As I was pondering what to write about for this month’s blog, I thought about all of the negativity and conflict surrounding the election, all of the horrible acts of violence we see on the news, in movies and video games and all of the unspoken violence that occurs behind closed doors. I also thought about all of the conflict that arises when families get together for what is supposed to be enjoyable family time during the holidays and I thought of peace. How can we find and maintain peace during stressful times or when we are inundated with violent images, words and behaviors?
The first thing I thought of was shutting off all electronic gadgets that bombard our senses with so much violence. Our brains need a break from all of the negativity and violence. We have become so accustomed to seeing and hearing it that we have become desensitized to it. We don’t realize how much those images have been absorbed into our psyche and affect how we feel and how we respond to the world. We have become less compassionate toward ourselves and others. We have learned to shut down our feelings because if we allowed ourselves to feel the pain we witness through the media every day, we would have difficulty functioning. We may find ourselves in tears curled up in a ball with blankets over our heads, withdrawing from the world. Although we may not go to this extreme, there are many ways that we withdraw. How about those electronic gadgets that everybody carries with them, constantly looking at them and answering every little beep, buzzer, whistle or musical tone? Don’t we use them as an escape from the violence and pain? We may use them to escape, but do we find the peace we are seeking when we are scrolling through emails, social media feeds and watching YouTube videos?
The next thing I thought of was the beautiful fall weather, the crisp air, the golds, reds, purples and oranges of the leaves as they turn and let go of the branches to which they have been bound. We enjoyed a day trip to Indian Cave State Park yesterday. Although we missed the height of the fall colors, it was still relaxing to get out in the fresh air and see the natural beauty that we forget exists when we are cooped up indoors with all of our indoor comforts and distractions. The crunching leaves underfoot as we hiked up a steep trail, the smell of campfires, watching the squirrels scurry around collecting acorns and nuts for winter, the birds flying overhead, woodpeckers looking for food in dead trees, the river current carrying fallen leaves downstream, and the absence of traffic noise brought a sense of peacefulness and calm to my family. My son commented, “We need to do this more often!” He is a “millennial” and is accustomed to being on electronic gadgets, but out there, he got a break. There is no Wi-Fi and the cellular connections are limited. Disconnecting from technology and connecting with nature can offer a sense of peace.
The last thing I will address is taking time for yourself, to have fun, to have quiet time doing something you enjoy, to get lost in something creative. In other words, slow everything down, stop doing so much and just “be” in the moment. I had a professor, Kent Estes, who once said to me, “Kolleen, you are a human being, not a human doing.” I have remembered this and have used it often as a reminder to myself and to my clients. We are bombarded with so much information every second of every day that our senses have become overloaded. In order to find peace, we need to take a step back from everything, take a look inside ourselves to check in and get in touch with who we really are, breathe deeply and remind ourselves that “all is well.”
As we prepare to go to the polls next week and we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, take time to relax and connect with your inner peace. If you haven’t tried meditation, this may be a good time to try it out, even if it is just for three to five minutes a day. Unplug, literally, from all of the negative images and commentary that steal your peace of mind and spirit. As one of my childhood favorite church songs says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”