Peace in my Heart





May our hearts shine with the light of peace,
to enable others to find their way



 

In this and the following three pages we shall journey more deeply into the Peace Mantra. On each page I have included some practical suggestions and meditations which I hope will provide inspiration and encouragement.

I am offering these pages simply as a brother or companion; someone who is in the process of discovering and deepening, and someone who all too frequently fails to live, speak or think peace. My underlying wish, though, is for us all to live in harmony; this burning desire leads me to share these suggestions.

There is a lot of material on this page. You may find it helpful to read just one or two sections at a time. The ideas and practices included on these pages are for you to try out and adapt in whichever way works for you.

Please scroll down to find the following items:

       Part A: The Five Meditations
       Introduction
       About the meditations
       Meditation 1: Watching the natural breath
       Meditation 2: Peace in my Heart using the breath
(in three stages)
       Meditation 3: Chanting Peace in my Heart as a mantra
       Meditation 4: Walking the Peace Mantra
       Meditation 5: Cultivating the Inner Smile

       Part B: Further Insights and Complementary Material 
       1. What do we mean by 'Peace'?
       2. How can meditation help to bring about inner peace?
       3. Healing deep-seated negative emotions
       4. Dealing with mind-chatter
       5. Cultivating the 'positive'
       6. Smiling can help create inner peace
       7. Creating inner harmony through exercising all aspects of our being
       8. Finding a meditation teacher
 

       Part A: The Five Meditations
bullet point 
 Introduction
Peace in my Heart
forms the first line of the Peace Mantra; everything else flows out of these words. They are an affirmation that peace already dwells within, e.g. 'Peace is in my Heart'. They are also a prayer for peace to fill our being. The word 'Heart' encompasses all aspects of the Self: the body, ego, thoughts, feelings and higher self (which some would say is the true core of ourselves, and the gateway to the soul).

As this page will show, much fruit can be gained by cultivating the peace which lies within. However, there is a danger of becoming introspective or self-absorbed. We can avoid this by remembering that our true purpose is to help bring about peace not just in ourselves, but in our communities and the wider world.

We may find it very difficult at times to access the peace within us. One reason for this could possibly be that we are trying too hard. Peace can never come about through the use of force. It helps if we can trust that peace really does lie within us; if we find that too difficult, merely imagining inner peace may be sufficient.

After careful thought, I have decided many people (especially those returning to this page) would appreciate reading the actual meditations first. Therefore I have put the Complementary Material below them, in Part B.

                                                        

bullet point  About the meditations
Part A includes five meditations. Three of them incorporate the words Peace in my Heart, while the breath-watching and inner smile meditations are closely relevant to the words' meaning.

All five meditations are suitable for solo or group practice. They are intended to complement your existing practice. I believe it is very important to vary one's meditation practice, if only in a small way, as this keeps it fluid, and one is less likely to become stuck in a rut. It is therefore very useful to have an ever-expanding collection of practices from which to draw.

If you haven't meditated before, and wish to know more or give it a try, I would strongly advise you to find a teacher. Please see the Part B sections How can meditation help to bring about inner peace? and Finding a meditation teacher.

The total time to be taken for each meditation is ideally 20-30 minutes. If you have little experience, you may wish to begin by meditating for just 5 minutes, and then increase the length gradually, as feels comfortable. If you are very experienced, you may wish to increase the time to an hour or more. I find chanting or reciting mantras for a whole hour can help bring about a much deeper and transforming sense of peace.

Above all, I hope you will enjoy these meditations; I find it really does help to think light, and relax the face muscles either into a gentle smile, or to a point where a smile or laugh is just ready to break out.

                                                        

bullet point  Meditation 1: Watching the natural breath
There are countless meditations which can help bring about inner peace. This sitting meditation is one of the simplest.

Find a comfortable place to sit, where you are unlikely to be disturbed.

Simply watch your breath, as it comes in and goes back out.

Don't try to regulate the rate of your breathing; just follow whatever your breath wants to do.

This practice has the simplest form, but it can be very hard to maintain, as all we are doing is watching our breathing. It is easy for our attention to wander, or we may fall asleep. If this happens, bring back your attention gently: remember doing this by force will only create more disturbance.

Some people like to count the breath. This can be helpful to begin with, but there is a danger of the counting becoming a distraction. For this reason, I suggest letting go of the counting as soon as possible.


Experienced practitioners may find they can let go even of watching the breath; in other words they can just sit in absolute stillness.

