Peace, more than an absence of war

It's the second week of Advent, this week it's the candle of Peace.

How you interpret the word peace depends on who you are, and most likely where or who you live with. If you are in a country experiencing war, it could mean a cease to hostilities. Then again if you are a mum it might be having the chance to go to the toilet undisturbed. I never really understood that until I had my own children. Or if you have multiple children, maybe them not squabbling for at least 5 minutes. And then it could be the boy down the street not practicing his drums, while you are trying to take a nap, get the baby to sleep or work on that important assignment.

What does peace mean to you? Never really thought about it?

Most of us don’t, as peace isn’t often something we think about, until we need it. I always thought of peace as a utopia where everyone was happy and liked each other. A place where there was no conflict. That was until I read a quote many years ago by Baruch Spinoza, a 17th Century Jewish-Dutch philosopher.

Peace is not absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

His words caught my attention and started me thinking about what peace really is and what it means to me. My philosophical moment was brief, and I settled back into raising a family, running a business and doing a million, yes, I exaggerate, other things. Peace was the last thing on my mind, although probably the very thing I needed.

That was until this year. COVID hit, and suddenly peace was the very thing I needed in the chaos of an uncertain world. Spinoza’s words bobbed up from the depths of my subconscious, and I started thinking about them again. That led me to study mindfulness and how it can be used in coaching.

What I realized is that peace isn’t calm or the absence of war, it is a way of living. 

It is being able to anchor and ground myself as the chaos swirls around me. In the midst of everything often the only thing I can control is me, and my response to what is happening around me.

Previously I would have run around like a chook with its head cut off, my blood pressure and stress levels rising. I did a pretty good job of that! Now I stop and take a moment and acknowledge my feelings and fear. Depending on the situation I may still rant and rave, but not for long. Then I respond to what I can do something about and recognize what I can’t have an impact on and let it go. Sometimes I may even seek help if it’s needed.

Like anything it takes practice.

It is a rinse and repeat process, as the thoughts can creep back into my mind, especially at night. It’s never too late to start creating your own calm in the storm.

This year, as the festive season swirls around you, my hope is that you not only find a place of peace, but that you live peace. And you are the calm eye in the middle of the chaos of Christmas.

Peace, more than an absence of war
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