A friend is volunteering for the next five weeks at a children’s orphanage in Zimbabwe. The children range from ages 5-17 she reports. They’ve been raped, abandoned, and have no material possessions except the clothes they’ve been given and the bed they sleep in.
“They’ve been through so much. They have nothing,” my friend says. “Yet their faces glow with joy. As I pick up the children and hold them to my heart, their smiles fill me with inner warmth.”
“Why is it, that we in the Western world have so many possessions—cars, houses, education, jobs, family—yet we’re still searching for something we can’t quite name? If we could only get that new job, read another self-help book, get that one person in our lives to love us—then we’d be happy. Fulfilled. But when we do, we move on, searching for something more. We’re never satisfied with what we have.”
Vietnamese monk Thich Nat Hahn writes that everything we need to be happy is contained within us. All we have to do is stop, be still, and become aware of the peace and love that fills us.
Maybe these orphans remind us that peace and happiness are an inside job. It’s in our hearts. And regardless of our circumstances, no one can take that peace away from us. It’s a peace that surpasses understanding. When we connect with it, even momentarily, it calms us, grounds us, guides us.
Here’s a practice called the “Inside Job” to connect with the inner peace within our hearts.
Find a quiet place.
Close your eyes.
Take several deep breaths.
Focus your attention on your heart.
Imagine your heart flowing like a river with peace and love.
Is there a picture that rises up in your imagination? What is it?
Play with it. Enjoy it.
Is there an emotion or feeling in your body you notice? Name it.
Experience it. Savor it.
Take your time.
Then, when you’re ready, bring yourself back to the present moment, to the place you’re sitting. Open your eyes.
What did you notice? What did you experience?
The Inside Job moves us out of our thinking minds and into our heart-space—the place we connect with ourselves and our Higher Power. It’s as if we’ve been given an umbilical cord flowing from the Creator’s heart to ours. And all we need do to connect with it is to stop, become aware of the love and wisdom that flow within our hearts, and experience the deep peace that dwells there. Inner Peace.
Many faith traditions teach that taking the time for silence is the missing link for those of us who wander aimlessly in the Western world seeking something more. Whether we call the practice of silence the Inside Job, meditation, contemplation or prayer, each point us toward the inner work we can and must do to live from the heart. To find that happiness is an inside job.
Main Point:The practice of silence connects us with our heart-space. It’s key to inner peace.
Try This: Each day this week take 10-20 minutes to sit in silence and practice the Inside Job (or whatever form of meditation that’s life-giving for you). After a week, notice if your daily practice grounds you, allows you to experience deeper peace and happiness throughout the day.
—brian j plachta