Home Archive Prev Next

How to Transcend Today's Turmoil with Inner Peace

Lotus pads on pondPHIL: Welcome to the changed world. Buckle up; it’s currently a wild dystopian ride. The only way to enjoy it is to let go of any hope of earth returning to the way it was and find fascination and joy at the unfolding of events. We must find our utopia in the events of the moment, because here they are, and whether they feel good or bad, we must accept them fully.

It’s very tempting to write yet again about the need for flexibility and change in the face of this turmoil, and of course, I am unsettled like everybody else, but there is also a way in which it does not affect me where I can find my way to sit, to be calm and unmoved by these events and find that part of me that is still and unchanging.

We’ve all lived many lives within this one life and can barely recognize our earlier naïveté and stupidity, but at the same time, that was still us. Yet we cannot find who we are in the detritus of the past. We are here; our presence glows before us like a string of Christmas tree lights. It’s not our name or our career or our losing streak at Scrabble; they’re just ideas about who we are. Look to the body, the pulse of blood in the fingers, the sound of traffic from outside, yet you are none of those; they are ephemeral, too. What you look for, you cannot see, you can only be.

The point is that there is a place, a center. It’s easy to forget that when my back aches or I look at the many woes of the world, but when I can acknowledge all of that and at the same time, say “this,” I am again centered.

I don’t want to trivialize the state of the world or suggest avoidance by denial; instead, we must choose the opposite. Embrace it all; live its ferociousness, be present with it, and at the same time, be aware of that stillness within you. There is no contradiction; they are two sides of ourselves.

We can imagine what a better world would be like, and if we can imagine how that might be, we can work to bring it about. Not that we can produce unicorns by simply imagining them, but a state of brotherhood and sisterhood is different; it is some place within us that exists.

When you can tap into that still center, it shines out into the world and emanates a calm presence. This is the feeling that has bound Maude and me together since the day we met.

MAUDE: Phil and I have been deeply distressed over the pervasive turmoil surrounding all of us at this time in the world. Sometimes it all just seems to come together from every direction and knocks us over like a giant tsunami. How do we deal with it and what can we do?

On an internal level, we have to find a place of inner stillness and calm. We need to establish a sense of constancy with ourselves and within our relationships that can act as a safe harbor and a place to refresh our souls.

In order to accomplish this, we have to spend time within, to understand what we value and share. We have to glean a deep sense of who we are. That still calm center becomes a rock in the stream of ever-moving currents.

It is an experience, not an idea, so we must venture there and spend time to become familiar with it. As we develop this inner space, it becomes so known that we can connect to it at will. We can feel this in our bodies and in our spirits.

In our relationships, we are strengthened by the support we feel for and from each other. When two people bring this inner stillness to their relating, peace and calm arise in the midst of chaos. We share our responses to the onslaught of events and lift each other up when one or the other needs it.

We find healing humor together, share beauty, express our grief and sadness, and bear witness for each other. Through being heard by another, we can hear ourselves.

These things allow us to reside in the present moment, with what actually is.

How does this look for me and Phil? I make sure the house is filled with fresh flowers. Being surrounded by natural beauty uplifts me and makes me smile. I put my hands in the dirt and care for the plants surrounding us every day. I do a Covid smell test by deeply inhaling the Plumeria on my front doorstep. Both Phil and I walk every day, looking at the mountains, the trees and the flowers and giving our bodies fresh air and exercise. I’ve started taking photos of the porches of Santa Barbara; a little project that makes walking around town more interesting and sharpens my viewing to what is right there in front of me. I read with and am read to by both my grandchildren for an hour with each one every weekday. I am in a women’s group that meets once a month on Zoom and we share deeply what we are working on, how we are doing and growing. This loving sharing with other women brings me deep healing and joy!

Phil and I play, laugh, talk, and celebrate with each other. We both visit with a few friends in our little tea house which allows for outdoor social distancing. We participate in a number of spiritual groups in online Zoom meetings together. Each of us visits with friends all over the planet on Facetime, Zoom, text, WhatsApp; checking in on each other, talking and sharing joys and tribulations. When one of us is overwhelmed by the pervasive turmoil and dissonance, the other makes a meal or we sit down and talk or do a crossword together. We make love, watch TV, read and write.

We spend our time in the present as much as we can and remind each other to do so when the news or the tensions pulls us into our heads too much.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

 Headphone iconClick here to listen to Phil reading this blog.
What is it that you do? In next week’s blog, we will share how some of you are dealing with life in 2020. What refreshes your spirit? What brings you peace? How do you stay present while remaining alert to what is happening? Please email us and tell us a few of the things that work for you. We are all in this together!

Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about how to transcend today's turmoil with inner peace, and we have found some very interesting articles that complement ours and have a range of approaches.

Living Peacefully in a Time of Turmoil "As a theologian and ethicist, my research focuses particu­larly on how people find meaning and purpose in their existence. These goals are severely challenged in times of turmoil, such as the current age marked by anxieties over war, terrorism, and the economy. How can we manage to find meaning in life—how can we find inner peace or practice peace toward others—when our world seems mired in insta­bility and despair? I believe there are three critical components to living peacefully in such times: narrative, transcendence, and hope."

4 Keys to Inner Peace in the Age of Corona "There’s another way—a calmer way. Cultivating a more restful, relaxed state of mind doesn’t mean we’ll drown under all our responsibilities. Instead, research suggests it will bring us greater attention, energy, and creativity to tackle them. And science also points to simple ways we can tap into that calm state of mind to be more resilient in our chaotic lives."

How To Feel a Steady Inner Sanctuary in a World of Turmoil "As we face the ebb and flow of each day and witness the inevitable suffering that is a consequence of our human greed and antagonism, we need to make sure not to lose sight of the eternal light—our true nature. Focusing on that light does not deny the presence of the clouds, the violence, the pain we all can feel. But we do not add to them with our own inner agitation and wanting"

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
Read our blogs at PhilAndMaude.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
Email us at philandmaude@philandmaude.com
If you are interested in newsletters you've missed, see our archive.
Do you know anyone who would enjoy this newsletter? Tell them to sign up at http://philandmaude.com/howtwo/.