This meditation underpins all others, in my view. Its simplicity can help create inner peace. But it is better not to look for or even think about peace while watching the breath, as this would provide another distraction!

                                                        

bullet point  Meditation 2: 'Peace in my Heart' using the breath
This sitting meditation is in three stages. Stages 1 and 2 are adaptations of meditations used in several longstanding traditions. Stages 2 and 3 can each form a complete meditation, or else all three stages can be taken together.

Stage 3 can be extended to include the other lines of the Peace Mantra: please see the Peace in this Place, Peace in our Land, and Peace in our World pages.

Stage 1: Tuning into your heartbeat
Become aware of the pulse of your heartbeat.

     (You can check it by placing a hand over the wrist, neck, heart, etc.)

Breathe in, counting four heartbeats.
Hold the breath, counting another four heartbeats.
Breathe out, counting four more heartbeats.
Repeat the cycle until you get used to the pattern.

     (Only hold at the end of the in-breath; the end of the out-breath should flow straight into the beginning of the in-breath.)
     (You can increase the number of heartbeats if you wish, without putting your body under any stress. There should be an equal number of beats for the in-, holding and out-breaths.)

Once you are used to the cycle, move on to the next stage if you wish:-

Stage 2: Energy breathing
Continue the breathing pattern described above in Stage 1.
Imagine you are breathing in new, fresh energy.
Hold the breath.
Imagine you are breathing out old, stale energy.
Repeat the cycle as often as you wish.

On the in-breath, imagine you are being filled with new life - that your physical body is being gradually revitalised, refreshed, rejuvenated, and resurrected.

Imagine that this process continues until your entire body is vibrating with new life, including the extremities such as the soles of the feet, the fingertips, and the crown of the head. Imagine every atom of your being pulses with new life-energy.

When holding the breath, imagine this new energy washes into every other aspect of your being: your thoughts; your emotions; your creative imagination; your beliefs, views and opinions; your fantasies; your subconscious; your higher self (that aspect of you which has the capacity for unconditional love, kindness, compassion, patience, forgiveness, joy ...)

When breathing out, imagine you are releasing all the things you no longer need or want. Let all the old blockages and all the stale or negative energy just flow out of your being into the ether, without using any force.

Either bring to a close by watching the natural rhythm of your breath, or go on to Stage 3:-

Stage 3: Breathing 'Peace in my Heart', 'My Heart is at Peace'
Think the words 'Peace in my Heart' on the in-breath.
Hold the breath.
Think 'My Heart is at Peace' on the out-breath.

When focusing upon Peace in my Heart on the in-breath, be aware of the current of peace entering your lungs, and then your heart.

Each time you breathe in, imagine that this peace energy reaches deeper and deeper into your being, spreading gradually to all parts of your body, including the extremities. Imagine that every atom of your physical being is suffused with peace.

When holding the breath, imagine that the peace current goes even further, encompassing every aspect of your being (as in Stage 2).

When focusing upon My Heart is at Peace on the out-breath, imagine that the whole of your being is radiating, glowing, shining with peace, and that you are prepared to offer this peace to all who wish to accept it.


If a part of you (large or small) isn't feeling at peace, you may want to focus upon that troubled area, to let it express its feeling. This can be done straight away, or later. If the part feels deeply troubled, or if there is a persistent sense of inner conflict, you may wish to seek some professional help. (See the Part B section Healing deep-seated negative emotions.)
 

Another approach, which can run alongside, is simply to imagine that the unsettled part is at peace. I find the very desire to be wholly at peace can sometimes be enough to transform a feeling of conflict into a feeling of peace and resolution.

Bring the meditation to a close by watching the natural rhythm of your breath, or continue using the words Peace in this Place - this extension can be found on the next webpage.

Allow plenty of silent rest at the end of the meditation.

                                                        

bullet point  Meditation 3: Chanting 'Peace in my Heart' as a mantra
This can be a sitting or standing meditation. It uses the first line of the Peace Mantra as a mantra in its own right.

The four syllables of this mantra can be chanted slowly on a single note, or using a very simple four-note melody. The following is a suggestion which can be adapted to suit you. Make sure the beats are steady.

Syllables:              Peace  in  my  Heart
Note:                    C          B   D     C
Beats per syllable: 2         1   1     3 *
Beat-counts:         1   2    3   4     5  6  7

* You can try making Heart 4 beats long instead of 3, but to my mind the irregular total number of beats (7) creates a better flow.

