Today is my mom’s birthday. Every year when I ask her what she wants for a gift, she always says the same thing:
“World Peace and a good cup of coffee.” – Mom
Well, I’ve gotten her coffee many times, but I could never quite figure out the World Peace thing. This year I decided to take pictures of my yoga practice to send to her. My mom thinks I’m perfect and loves any picture of me, but I thought this would be even more special, and in a way, I am giving her a little piece of my effort toward world peace.
Because for me, yoga helps me find my inner peace. And without inner peace, how could we possibly achieve peace amongst each other and throughout the world?
How many times have you seen people (or even yourself) snap at an innocent person just because they (or you) are having a bad day? Or how many times do you hear drivers honk out of road rage? I see it all the time. That behavior only makes things worse as everyone who is subjected to that negative energy becomes more agitated, more angry, and more aggressive. The effect is exponential, and then we end up with violence, destruction, pain, and chaos. The opposite of world peace.
I live in Los Angeles, where we spend a lot of time in traffic with car exhaust filling our lungs and car honks filling our ears. Here in LA, we deal with a lot of crazy people, people with grandiose delusions, big egos, the dreamers and the schemers. We have very rich people and very poor people. We have people with movie-star good looks, and we have the movie stars themselves. Factor in being a part of the entertainment industry, which is incredibly demanding and insanely competitive, and you have a recipe for nervous breakdown. This town is just filled with pressure and stress. Just this week alone, I had two different friends tell me they’re fed up with LA and are moving to New York. Yikes!
I don’t even have to mention all the other crap we have to deal with as human beings. Life is stressful. So how do we cope?
Well, my first strategy was to counteract the negative stuff with positive thinking. But Los Angeles is beautiful! Look at the weather! Look at all the artistry going on here! How inspiring! But while it’s great to train your brain to think positively, it didn’t prove to be enough when the shit hit the fan.
I’ve heard it advised before that in this crazy city/industry/life, we MUST find a hobby outside our craft: something to keep you sane amidst all the insanity. Something to keep your inner peace. I can tell you from personal experience just how valuable that advice is.
A couple years ago when I had a lot of gargantuan stresses in my life, I was pretty near as close to a psychotic break as someone can get. It was bad. Very bad. Like, I should be on “Oprah” to tell my story of just how crazy things were – bad. I felt as if I had no control of anything in my life, and I felt an overwhelming sense of doom. But as someone who has a lot of plans in her life and a fierce determination to never let anything get in the way of those plans, I looked for a way to cope until the storm blew over… Make that storms. As in, a hurricane full of tornadoes with a few earthquakes thrown for good measure. Okay, I think I’ve made my point.
Someone recommended I try meditation. Well, I
sort of failed miserably at that for a while and got even more frustrated… I just couldn’t control my “monkey mind,” and I was impatient. I didn’t like being alone with my thoughts when I felt so vulnerable.
But then I found yoga, and the combination of physical motions, music, breath and focus started to clear my brain. I stuck with it, and I started taking care of the most important thing: myself.
Even though I wasn’t able to control all the bad things happening to me and around me, I was able to get a handle on my own emotional stability. And in time, those issues started to resolve. The storms passed, and I started to clear up the rubble. Of course, I still have things do deal with in my life and a lot room for improvement – we all do. But I’ve come a long way, and I feel stronger than ever.
I can’t save the whole world. I’m just one person. But I can save myself. I can put positivity into the universe, and maybe that positivity will spread and influence peace and happiness in others. What if we all were able to tackle our inner demons to find inner peace? I think that then, perhaps then, we will have world peace.
And my mom will have her birthday present at last.
“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” – Joseph Campbell
What do you do to cope with stress and find inner peace? I love to hear everyone else’s stories and experiences, so please feel free to share in a comment!