By Hagar Scher
You Don’t Have to Go to a Spa. Here’s How to Achieve Peace of Mind (Plus
Health and Happiness) from the Inside Out
Once upon a time, I had the time and money to go on an eight-day retreat in
Costa Rica. One of the most memorable aspects of the trip was a daily walking
meditation. My fellow travelers and I would line up and begin inching along.
Each step demanded my full attention; I didn't want to nip the heels of the
person in front of me. At first, the experience of moving so slowly was deeply
uncomfortable. Soon enough, though, I was rewarded for downshifting. Eyes fixed
on the ground, I encountered the little wonders a snail takes for granted: the
unique contour of each blade of grass, the vivid hues of wildflowers, the
fragility of the clods dotting the path.
I was reminded of those walks recently, as I rushed (yet again) to an
appointment I feared I would be late for (yet again), feeling that familiar,
toxic mix of self-recrimination, frustration, and anxiety.
Perhaps it was the depth of my exhaustion — my son was only 6 months old —
but my body rebelled. Right there, in the middle of a busy street, I found
myself replicating the ritual of those tropical mornings. My pace slowed, and
soon so did my thumping heart, whirling brain, and churning stomach. I took a
deep breath and felt my eyes, which had been shrouded by stress, open to the
world around me. I took note of the chubby clouds grazing the turquoise sky and
felt undeniably happy...and calm. I arrived at my destination five minutes
late, but instead of being angry and upset, I uttered a smiling apology and
went into the meeting feeling focused and energized.
"Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we
do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it," writes
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and author. We've all had those eureka moments
of feeling that everything is right and good in our world. But we need to make
a conscious choice to emphasize those feelings in our lives.