smokey mountain

Inner Peace and Wonder

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. -Albert Einstein

When I first arrived at the dumpsite outside of Manilla, Phillipines the group guide admonished us not to complain about the smell and stench of this 2,000,000 ton garbage heap, known as Smokey Mountain, the waste disposal area for Manila.  I was a part of a U.S. group who’d come to deliver some dignity, to the 30.000 dumpsite squatters.

being gratefulThe Manilla dumpsite got its name from the continuous decomposing waste and refuse fires. I don’t remember the smoke and fires as much as the encounters I had with the residents.

By the end of the one-day tour I was in tears. No living thing on this earth should be sentenced to live in this hell of undignified existence.

But that wasn’t why I cried. My emotions were sparked by the beauty I saw inside these forgotten outcasts. I saw within them a simple awe and intrigue as we walked among their shanties delivering simple goods. I expected to see a helpless survivor demeanor but instead I saw gratitude and curiosity.

No matter if you’re living in palace royalty or in abject third world poverty, within each one of us resides a sense of wonder, a spirit of intrigue for our surroundings. But we’ll miss the miracles if we don’t really pay attention to the awesomeness that is all around us.

We humans have to work at not falling into complacency. If the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Then the opposite of awe is apathy.

Most Americans believe that to cultivate inner peace we need to accumulate the finer things in life and then we will experience a fulfilled life. It is counterintuitive but living on less and being grateful is fulfilling, not the other way around.

It’s absolutely possible to cultivate inner peace through specific daily practices, even during times of challenging life circumstances.

Here are a 4 daily practices to help cultivate your inner peace.

1-Fix Your Eyes On Beauty

All around us there are wonders that we fail to notice. The act of alert attention that looks for beauty will awaken you to be filled with awe. Full attention on your surroundings immediately triggers the deep waters of the soul where peace and intrigue reside.  Nothing is too small to notice and give it laser-focused attention for a few seconds.

Let yourself feel the beauty your observing as it will change your state and keep your grounded in your inner being.

Where do you find beauty daily?

2-Practice Simple Gratitude As A Way of Life

Make a list each morning and each evening of everything you are grateful for. You can write it down or just run through the list in your mind.  I have a ritual each time I go for a walk or run where I chant gratitude for the wonders of my body. I’ll mutter to myself how grateful I am for my feet, legs, knees, mind, breath.

Practicing gratitude is not just a positive thinking exercise but more of an awakening to all the good that surrounds us continually.

What are you grateful for at this moment?

3-Alternative Meditation

Meditating doesn’t have to be limited to sitting in a lotus position with your eyes closed. There are different types of meditations. Have you ever tried a walking meditation? When you walk let your senses drink in your surroundings. Listen with heightened alertness to all the sounds around you.

This works especially well if you can walk in the forest and avoid the mechanical sounds of the city. Notice the sounds of your feet walking on different surfaces. Walk at a pace that is slow and measured so your mind doesn’t become goal oriented.

What other types of meditation do you use?

4-Get Physical

Walking, running, swimming, and lifting weights are little addictions of mine. The “runners high” causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body that gives you an energized and peaceful outlook on life.

What are some of the exercise activities you find beneficial?

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