If You Want A Peace-Filled Life, Practice These 5 Things Every. Single. Day

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If You Want A Peace-Filled Life, Practice These 5 Thing
Self

During the stress of life we need to pause and find our peace.

A few years ago, while traveling through South Carolina, I was touring an old barn when I noticed, above me in the ceiling, a large bird was frantically trying to escape the barn. The bird continued to fly into the closed window in its frantic desire to escape the barn.

Attempt after attempt, nothing changed for the bird. It flew towards the closed window, smashed into the window, and once again flew into the closed window. Presumably unbeknownst to this anxious bird, the barn doors, one on each end of the barn, were wide open!

Had the frantic bird simply stopped a moment to observe its surroundings, it would have noticed a very easy escape into the freedom of the outside sky. Yet, the bird was so focused on the task in front of it that it failed to see any alternate options.

I mention this story as I recalled it a couple days ago while at my house. I happened upon a butterfly, who, in a similar manner to the bird I described above, was frantically flying against a screen on my porch in an attempt to escape the enclosure.

Also, similar to the story above, immediately behind the butterfly was the open door. Yet, as in the story of the bird, the butterfly also did not pause to observe its surroundings. Instead, the butterfly continued flying into the screen (as a side note, I did help the butterfly to escape).

I empathize with both the bird and the butterfly for I too have found myself "banging my head" against that fictitious window or screen in an attempt to either change my life's course or to escape some emotion which I was not willing to face.

It has taken decades for me to begin to learn how to relieve stress by knowing the benefits of living in the moment and simply be.

In my writings and public speaking, I talk often of mindfulness. This is a state of active and open attention on the present. Carefully observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad.

Mindfulness means living in the moment and being aware of your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

As I reflect on the bird and butterfly, I realize that I am not much different from them in that I tend to allow my emotions and crisis moments to take control of my focus. Yet, in my focused awareness (mindfulness), I’m able to see solutions...to see hope.

My journey from a life of harried busy-ness and much stress to a life of mindful reflection and life coaching did not come easy. Over time, I began to slowly realize that banging my head on a closed window or a screen was getting me nothing but a headache.

It took strength to stop myself long enough to desire to look around at my world. Once I stopped and looked around, I noticed options and solutions in my life.

The insightful and wise Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book The Art of Mindfulness, reflects on what he calls the "Five Mindfulness Trainings". These "trainings" are intended to guide us to be mindful of ourselves, our pain, and the world around us.

Many of us — myself included — purposely use electronic devices, reading materials, and sometimes even exercise, as a means of distracting ourselves from our reality. As with the bird and the butterfly, not stopping to notice our world does not give the freedom for which we seek.

Here are the "Five Mindfulness Trainings" from Thich Nhat Hanh:

  1. Compassion
  2. Generosity
  3. True love
  4. Deep listening
  5. Cultivating good health

When we do our best to accomplish these five trainings, we have set up our thoughts and actions to be mindful in a state of active and open attention on the present.

These trainings are not meant solely for others. That is, we don't only offer others our compassion, generosity, love, listening, and health. But we also give these to ourselves as well.

In mindful awareness, we need to be compassionate with ourselves, generous to ourselves, loving oneself, listening to our mind and our body, and give ourselves good health. By taking care of ourselves in this way, we achieve a deep and true inner peace.

Aware of the plight of both the bird and the butterfly as told in the beginning of this article, I encourage all of us not to continually bang our heads in frustration, but in freedom, to learn to live mindfully.

Chris Shea can guide you to finding inner peace. Find out how with a free 15-minute phone consultation. Online sessions are available. Contact Chris about how coaching and life counseling can make your life peaceful and less anxious. Chris is the founder, life coach & counselor at Lifesjourney Life Coaching, LLC.

Watch this TED Talk by Shauna Shapiro about the power of mindfuless.

This article was originally published at Lifesjourney Life Coaching, LLC. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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