Chanting slowly, repeat again and again, to build up perpetual sound and rhythm. Intakes of breath should be quiet and swift, and should occur on the fourth beat of Heart, so as to preserve the rhythm.

The volume of your chanting is of course up to you: I would suggest anything between medium and quiet. I often find it helpful to swell out near the beginning, and gradually diminish the volume into deep silence near the end.

While chanting this short mantra, focus upon peace gradually spreading into the heart and to all parts of your being, in much the same way as described in Meditation 2.

This mantra can also be spoken, whispered, or just mouthed or thought. However, I find the most deeply healing and transforming vibrations are generated by chanting.

Allow plenty of time at the end of the meditation for silent contemplation. This allows the vibrations to go on working at a deep level.

                                                        

bullet point  Meditation 4: Walking the Peace Mantra
Slow, 'mindful' walking can be a wonderful help in cultivating peace. Thich Nhat Hanh is one of many teachers from a variety of traditions who strongly advocate mindful walking.

This kind of walking is an excellent way of slowing down the pace of our living. While we may not find it possible or desirable to live at such a slow pace all the time, treating ourselves regularly to life in the slow lane can do wonders to relieve stress. There is an added bonus: walking at a slow speed enables us to appreciate much more fully the beauty of a country landscape, town park, or a flower growing by the side of a street pavement.

Find a quiet spot where you are unlikely to be disturbed.
(A garden would be ideal, as would a quiet lane, footpath, riverbank, or beach.)

Begin to walk very slowly.
(Three seconds per step is an ideal rate, but you can make it a little slower or quicker if you wish. Try to keep the rate fairly constant, without becoming rigid.)

Breathe in as you walk three steps, breathe out as you walk another three, and continue in the same way.

Once you are used to this cycle, introduce the following words:-

As you breathe in, think the words 'Peace in my Heart'.
As you breathe out, think the words 'My Heart is at Peace'.

Repeat this cycle continuously until you wish to bring the walking meditation to a close.

There are many possible ways to adapt and vary this meditation. Sometimes, when breathing out, I prefer just to think 'Peace', and imagine this energy fills every atom of my being.

                                                         

bullet point  Meditation 5: Cultivating the Inner Smile
(Before beginning this meditation I suggest you read the Part B section Smiling can help create inner peace.)

There are many possible smiling meditations. This one is very simple, and is what I call a 'passive' style of meditation, as it requires very little input. In it, I use the expression 'smile with', rather than 'smile at', to create more of a feeling of inner gentleness and friendship. It may help to smile with a sense of gratitude and acceptance, free of judgement.

Sitting or standing, quietly watch your breath.

Allow yourself to break into a gentle smile, or imagine you are smiling.

Smile with every aspect of your being: your physical body, ego, imagination, thoughts, feelings, the higher self.

You may wish to smile with each aspect in turn, or you may decide to smile with whatever one presents itself at any given moment.

You may desire to include the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste and smell, to imagine and to create, to formulate and organise ideas and plans, to feel and express love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and so on.

You may wish to smile with whatever you believe lies behind and unites all beings.

When you are ready, just return to watching your breath, while imagining the smile carries on radiating within you.

                                                         

       Part B: Further Insights and Complementary Material
bullet point  1. What do we mean by 'Peace'?
It seems impossible to come up with a 'one-size-fits-all' definition of the word 'peace'.

Many people would say that being at peace means being in a state of harmony, with disagreements resolved through dialogue or mediation, rather than through war or aggression.

To reach this state we need to understand and accept not just our own, but all other people's views, beliefs, rights, needs and wishes. We need to do this even if others reject this approach, otherwise we will all sink further into conflict.

This understanding and acceptance comes when we are at peace with ourselves. This is why the Peace Mantra begins with Peace in my Heart. It hardly makes any sense to engage in peace-building with others if we are full of inner conflict ourselves.

Many of us may sometimes experience inner peace without any conscious effort on our part; this may come through being absorbed in an enjoyable activity, through being engrossed in a beautiful view or piece of music, or through feeling contented sitting in front of the fire.

We may find, though, that these periods of inner peace come all too rarely and fleetingly, and that their benefit evaporates all too quickly once we get back into the mainstream of everyday life. We therefore need to find some other way of creating and maintaining lasting inner peace. Many people find meditating on a regular basis helps them manage this.

