or a chair. Ensure that the spine is upright and long, and that you feel balanced atop the sit bones: As the body is aligned, it makes way for the energetic alignment of Peace. Here, with eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, once again interlace the fingers, and bring them to the level of the Throat Chakra, palms open and facing down. Inhale, then exhale and forcefully press the interlaced hands down to the Navel Center. Inhale and exhale powerfully through the nose as you lift the hands to throat level and press down to the level of the navel, respectively. Find a steady, fairly rapid pace, and continue to energize the Heart’s magnetic field for 3 minutes.
Next, with your eyes remaining closed, return your focus to that which you seek to remedy. Realign your thoughts with the idea of Peace, of wholeness, of the Heart’s openness to the presence of Peace. Extend both arms straight up, and then open them into a V: Each arm should be at a 60-degree angle from the body. Crook the wrists, so that the palms face up as much as possible, the fingers of each hand pointing out to the sides. In this full-body mudra, begin Breath of Fire, igniting the power of Peace and its partnership with the Heart. Continue for 3 minutes.
Finally, return the hands to the Heart Center. Create Lotus Mudra: From Prayer Mudra, separate the palms while keeping the edges of the thumbs together, and the edges of the pinkies together. The other fingers are straight, with some space between them. As you inhale, draw the essence of Peace into the awaiting vessel of your hands; exhale, and guide it into the Heart. Continue to breathe deeply and steadily through the nose for 3 minutes.
When you have finished, feel free to sit quietly, hands resting palms down on the knees. Or, if you prefer, take Svasana for as long as you like.