Most of us have read or heard about how we can accomplish equanimity in our days. We heard about this peace, and yet, it seems overly used and solely far-fetched. It does sound pessimistic but with so many people looking to attain rest even with the help of prescription drugs, alcohol and other vices, there seems to be a disconnect. What if you can bring some sense of calm and serenity amidst the noisiness in life? Most people equate peace to happiness and this is a misguided thought. We feel elated for not having to deal with traffic in the morning, or happy we got a raise, but this is fleeting as there is always an expiration date on a peace based on feelings. Teacher and author Eckhart Tolle offered insight saying peace is resistant to the contradictions of life and is a resolute force. You need to "Recognize that you're more than your body and your mind," he said. Once we can understand this, we can have peace. Many Jews practice peace by going to the Torah, by praying, worshipping and reflecting on the goodness of God. This translates into better health, solace, and a more friendly life. Here are ways to bring peace into your day, the Jewish way.
Ride the wave of challenges."A righteous man falls down 7 times and gets up," King Solomon wrote in Proverbs. Life is all about the capacity to get up from challenges and to ride it out. The Torah actually backs this up because it defines someone who is powerful and holy as a person who has endured hardships. Doubt is the biggest deterrent to your hope and to your peace. When doubtful thoughts bubble-up, immediately give them a warning. Replace them with hope and faith-filled words. Like King Solomon said you need to get back up after being stricken with difficulties.
Allow the Jewish Proverbs to transform you.Jewish Proverbs are a tool for God to use and it can be transformational if you enable it to be. No matter what religion you practice, allow the teachings to shape how you perceive life and how you react to it. Once you absorb the feelings of peace coming from the teachings, you can begin to practice it in your life. "Great is peace since all other blessings are included in it. The only reason that the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world was so that there would be peace among humankind," said the Midrash. Not only are you blessed, according to the Midrash, you have peace, too.
Reflect on those who overcame hurdles.Sometimes it helps to find stories in Jewish history to help encourage you. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him,” we find in Deuteronomy. God was talking about the prophet Moses. Moses had a calling, but also lost everything and still followed God. Although it was difficult he found peace in the midst of his troubles. Moses had a rough past and when he was 40 years-old, he killed an Egyptian taskmaster for beating a Hebrew slave. But God still allowed Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. How did this happen? He communicated honestly with God about his fears and kept his hope and peace alive. If you want peace look to leaders who failed and found a renewed hope. Other leaders like King David and Abraham also struggled, but they followed God's plan and eventually found everlasting contentment.
Stop worrying."If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?," Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said. The purpose of life is to improve one's character, not to allow worry to rattle you. When you feel anxiety coming, think about the power of God and how He's making you a better person every day. Start breathing and allow the air to lift your chest, fill your lungs and then exhale the body into a relaxation mode as you focus on achieving God's purpose for your life. Do this before a meeting, when you're hitting traffic or dealing with any stress.
Take time for prayer.Feeling stressed out? Take 15 minutes to just pray and cultivate inner awareness. Here is a prayer to get started. "Be with me, God. I feel so lost. I can't seem to escape the dark cloud that is hanging over me today. Help me, God. Give me the strength to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain into perspective. Thank you, God." Crystal Park, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut found that prayer can connect and help you to reduce the stress in life. “That peace, that sense of meaning and connection that happens with prayer is what is positive," Park told everydayhealth.com. "Those kinds of things have physiological effects on the body, such as calming your cardiovascular system and reducing your stress." They also found regular attendance at a place worship whether it's a synagogue or church helped alleviate depression in some people. You may not find all the answers, but knowing there is a God who is walking with you can bring a sense of satisfaction.
Take a day off.Many Jewish people observe the Sabbath and this is where they unplug from electronics and from life. Take a Saturday or Sunday and spend time reading, spending time with family or connecting to nature. In Israel, stores close mid-afternoon on Friday until Sunday morning to observe the Sabbath so people can prepare their homes and invite people to honor the Lord. We can request people to break bread, worship and to pray for each other. Besides growing spiritually, this is an opportunity to realize what is important. Work, money and focusing on material things can take your peace. Take time off once a week to focus on what is important.
Having a peaceful heart and mind is the key to a good life. But we all need to work it more by choosing the right thoughts, prayers, by taking time off and connecting to God in a more intimate fashion. The Jewish way to achieve this is practical and can be implemented in many ways. Start to embrace the peace that lasts and which can mold you into a stronger person and into a more viable being. As author Rebbetzin Dena Weinberg said, "There are no problems, only opportunities for growth."