                                                        

bullet point  2. How can meditation help to bring about inner peace?
I believe an essential part of meditation is simply to be aware of what is going on with our breathing; our physical bodies, including the senses; our creative imagination, views, beliefs, and values; our thoughts, including our logical and reasoning capacity; our feelings; and what is often described as our higher selves.

When all these aspects are in a comfortable state of balance, we are in a state of peace. We can then focus upon maintaining this balance throughout our everyday lives.

We may find at times, though, that one or more parts of ourselves are in some degree of discomfort or conflict. The best approach I have found is to listen to each 'troubled' part in turn as you would listen to a friend, without trying to change, suppress or argue with it. This can sometimes be a difficult process, particularly if the level of conflict is high.

For this reason I would advise anyone new to meditation to find a teacher before starting to practise. Going it alone is an unwise option; meditation CDs and books will not give you the necessary support. (Please see the section near the bottom of this page called Finding a meditation teacher.)

From my experience, when a troubled part has expressed itself fully, and feels it has been listened to, the degree of conflict or tension subsides to zero. This may happen quite quickly, or it may take several or many sessions. There is often an accompanying feeling of release and deep peace; it is as though an inner fibre, which may have been twisted or knotted for many years, has been ironed out.

The process of identifying and releasing inner blockages can last a lifetime. The more we do it, the more at peace we become, the longer the peace lasts, and the more it rubs off on those with whom we live and work.

I would stress that the self-healing process is only part of the meditation story. It should be undertaken only when the need arises. As I've stated above, meditating should be something we enjoy doing, not a chore or an ordeal.

                                                        

bullet point  3. Healing deep-seated negative emotions
If we have a negative emotion which goes very deep, and which seems unable or unwilling to express itself, the sensible thing to do is to seek help from a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. As well as guiding you through the issue at hand, they should be able to introduce some self-healing techniques. It may be better to leave off meditating until the inner pain has subsided.

Many people find Bach Flower and homeopathic remedies a great help in healing the emotions. Before taking these remedies it is essential to have a full consultation with a professional practitioner.

Other kinds of therapies or techniques include kinesiology, acupuncture, meridian therapies, sound healing, colour healing - to name but a few. All of these can help bring about deep and lasting emotional and physical healing.

The crucial thing is to reach the stage where we accept full responsibility for our feelings and emotions.

                                                        

bullet point  4. Dealing with mind-chatter
Most of us find it hard to meditate at times, because the mind starts to chatter. Thought after thought may disturb our focus, leading us to feel like giving up. This is a frequent problem for beginners, but from time to time it can afflict even the most experienced practitioner.

I find a good way of dealing with this situation is to let the thoughts come in, without trying to stop them. I imagine I am sitting observing my thoughts, watching each one arise, and sink back.

If I find my attention has wandered, I try to bring it back gradually. Using force to jolt oneself back will only create resistance and unwanted momentum, which will make it more likely that the attention will wander again.

                                                        

bullet point  5. Cultivating the 'positive'
There are many practical steps we can take to help bring about peace. Most of the ones described on this webpage are what I call 'inner' measures; they will prepare us to take the more active or 'outer' measures suggested on the next three pages (Peace in this Place, Peace in our Land, and Peace in the World).

Besides meditating, and looking at our negative emotions, I find a deep sense of inner peace can result from cultivating the following (the list is not exhaustive):-
                   forgiveness (of ourselves and others)    gratitude    joy
                   kindness    compassion    a sense of justice and fairness
                   patience    happiness    good humour    generosity    humility

Some people seem to shine with a particular quality; they can be a great inspiration and example for us to cultivate the same in our everyday lives.   

We obviously need to choose the way of cultivation which suits us. Breathing in the quality, as in Meditation 2, can be a great help. Another is to follow the same principle the Buddha gave in his words 'There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way'. So if we desire forgiveness, let us forgive. If we wish for abundance, let us be generous. If we yearn for peace, let us be peace.

                                                         

bullet point  6. Smiling can help create inner peace
Krishna, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, the Buddha, and Jesus Christ are amongst the deities or great religious teachers who are often shown smiling, in a way which seems to me to be full of peace, kindness, friendliness and compassion. I have found smiling, or even just imagining I'm smiling in this kind of way has lightened and enriched both my meditation and everyday living.

I recognise there may be times, sometimes long periods, when we don't feel happy, when we cannot truthfully smile or laugh. We may perhaps be going through a time of deep grieving, or uncertainty.

On the other hand, I sense there is a danger of becoming so preoccupied with our negative feelings that we forget to give our attention to positive ones. These have an equal right to be heard.

