“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor E. Frankl
This week my country celebrates July 4th as Independence Day. The holiday marks the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by the 1776 Second Continental Congress when my forefathers declared our freedom from Great Britain.
While the last few years have been cited as the reason many in America feel oppressed, in truth, significant swaths of our population have never been free. At least not like it was described in the history books I studied as a kid.
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom. And who, what or in what circumstances I truly feel free.
I realized something.
My freedom comes from an inner sense of peace. While laws, ordinances and Supreme Court rulings can restrict my actions, movements and outside choices, my freedom lies in my ability to choose my response. As Dr. Frankl says in the quote above, “In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
As much as I speak about the Be Love Principles, it’s difficult for me to feel loved or loving if I’m not at peace.
I’m not suggesting we all deny world events and “pretend” we’re fine. Quite the contrary.
I’m suggesting that to find lasting solutions to the very real issues plaquing our world today we must start to act from the place of our own inner peace. That sentiment is beautifully stated by Native American Chief Shenandoah (who led the Oneidas people to fight along side the colonists in the Revolutionary War):
“It is no longer good enough to cry peace.
We must act peace, live peace, and live in peace.”
So how do we find inner peace? In addition to the methods I usually suggest (meditation, using the Be Love Principles and a daily spiritual practice) I’ve recently been given what I call a “Peace Prayer.” This idea came as I recognized that no matter what was happening in my outer world, there were powerful examples of peace and kindness quietly playing out…everywhere.
In my backyard as I watched butterflies gently land on my deck, I felt peace. In my hometown as neighbors with vastly differing political views helped each other clean up after a devastating windstorm, I witnessed peaceful cooperation. In hospitals, healing circles, on the playground, meditation retreats, in each sunrise and sunset…I recognized examples of peace everywhere I looked.
On a day when I was feeling particularly vulnerable, and hopeless, I wondered, “what if I looked for the peace that’s already in me? In my personal world?”
Out of that inquiry the following metta style prayer flowed:
“I recognize and honor
the peace in my mind,
the peace in my heart,
the peace in my body,
the peace in my marriage,
the peace in my family,
the peace in my business,
the peace in my community,
the peace in my country,
the peace in my world.”
As I started practicing this prayer morning, night and in between, my feelings started to shift. I used this in conjunction with my daily Be Love Principles practice and found new clarity in my morning ritual.
By recognizing the peace that already existed in the truest part of me, I had opened the door to finding more. Of everything. Peace. Love. Joy. And the truest sense of freedom.
The real freedom that does not depend on laws, permission, or approval by others. Real personal freedom only comes from recognizing and living from inner divine love.
And from that place of love, I can be guided to act in the world to encourage and support true freedom for all. I invite you to use this prayer and customize the categories to make it your own.
In the Workbook Lesson 185 of A Course in Miracles it says in part:
"The mind which means that all it wants is peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is attained. And when the wish for peace is genuine, the means for finding it are given in a form each mind which seeks for it in honesty can understand."
Together we can find the peace that already exists in ourselves then bring peace to our families, peace to our communities and peace to our world.