Let it Begin With Me

“Adopting an attitude of universal responsibility is essentially a personal matter. The real test of compassion is not what we say in abstract discussions but how we conduct ourselves in daily life.”  Dalai Lama

I was recently on a glorious vacation in Los Angeles. I took ten days off to play, rejuvenate and get some well-needed sunshine with my family. I was aware during my “time off” that the political crisis in Iraq was heating up.

I don’t often feel directly vulnerable to the threat of terrorism. I live in a small rural city in New Hampshire; for the most part I have the luxury (or the illusion) of feeling safe in my physical environment.

During the days in LA I was inundated and saturated with newspapers and media. After all, there I was in the heart of a major possible terrorist target. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the LA Times, I was irresistibly drawn to the stories about bombs and chemical warfare and small pox horrors. I looked around at the hundreds of people on the streets and wondered what would happen if there was an emergency? The thought left me cold.

The day before we were scheduled to fly home the security rating went up a notch to high alert. I was starting to truly be concerned about getting on an airplane.

I wanted to quell my anxiety; I certainly didn’t want my daughter to pick up on my fears and be worried about flying home.

Then, it occurred to me. “They” were winning. I was experiencing terrorism. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of terrorism is “use of force or threats to demoralize or intimidate.” And it was working.

In that moment I realized it was my choice to stay afraid or not. I became aware of the “game” that is being played and how easily I fell into it. Suddenly, I felt a calm and a resolve that I wouldn’t let my life be dictated by fear. I became aware of the balance between staying informed and getting sucked in. The tide of fear was turning.

I began to realize whether there is peace in my life or not comes down to my responsibility. Said another way, my ability to respond begins with my thoughts and moves to my actions. It’s all I have control over. Yes, it’s my preference not to go to war with Iraq, and can I start by not going to war within myself?

How do you respond to fear in your life? Here are five suggestions for building the ability to respond to your world.

1. Your thoughts have power and can become manifest as your reality. Like attracts like. Are you aware of what you spend your time thinking about? You can’t create peace if you are focused on being afraid. The more you resist what you don’t agree with and argue with the reality of what is, the more you will contribute to what you don’t want. Learn to witness your thoughts, see them as just your thoughts, not you.

2. Become conscious of how much you are watching the news and reading the newspapers. Media is designed to keep you afraid, disempowered and sucked in to reacting from fear in the name of keeping you informed. You chose what you feed your soul with. Is it based in love or fear?

3. Spend some time every day creating a “visionary reality” of what your world can look and feel like. Imagine a point in the future and paint in the details for yourself. Envision, not only your own personal environment, but also the whole world.

4. Create peace and compassion from within. What are the emotions that perpetuate a downward spiral of negativity directed both at you and at others? Is it blame, guilt, shame?  What do you need to do, what kind of support do you need to handle this? Become a beacon of light radiant with peace.

5. Realize you make a difference. As Henry Ford said,” Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”

As you build your ability to respond, your whole life will change and flow and feel more peaceful. Others will feel it too. As Jesus said, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

I let it begin with me; I got on that plane and felt at peace. I felt powerful that I had continued to live my life free of the terrorizing thoughts that threatened to not only ruin my vacation but also have control over my life.

It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!

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