By cultivating the smile within, we are much more likely to be at peace, with a sense of inner well-being and contentment. (These terms are not to be confused with smugness or complacency.) We will then be much lighter company for those around us.

                                                         

bullet point  7. Creating inner harmony through exercising all aspects of our being
I believe all aspects of our being need exercise. These aspects include our physical bodies, our creative and intellectual faculties, and the 'innermost' or 'spiritual' dimension. By neglecting any part of ourselves we are not only dishonouring it, but risk creating inner disharmony and disease (literally 'dis-ease').

Regular physical exercise helps to create and maintain a healthy body. It raises our energy level, which in turn boosts our spirits and increases our level of concentration.

There are many different forms of exercise to choose from: running, swimming, cycling, hill walking, gym exercise, weightlifting, Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates etc. Cardiovascular activity in particular is crucial, as it strengthens the heart, lungs, circulation, and immunity system. This is very apt for establishing and maintaining Peace in my Heart!

Each of us has a creative faculty, and an impulse to create. This can manifest itself in familiar mediums such as music, the visual arts, poetry and prose, and also in areas such as gardening and cooking. In order to stay happy and healthy, we need to allow our creativity to flow in one form or another.

Some people hold back, as they believe what they create doesn't measure up to the standards achieved by professional artists. My answer is this: we can train our bodies without having to be a top-class athlete, so we can explore and train our creative side without needing to be a first-rate artist.

All of us have an intellect, which creates order out of the huge volume of information the brain receives during each waking moment. It seems to me that over recent centuries the intellect has either been given far too much emphasis, or far too little. There are many things in life which cannot be explained by scientific reason - the efficacy of homeopathy is one example - but that doesn't mean we should abandon the intellect!

The left-hand part of the brain needs as much attention as any other aspect; it seems very strange to me that many of us go through rigorous mental training in the early part of our lives, and yet let our intellects wither thereafter. I find a lazy mind very easily shrinks into a closed one, dragging the emotions down with it.

There are so many areas to choose from in order to exercise the left-hand brain: delving into local history, learning a language, grappling with quantum physics. We are truly blessed with adult education centres, libraries, and of course, the internet!

The 'spiritual' or 'other' dimension of ourselves also needs much attention. Many people find they can access this side through participating in various religious rituals or through prayer. Plenty of others do not wish to subscribe to any religion, so they prefer to use other means of 'spiritual' exercise. 

The beauty of meditation is that it can be used both by people who belong to a religion, and those who do not. In my opinion, meditation actually transcends religion, as it brings us to a point where we rise above differences and distinctions. None of the five meditations in Part A are religious, nor do they require a belief in God.

                                                        

bullet point  8. Finding a meditation teacher
Try to find a teacher (who may call themselves a facilitator or leader) who:
       has a lengthy and wide experience in meditation
       provides a safe environment in which everyone's views and needs are valued
       listens with empathy, and without judgement or prejudice
       offers individual support and guidance if needed

By 'a lengthy and wide experience' I mean a teacher who has meditated for at least five years, preferably more, in two or more forms or schools. I have come across various people in my life who have set themselves up to teach before they have had a chance of absorbing sufficiently what they have been taught. 

Some people may offer meditation teaching within a designated religious or spiritual path, such as Tibetan or Zen Buddhism, Yoga, Christianity, Druidry, etc. This may suit you, but I would sound a note of caution. Focusing exclusively on one path or tradition can easily lead to inflexibility, narrow-mindedness and a sense of superiority (i.e. 'my way is better than yours').

Teachers embedded in any one tradition may perhaps be trying to force their agenda onto you, and try to guide you down a road you may not wish to follow.

It would be ideal if you were to join a Beginners' Class, then you will know that everyone else is at a similar level. If you have no option but to join a mixed-experience group it would help if you were offered extra meditation support from the group leader.

It is very important that a meditation teacher should be an excellent listener. I actually believe that any teacher, and any therapist, should take a professional course in Listening or Counselling Skills unless their training has already included this aspect.

Finally, if you wish to receive further guidance in finding a meditation teacher, or discuss any aspect of meditation, please don't hesitate to contact me (Steve) at
peacemantrafoundation@outlook.com  

                                                           

bullet point  The significance of the Foundation's logo
Our logo has been created by Pharic. It reflects the twin aspects of the Mantra: the journey within (spiral) and the radiating outwards (like flower petals or sun-rays):-
                                                       PPF logo