by Jane Simmons

A woman that attended a peace rally in the Midwest during the days leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq found it to be anything but peaceful. Surrounded by an angry mob of protestors on both sides of the issue, she chose to sit on a blanket in the midst of it all and meditate. Sitting in the eye of the storm, the woman wondered if what she was doing was making any difference at all. Later, she discovered that an artist witnessing the scene had taken a picture of her and painted it as a beautiful depiction of peace. Her example had become a work of art.

Daily life can feel like that peace rally. We are bombarded from every direction with media stories of global conflicts, environmental degradation and political and economic strife, as well as our own interpersonal struggles. It is not only possible to find serenity in the midst of such chaos, it is essential. The Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo wrote, “The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.”

The work then becomes finding a center of peace within and expressing it, no matter what outer storms may arise in our lives. Whether in our family life, workplace, local community or on the world stage, when we remain calm and serene in the midst of triggering moments, we become peace in action.

We get there the same way we reach Carnegie Hall—practice, practice, practice. The woman at the rally was a seasoned meditator, but still had to continually work to settle her mind within the chaotic scene that surrounded her. Closing our eyes in the midst of the unknown takes trust and courage, but can also lead to an amazing discovery—the “I” of the storm is within—there is a place of deep peace that always resides at the center of our being. Just as an ocean at its depths is unperturbed by surface storms, that place of peace within us is never disturbed.

There is a simple practice to access the “I” of the storm. Begin to focus on the breath as it moves in and out. Bring into our mind’s eye an image of someone or something we appreciate. Activate that feeling of appreciation and let it expand and radiate as we create a coherent energetic field of peace.

Now more than ever, being a presence of peace in our world is sorely needed. Do not discount the value of creating inner peace and sharing it with the world. As Margaret Mead writes, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Planetary healing emerges through every peaceful heart.

Dr. Jane Simmons is an ordained Unity minister and co-ministers with her husband, Dr. Gary Simmons, at Unity Spiritual Center, 2900 S. Bernard St., in Spokane. She holds a doctoral degree in theology from Holos University and is the author of numerous books including her latest, You Can’t Sleep Through Your Awakening. She is also the co-founder of The Q Effect. For more information, visit UnitySpokane.org or TheQEffect.com.