EXCERPT | An Island of Peace in a Turbulent World

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How can we ensure that our home lives remain peaceful even when the world outside is not?

In every home there should be a room, you can call it the breathing room or the meditation room or the island of peace.

Many of us do not have an extra space or an additional space we can just use for this. In that case,  even a small corner of a room can function as a peaceful island. Any time members of the family don’t feel safe or stable or strong, they can take refuge in that island of peace. It does not need to be very big and it does not need a lot of furniture; just a few cushions, a bell, and a flower. The flower represents freshness and beauty and hope.

Every time you are disturbed by your anger or frustration, even if you are a child, you have the right to take refuge in that room. Any civilized home should have such a room. That is a territory of peace, a place to take refuge in the island of the self. The moment this island is established, you and others too begin to profit from it. When you step into that room, you feel the territory of peace within.

If parents are quarreling and causing their child a lot of suffering, the child may like to leave that place and go to the breathing corner or room. She can enter, invite the bell, and practice mindful breathing. She can take refuge in the peace that is there. And if the child is  practicing like that, the parents might stop quarreling with each other when they hear the bell and feel the need of the child not to suffer. So the practice of one person can help the entire family.

When one partner is angry with the other,  she can go to that room and practice mindful breathing and listening to the bell to calm herself. That practice will inspire the child and inspire the couple also. Before starting the day, the whole family may spend a few minutes in the breathing room looking at each other mindfully and happily and wishing eachother a happy day. You will have started your day well by calming yourself, looking at each other and recognising one another as precious.

Before going to sleep, you can spend a few minutes listening to the bell and breathing in and out together as a family. And every time the family has the need to listen to each other you can practice sitting mindfully and listening deeply to the suffering of the family.

When the child takes refuge in that territory, the father has no right to pursue him and call after him anymore. You have something like diplomatic immunity when you go into that territory; no one can scold you or ask you questions anymore.

Source: Answers from the Heart, Thich Nhat Hanh

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