Practicing Peace – A 30 Day Plan for Thriving During Challenging Times
Shiloh Sophia McCloud
Practicing Peace is a DAILY walk with mindfulness that takes less than 20 minutes and WILL change how your day goes. Guaranteed! Materials Needed: A Journal
The following practices are to be done daily, with the intention of practicing peace. By practicing peace, and cultivating joyfulness, we can thrive no matter what.
- Prayer: Pray upon waking. Give heartfelt thanks. Before rising meditate on WHO and HOW you will be today no matter what the circumstances. Then choose to “remember” that you have made this decision. Ask yourself, how do I want to show up in the world today? See yourself being like that, looking like that and being experienced like that. Visualize it.Suggestions: Today I will be courageous, I will be kind in all situations, I will radiate peace etc…
- Kindness: Choose that by the days end, you will say a kind word to someone. Challenge yourself with this. Whether it is stopping to tell someone close to you something you are sorry for or blessed for because of them or the check out girl – be extra KIND. And look for opportunities to be that way. Search for them and act on them. Kindness will be repaid to you and it is peace inducing!
- Creativity: Before work or getting into any big part of your day, practice creative writing for a minimum of 5 minutes. Self expression is one of the greatest tools for cultivating a practice of personal peace.Suggestions: Write your prayers. Pray for others on paper. Tell Creator how you feel. Ask for what is needed. Give thanks for what you have. Write down how you will BE today. Create an affirmation of your decision from this.
- Mindfulness: At some point in the middle of your day – lunch or a break. Sit mindfully and cultivate a spirit of peace, and bring to mind your decision from this morning. Feel the experience in your body and heart. Let the reality that you are taking action to improve your challenges through improving who and how you are being – BE a feeling of accomplishment.
- Blessings: Right before bed – get your journal and do a light hearted self assessment of how the process/your decision of how to be went today.
How did it feel to stick to or not stick to, who you said you were going to be today? Did you do you kindness practice, to who, and how did it go? How about your mindfullness, what was that like.
This is a self reflection and self assessment is free of guilt, it is more like a gently noticing. Then count your blessings. Even if it was a hard day, count your blessings as the last thing you do each day. Write who/what you are grateful for. Smile. And chose to sleep really really well. As you fall off the sleep think beautiful thoughts and images, give praises, feel as much sweetness as you can in your body. Let the day be released and let your mind rest. Don’t allow yourself to fret before sleep – give yourself a permission slip to be peaceful no matter what.
Bringing Completion to your process. And if inspired, start another round and adjust it to what works for you!
After 30 days, celebrate your efforts however great or feeble they were. And as you move into your new year, remember that you personally have the power to influence how the year goes – regardless of the economy or circumstance. The power we have to make changes is our challenge, and our gift all in one. Let us choose to continue to thrive and improve, regardless of the challenges, through choosing daily to be our most wonderful selves, and practice peace.
The Peace Practices
A few tips to make this process funner and more satisfying.
Friendly Alarm Clock – I suggest making sure you wake up to a nice sounding alarm, not a beep beep kind, or if you have to have that kind, put it in the other room so it is is not right next to your head.
Tea or Coffee Mug – when you are journaling it is nice to have coffee or tea in a mug you really like, if you don’t have one, buy one just for you and for this purpose.
Creative Threads – Choose a blanket shawl or yummie robe to do your journaling in, something that says, when I put this on, I am writing. Put it on in the morning and at night before you write.
Add Color – get yourself some colored pens or pencils, of if you have one of my journals you can also use watercolors. And when you do you journaling you can do it in color, and draw alongside your entries. I suggest drawing fanciful frames around your entries so the page feels more alive then when there is just text. And, sign your entries.
Get God – I write most of my stuff, or at least I try to – so that someone from any tradition could relate to it, I want it to be useful for the Atheist as well as the Christian as well as the Pagan or the ‘Who Knows’ folks. But for this final tip let me say that finding God is the most useful, powerful and wonderful part of life that makes my own life what it is. A loving Mother and Father Creator who loves me, no matter what.
