March 4, 2011: Finding inner peace should top ‘to do’ list, by Sister Carolyn Teter

March 4, 2011 by

Do you take time to be at peace with yourself?

For many of us, our schedules are filled with “to do” items that consume much of our day. There just doesn’t seem to be time to for personal reflection. Or perhaps we don’t realize how important this reflection is if we are to be peacemakers in our society that is in such need of peace.

We cannot be in a right relationship with ourselves, our God and others without taking time to just be quiet. Psalm 46 comes to mind:  “Pause a while and know that I am God.”

It seems that when we do not have anything to occupy our minds, we feel insecure and we look for something to fill the void:  turn on the TV, call someone, go to our computer and surf the web, find something to eat, or do any number of other things to distract ourselves. So the first thing I do is to take 10 or 15 minutes to just be quiet and get in touch with my breathing, which allows me to relax physically and mentally.

Another real energy drainer is negative thinking and then getting into the “blame game.”

When that happens, I know that thinking positive thoughts about someone or some event will bring me back to interior peace. By avoiding criticism of others and looking for their good qualities, compassion and understanding grow and this energy in me radiates out to the world to bring about peace.

Making life more simple, not so weighed down with a lot of “shoulds” and “musts,” also helps me to stay centered and act out of my best self. When I give myself to others in a selfless way, this caring often has a ripple effect: I experience more positive energy and peace in myself.

I find that there is enough time in the day for some quiet time if I am resolved to get the big tasks completed and then take the time I need before I tackle the smaller, less significant tasks.

An author and nurse named Saskia Davis has published a check list titled “Some Signs and Symptoms of Interior Peace.” It can help each of us determine how much interior peace we have in our own lives:

  • The ability to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experiences.
  • Being in the here-and-now moment; an unmistakable ability to enjoy and accept totally each moment.
  • The loss of interest in judging other people.
  • The loss of interest in judging self, and freedom from scrupulosity and self guilt.
  • The loss of interest in interpreting the action of others.
  • The ever increasing freedom to not worry and the spontaneity to let go of blame and praise.
  • The frequent, ever increasing, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  • Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes from the heart.
  • The increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  • The increasing susceptibility to love, compassion and sympathetic joy for others as well as the spontaneous and uncontrollable urge to always express it.

Saskia concludes the list with this warning:  IF YOU HAVE ALL OR EVEN MOST OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS, PLESE BE ADVISED THAT YOUR CONDITION OF PEACE MAY BE SO FAR ADVANCED AS NOT TO BE CURABLE.  (Sage advice from a nurse!)

Even though we may not have all of these signs and symptoms, what a boon for world peace if we had 60 percent, or even 50 percent of these signs!

— Sister Carolyn Teter is a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee. She has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia for more than 55 years and is on the staff of Manna House of Prayer.

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