The Seven Steps to Inner Peace

"Bliss"                                                  B Upton
In her book Conscious Evolution, Barbara Marx Hubbard talks about how we are poised to birth a universal humanity and compares what we are experiencing to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. 

As soon as the caterpillar starts weaving its cocoon, imaginal disks appear that hold the blueprint of the butterfly to come. The immune system of the caterpillar does not recognize them and attacks them, but they only continue to grow. When there are enough of them and they link up- the disks turn to cells and the butterfly is created from the old. Hubbard says that each of us who believes a different world is possible is an imaginal cell in the new global culture! Our numbers also continue to grow and technology is allowing us to "link up" like never before. Everyday, we grow in strength and in our ability to co-create a more conscious and loving world.

But for us to be most effective in creating the blueprint for an awakened humanity, we first have to make sure we are awake and compassionate to ourselves! 

Don't worry if this makes you a little uncomfortable- we are conditioned to think of loving ourselves as being egotistical and selfish - when in fact, egocentricity and selfishness arise from lack of self-love. If you want love, you first have to give it to yourself. You cannot give to, or receive from another, what you will not give to yourself. Putting an end to self betrayal and embracing our essence as pure love is the work before us.

Here are seven steps to help you experience more inner peace and self-love in your life. I hope you will give them a try because the world needs you to be in your power right now and I'd love to see you be in your joy more too!

1. Connect to the Earth
Spend some time everyday in nature. Enjoy a few quiet moments as you feel the earth beneath you. You might want to imagine that you have "roots" extending from the bottom of your feet and spine sinking deep down into the earth. Feel yourself growing calmer as you go deeper...then on a big inhale, draw the earth's healing and nourishing energy into your body- into your every cell. Exhale tension and all your worries down into the earth and inhale peace and strength. Give thanks. It's beautiful way to begin the day.

Affirmation "I am one with the earth. I am grounded. I am safe. I belong."

2. Connect with Your Breath
Breathing- we do it about 20,000 times of day, but how often are we conscious of the nature of our breathing? Check yours right now. Is it smooth, effortless and deep? Or does it feel shallow and tense? Unfortunately, for most of us it is the latter. Our breath is reflecting the incessant chatter of our minds! We are seldom without thoughts that keep us anxious and in a decidedly non-peaceful state. But when you begin to simply observe the breath, not trying to change it, just watching it and being aware of every sensation - a funny thing happens. Your breathing naturally slows down and the ties of your ego/mind begin to loosen. As the breath deepens naturally you may find it easier to dive down past surface thoughts, letting them go like the ripples on a pond. As you allow the breath to more completely fill your lungs, let your tummy relax...your mind will follow. In many languages the word for breath and spirit is the same- get acquainted with yours!

Affirmation "I breathe in vitality and exhale tension. I become more peaceful with every breath I take."

3. Connect with Gratitude
You will find that as you connect more with the earth and your breath that there will be a natural bubbling up of feelings of gratitude for life's blessings. You may start noticing little things that were under your radar before- a stranger's smile, a cool breeze, or the scent of  flowers on your path. Some like to hone their ability of appreciation by keeping a Gratitude Journal (and it can be a nice thing to leaf through when you are feeling down.) Remember nothing is too small to note! A positive side effect of this is that it is impossible to be in a blaming, judging mind when you are connected to gratitude- over time you literally begin seeing the world in a new way!

Affirmation "I easily recognize and give thanks for the blessings in my life." 
4. Connect with Beauty 
I think beauty is a requirement of the soul and without it something in us withers. Beauty comes in many different packages- from a pink and gold sunrise to music that stirs our soul- from leaping dolphins to a poem that delights. The beauty and the bounty of our natural world awakens our most loving and protective instincts to be responsible stewards of this jewel of a planet. When we look into the eyes of someone we love and see the light of their soul shining back, it triggers our respect and compassion for all humanity. I hope with time you will come to appreciate your own beauty- the beauty that comes when you align yourself with your highest, most loving and most authentic self!

Affirmation "I walk in beauty. Beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty above me, beauty below all around me." (from a Navajo prayer)

5. Connect with Your Shadow 
I remember asking a woman once if she would talk to others the way she talked to herself. "Oh, no", she said, "that would be rude!" We had to laugh, but the truth is most of us spend too much time and energy beating ourselves up, regretting, fretting and making ourselves miserable for falling short of some ideal of who we think we should be. We banish our little, orphaned "unacceptable" parts to the basement, where they lurk as our shadow.

Everybody does this. We all suffer the pain of self-rejection, but we also have a choice. We do not have to feel guilty for our "bad" feelings, or for pretending we never have them. We can begin instead with forgiving ourselves for our humanness. We can declare a truce with ourselves and to begin seeing ourselves with kinder and more compassionate eyes. When we befriend all of who we are, we are able to experience the joy of being our authentic, whole, joyful and lovable selves. Repressing or denying parts of ourselves only cuts us off from that wholeness. The way out is in!

Saturn Back Lit by the Sun                                     Cassini Probe
When we are no longer at war with ourselves life flows with more grace. We can listen to the messages of our shadow instead of being at the mercy of its impulses. And perhaps most importantly, we no longer have to project our hated and denied parts onto others and make them the enemy. When we are healed, our world is healed too.

If you are having trouble pinpointing your rejected parts simply look at who and what triggers you in life. Traits we deplore in ourselves are so much easier to see in someone else! 

