It’s easy to feel peaceful and connected when walking in the woods, tipping toes into a cool brook, or at a monastery on retreat. We can also find inner calm in the morning, sitting quietly sipping coffee, feeling God’s loving presence. Peace, I give to you, is the invitation Christ offers us so often in scripture.
The challenge is how do we keep that inner peace? How do we take that Christ-like peace with us when we enter the busyness of the marketplace?
The marketplace—our offices or factories where we earn a living so we can buy daily bread for ourselves and our loved ones. The marketplace—the 8-5 Monday through Friday space where we work to pay the bills, and are glad to have the income, but often a part of us wishes we were somewhere else.
Come Monday morning, our weekend-peace is often replaced with weekday-fear. Sometimes our anxiety stews on Sunday evening as we pack lunch bags and briefcases preparing for the workweek. Our minds begin an all too familiar chorus streaming thoughts like:
How am I going to do all my work this week?What if I can’t handle that overwhelming project?I hope my boss didn’t schedule that meeting to fire me.
The Heart-Math Institute teaches that the key to inner peace is to stay connected with our hearts. Our heart’s intuitive power guides us. Like an electromagnetic force it contains a loving wisdom that leads us toward balance, flow, and our highest good. The heart is the center of our Being. It gently integrates our mind, body and spirit, creating inner harmony and cooperation. Tapping into the inner tranquility of the heart helps neutralize the irritation, impatience, and exhaustion that so often creep into a busy day.
When we become anxious, frustrated or judgmental toward ourselves or others, we’re temporarily disconnected from the wisdom of our hearts. We’ve lost our inner peace. We might even say we’re lost in our minds because we’ve allowed ourselves to get caught up in the excessive speed of the day’s demands.
Just as when racing down an expressway and spotting a police cruiser setting a speed trap for us, we can either continue our excessive speed and get ticketed, or we can tap the brake and slow down.
A heart-brake creates a pause, a moment of silence when we can slow our pace. A heart-brake allows our minds to stop racing and invites the flow of wisdom to calm our bodies as we take a few deep breaths and lower our heart rate.
As we take a heart-brake we reconnect with our souls—that place within us that integrates and harmonizes mind, body, and spirit. When we open ourselves to the nudges of the heart’s intuition, we’re reminded: we’re safe, all is well, just breathe.
Here’s a simple three-step practice to try throughout the day:
Become Aware. Pay attention to when you’re stressed or anxious. Name your feelings. Are you frustrated, impatient, overwhelmed, angry, exhausted, judgmental or fearful?
Pause & Take a Heart-Brake. Take a short time-out. Breathe quietly for a while and imagine with each breath you’re reconnecting with your heart. Imagine a small white light gently glowing behind your heart-space. Feel its warmth. Notice the inner quiet contained there. Let the peace flow into your whole body and calm you. Let its wisdom speak silently within you.
Practice Self-Compassion. Practice maintaining the state of inner peace as you re-engage in your projects, challenges or daily interactions. Practice a heart-brake before meetings and important decisions. Radiate self-compassion and non-judgment to yourself when challenged by life’s situations. With regular practice, you might notice a gentle shift in your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
I wonder, did Christ practice heart-brakes during his earthly life? Did he pause and reconnect with his heart to find inner peace and wisdom as he went about his work?
When the villagers wanted to throw him over the cliff because they thought he was a false prophet, did he notice his anxiety, take a moment to reconnect with his breathing, and then let his heart lead him to walk away as an act of compassion for himself and others?
Did his practice of inner peace give him the wisdom to remain silent when Pilate asked him if he were a King? Or did it give him the strength to turn over the tables in the temple as he confronted the falsehood of religious practices?
I think he did. I think Christ in his humanity had to practice inner peace daily. And by taking a heart-brake, we too can find the inner peace he found and offers us.
—brian j plachta