Pema Chodron, author of ‘Practising Peace in Times of War’, asks the question, “Why is it that we all want a peaceful existence, yet our actions, or ‘reactions’, produce just the opposite?”

Pema speaks of a ‘moment’ of choice when we can either react with anger, or respond with patience and compassion. When asking her teacher, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Master, why is this ‘moment’ so uncomfortable when we choose not to give in to anger, he referred to this ‘moment’ as “The Burn” – stating how, when we can be fully present to this ‘moment’, we are able to “Burn up seeds of aggressive behaviour”, he then continued on to say how we can consciously choose to view such as an opportunity to “Burn the seeds of negative karma and plant the seeds of peacefulness”.

Most of us live in anxiety, afraid to let down our guard for fear of exposing a vulnerable and soft heart. Yet, in order to experience deep and lasting peace we must find the inner strength and courage to allow for the dissolution of the walls of defence that we have placed around our heart in order to protect it.

If we imagine our hearts to be like that of a beautiful white dove locked away in a small cage then we can gain some idea of why our hearts are unable to fly high and free – to touch Heaven. By the dove remaining in the cage, no matter how gilded the cage might be, it is unable to fulfil its fullest potential, or to experience its very essence and nature. It will never come to know of the love, joy, wonder, healing, and beauty it can experience, and that it can bring to others. A dove locked inside a cage will only know of deep sorrow. It may know of security, but will never know fulfilment.

The dove’s quest for fulfilment requires it to leave the security of the cage. Leaving the known for the unknown. If it remains the cage, It will stop singing, and its furtive attempts to fly in such a confined space will eventually result in its wings being broken. An imprisoned heart becomes a broken heart.

If we wish to experience peace at the deepest levels then it is time to fling the doors to wide open, and set our hearts free.

It is our hearts which lead us to true fulfilment, and to an experience of peace that surpasses anything we could have imagined peace to feel like. Imagine what it would feel like to be in deep peace everyday, especially when a challenging situation arises.

How can we cultivate inner peace? How can we en-courage ourselves to allow our hearts to become visible? Whenever we feel the stirrings of a ‘reactionary charge’, we need to catch it before it erupts. How we can do so is by acknowledging the charge, pausing for the moment, taking a few deep breaths, and then ask ourselves a simple yet profound question: “If my heart had a voice what would it say?” – Whenever we find ourselves on the edge of reason – this is the question to ask ourselves – “If my heart had a voice what would it say?”

Buddhism is a wonderful example from which we can learn how to ‘respond’, instead of react. At the core of Buddhist philosophy we will find the teachings and practices of ‘Right Action’, ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Non-Attachment’, ‘Forgiveness’, and ‘Compassion’. If we seek to embody these fundamental Buddhist qualities, we will come to experience lasting inner peace and joy.

Peace is to found through a gentle, open, undefended and unconditional heart.

Whenever we find ourselves in a situation where there is a potential for conflict peace is to be found by asking, “If my heart had a voice, what would it say”. Whenever you find yourself asking, “What is my Soul’s Higher Purpose”? Or, “What can I offer to the world”?, know that by being peace your life is making a difference – for if you living in peace, the world is one step closer to peace. As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches – “Peace in Every Step”.

When you next find yourself in that ‘moment’ that Pema Chodran speaks of – pause.. breathe.. and in that ‘moment’, make a choice to respond from your heart. Do so with compassion, sensitivity, empathy and understanding. By so doing, you will come to experience a peace that permeates every atom of your Being.

It is time to remove the defences from the heart. It is time to listen to the wisdom of the heart. By doing so we become the embodiment of peace.

We can choose to cultivate inner peace as a priority. We can transform our lives into one of grace and gracefulness. There are two choices – reaction, or response?

We can choose to prioritise inner peace whilst at the same time remaining mindful that we are no longer willing to compromise our sense of inner peace.

We can choose to walk in peace, to talk peace – to Be peace.

It is a step we can take right now.

Remember -

Peace in Every Step.