Blessings to you!
I send you greetings this bright December 1st! I woke up thinking about you again…
and about what so many of us are going through! What a time we are having right now! Whether our challenges are being too busy, being financially stressed or moving through the kind of blues that seem like it will never end, there is always something we can do to lift the dark clouds. I believe!
One of the hardest parts of going through challenging times is that when in the very midst of it, it has this impermeable quality that seems to echo lies like: “this it is how it is now”,which continues to create the sinking feeling we already have. Or we have been skidding downhill for a while now, and it appears there is still very much more skidding ahead, so, despair comes and pounds on the door of our heart and says things like: ”you have been in denial, you are too optimistic, face it, you are going down.”
We have tried red wine and chocolate and festive gathering with friends. We have even tried making a decision to “shop anyway”. But somehow the old quick fixes aren’t fixing. That is because it is not just us – we know of many who are also challenged right now – and it is not that misery loves company because misery is so morbid, it is because we do not want to feel alone in our dark night depth diving.
And so it is clear, we are not alone in our challenges. Really, much of our world is at war, children are being needlessly killed and people are starving, when there is enough food to feed the whole world. How could we not struggle to keep our joy?
To be completely joyful, without mindfulness is a form of ignorance. Positive thinking can keep us from going further down – but what does it do to improve the situation of our neighbor, and frankly, if our neighbor cannot pay their rent, just paying ours does not exactly feel like all is well, now does it? The I’ve got mine now you have to get yours mentality is fading away finally. We have a sense of our connectivity and oneness as a people, a sense that if we are to do well, we must at least wish well for others. Right?
I like to think that compassion is on the rise. The kind of compassion Jesus spoke of when He said things like: no greater gift than a person who lays their life down for their friend. And, Love your neighbor as yourself . And, the biggie, love your enemy.
Or the even bigger biggie, love one another as I have loved you. All of these are tall orders, no matter how you look at them, we are called to profound action on behalf of one another. The good news is, it is one of the best feelings in the whole world, to go beyond oneself on behalf of another.
I am not sharing anything you do not know here – and even my 30 Day plan for Thriving During Challenging Times and Getting Ready for 2010 wont tell you anything you don’t know. But I woke up with a heavy heart – my mind filled with all that is not as it should be in the world, and in my life, and in the lives of those I love.
A heart is full to breaking when we really consider the state of things. Even with ALL the good –which is tons and tons, and thankfully it brings enough light to see by.
Today is my day off, my Sabbath (since I work teaching on Saturdays). But today, because of the heaviness of my heart, I knew I had to get up early, and write a letter to my cosmic community, and then go in and work with the women in my community –today- and share all the cheer and hope that I can! And, add chocolate for good measure.
The very thing that is making us feel depressed or compromised can make us feel more powerful by AWAKENING to what our choices are! Fishing our hard things OUT of the river of denial and taking action is what the doctor ordered. Action and Awareness are the medicine to navigating challenge. The simple act of GETTING present to what is weighing on you changes how the weight FEELS to your body and spirit. Ritual and creativity literally at a molecular level, shift HOW information is in YOUR BODY! And then, of course, in the soul, which carries our whole lives.
I never know what will work or for how long. But I know we can keep trying to create transformation in our lives – we have to. What other choice do we have. So we can do it loving it, thriving from the challenge, or we can do it from absolute resistance. Have you noticed how much energy resisting responsibility really takes? And using creative practices and mindfulness is one of the best ways to get going and get ready for our new year.
Creativity, ritual, daily practices and celebration with community is the way to thrive during challenging times. But it takes a commitment that is not always comfortable, but not doing it, WHEW! So let’s keep working towards our visions for our lives. Let’s keep reaching for the possibilities. Let’s not entertain our dark thoughts too long. Seek the Spirit. Seek life. Seek vitality. It is here always present but we do have to pick up the pen, the paintbrush or the phone to call a friend for tea.