I think confronting our "unloved" parts is one of the noblest, most courageous and worthy projects we can take on in this life. 

World peace evolves from inner peace. It begins with each of us bringing light and love to our wounded selves. Then we can receive the gift of our shadow - the remembrance of who we really are- undamaged, whole, compassionate and loving souls -  here to make a difference.

Affirmation "I am healed. I am one. I am whole." 

The Waking Planet Flag                                                   B Upton

Crescent Earth                                                                                     NASA

6. Connect with Your Heart
If you spend a lot of time in your mind, I am asking that for this sixth step to inner peace that you drop down into your heart. Just as a change in perspective reveals a beautiful crescent earth, new possibilities will be revealed to you.

When we connect with our hearts, we are connecting with our feelings, our infinite capacity for compassion and to our true essence, which has been and always will be love. When our hearts are wide open (their natural state) we are in a place of oneness with the earth, all life, our deepest selves and our divine source. We are home. 

All of us are on the path to a soft and open heart, but if you are like most, you have erected walls, even fortresses around yours. I think it is important to first simply acknowledge if this is true for you. Can you see your defenses without judging them, without making yourself wrong? You must have had a good reason to build those walls of protection!

But now those walls are blocking out the light and diminishing your ability to love and to be loved. They are causing more trouble than they are worth! The good news is there is a better way.

In Sanskrit the name for heart is anahata which means unstruck or unhurt. What this is saying is that underneath all the drama and the stories of victimhood you tell yourself, there is a part of you that can never be harmed- your eternal, vast and beautiful self! You are already safe.

You can access that sacred self by choosing, moment to moment, to live from your love-filled soul, rather than your fear-driven ego. The best (and only) place to start is with your relationship with yourself. That's why the shadow work in step five is so important. When you look at yourself with more compassionate eyes you see the world in a more loving way. When you declare an inner truce you project a more harmonious vibration into our world. When you are able to see without the distorting lens of fear, the other becomes your brother-your sister, the earth becomes your sacred home and you are one with All That Is.

Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the sweetness of your true heart. Forgiving can't be forced, but is always an option available to you. I think it helps to begin by reframing forgiveness- it is not about condoning hurtful behavior- it is about setting yourself free! You do this by recognizing your humanness and forgiving yourself for sometimes "missing the mark", which was the original meaning of the word "sin". Then you can extend forgiveness to others, knowing that they too have been wounded and were only doing the best they could, even if it fell very short of your expectations.

In any moment you can justify your anger, resentment and fear, or choose to walk through them. The nature of emotions is to flow. You feel them, to release them. The pain is in the resistance. 

Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It can release you from the past and allow you to step into the magnificence of your true self; vibrant, healthy, joyful, loving and free! Just saying that your intention is to begin the work of forgiveness, will set up powerful forces for change that will bring you more naturally into your heart- into your true essence. 

In a dream I heard that the message for humanity at this time was to "seek your heart". I send you blessings and strength on your quest to live from that divine place within you.

Affirmation "It is safe to give love, receive love and be the love that I am."

7. Connect with Your Divinity

"Heart Light 1"                                                                                            B Upton
You find your divinity in the same place as you find your rejected self- in your shadow. Although the shadow is mostly made up of parts you find unacceptable and have denied in yourself, it also contains your unowned brilliance!

"Messages in the Shadows"                          B Upton
I know it is hard for some of us to realize that the traits we find so appealing in others are projections of what we already have in us. We are not encouraged to embrace our talents, or our inner-light! We are taught that is is egotistical to think well of ourselves, but the truth is, if we are at war with ourselves, we will not be much good to anyone else. Don't worry about getting a "big head". You have a lifetime of put downs to counter so that you may arrive at a truer picture of the extraordinary being you are!

And don't stop there! Practice expanding your sense of identity to include others, the earth, the universe and the divine, because at your core, you are one with it all. The Light of the Divine Source lives in your heart. It is not something you need to earn. It is already one with you. This sacred light has the ability to heal others, yourself and the planet and no one has more of it than you do. 

You are not just a drop in the ocean. You are the mighty ocean in the drop ~ Rumi

The one tool I have found most helpful in connecting with this luminous Reality is meditation. There are as many ways to meditate as there are people.  I love walking meditation (combining Steps One and Seven). If you currently practice meditating - good for you and keep it up! If you have tried and given up, or this is new for you, I hope you will give it a try (again). The rewards of being in the stillness of the present moment are great. I believe in simplicity and in what works so I will be sharing some tools and  techniques that have helped me in meditating in future blogs.

The Seven Steps only become effective by practicing them, but this is a practice that you can make joyful (I'm a big believer in joy). For instance, to practice Step One, you could give yourself a couple of minutes every morning (hopefully outside) to face east, breathe in the light of the new day and to feel grounded, strengthened and supported by the earth.  You could  tape the affirmations and listen to them as you go to sleep, etc. Come up with practices that sound like fun to you.

With time, I sincerely hope the steps help you experience greater and greater levels of inner peace, self-love, oneness and the joy you deserve!

No matter where you are on your spiritual journey I hope you will treat yourself generously and compassionately, realize that your pace is just right, that you are perfect in your imperfections and that there has never been a better time to do the work and to come into the power and magnificence of your true self.

Affirmation "The divine exists in me, as me. I honor my creator by recognizing the light within me and living from that place of unconditional love."
"Heart Light 2"                                                                                         B Upton