A Peaceful Mind in a Troubled World

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

As a healer, I can’t help but feel that world today is in a heck of a state – the degree of polarization on the planet, both globally and locally, strikes me as a symptom of deep, underlying disease.

Marcel Hernandez, ND, of Pacific Naturopathic in Mountain View, CaliforniaToday’s widespread polarization and division affect my life and yours on a number of levels, all of them detrimental to our health.

How can we protect ourselves? Even more, how can we become agents of healing for our families, our friends, our neighbors, our countries, and the planet?

I first tried to understand world events by thinking of them in their historical perspective. I asked the standard reporter’s questions: “what, when, where, how, why?” It brought me a level of understanding, but it didn’t satisfy my heart. I longed for the kind of deep intuitive understanding that always suggests solutions.

I realized that the issue that was most troubling to me is that I’ve never really understood what motivates people to purposefully and intentionally want to cause pain to other people. 

Although I’m generally an upbeat, positive fellow, I have to admit that if I spend too much time dwelling on the news these days, it’s a struggle to keep my usual, spontaneous mood of hope, optimism, and joy.

Recent world events leave me feeling tired and drained, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’ve come to understand that if I spend all my time reacting to world events, it has a serious detrimental effect on my body. We are multifaceted, complex beings who exist in a subtle, interconnected network of life. Thus, the negative events taking place in the greater environment, however far away, are bound to affect us.

Enough! Having plumbed the problems, I hear a clarion cry from the spiritual heights of my own nature: “Be careful, Marcel! Don’t let yourself become infected by the negativity – seek solutions instead, in the superconscious realm that holds answers to every problem.”

The spiritual realm is where true understanding lies.

A basic practice of all meditative spiritual paths is “mindfulness” – the practice of simply observing the flow of life without reacting emotionally. The idea of mindfulness is that we cannot see things as they truly are until we’ve achieved a certain level of emotional detachment.

The miracle of mindfulness is that the inner journey of calm, detached observation opens doors to a higher level of mind that is permeated with love, compassion, and understanding.

We can never overcome chaos and aggression at the level on which they exist. Meeting violence with violence just compounds the problems and increases the chaos.

When someone asked the Dalai Lama how we should deal with all the chaos in today’s world, he gave a characteristically roundabout reply.

He suggested five practices for creating a personal world of peace and harmony, as the best first step to creating peace and harmony in the world:

  1. Have more compassion for yourself. Be less self-critical. If we’re honest and truthful about ourselves, accepting the good and bad alike with equal compassion, we’ll be much more likely to be happy regardless of our outward circumstances.
  2. Think more. Don’t spend endless hours brooding over the news, but think more about 650px-Dalailama1_20121014_4639yourself and your experiences. Look at your experiences with compassion and dispassion: are you behaving in an expansive way that will bring you happiness? His Holiness wakes up at 3 a.m. to meditate for five hours – but just 10 minutes of mindfulness every day can work wonders.
  3. Get good friends. Anger is a very bad habit for your health. The Dali Lama makes sure that he is surrounded by compassionate, positive people. We all need friends, but it’s important to surround ourselves with the right kind of friends: those who share our goal of developing genuine respect and love.
  4. Serve. If you cultivate a constant attitude of service to others, you’ll find that it will bring you great happiness.
  5. Remember that you were once a kid. Kids don’t care about the religion, nationality, or family background of others. In our highest human nature, we express childlike attitudes of friendship, giving, and joy.

In an inspiring book called Subtle Energy: Awakening to the Unseen Forces in Our Lives, William Collinge, PhD suggests an exercise for filling our hearts with peace and harmony.

Repeat the following words slowly, with pauses to contemplate and absorb their meaning:

May I be peaceful.
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be safe.
May I be free from suffering.

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be free from suffering.

For more on Dr. Marcel’s work click HERE.