Zen Hands



What do we think of when we think of serenity?  An ocean beach with the sound of gentle waves lapping the sand, or an open meadow with the shining sun, blooming trees and singing birds? For most of us, the answer is yes.  Our place of serenity hypothetically exists in a distant land where everything is perfect, void of problems, and things just seem to fall into place.  In this paradise, we see ourselves breath deeply and the weight of the world falls off of our shoulders.  Ironically, true serenity is not 1,000 miles away, but right where you are sitting this very minute.

The definition of serenity, according to good old Webster, is clear and free of storm or unpleasant change.  Sounds a lot like our “happy place” doesn’t it?  We all would love to believe that place exists, an escape from the stressful hectic side of our lives.

Those who are familiar with any of the 12 step programs are likely to know by heart, the Serenity Prayer, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Things we can’t change.  Like other people, the past, and the ugly reality of dirty dishes and laundry!  We can whine, scream, bang our heads against the wall for awhile.  But eventually, we learn to take a deep breath and let go.  Courage to change what we can.  We do our part.  We do what’s in front of us that makes sense to do.  Sometimes we can only do this by taking the tiniest of baby steps.  But even baby steps can take us where we need to go if we just keep moving. The amazing thing is that like a seed, we already contain inside of us everything we need to make the changes inside and outside of ourselves. Wisdom to know the difference.  Whatever our spiritual beliefs may be, we trust that help is being given to us on this journey.  Any time we feel lost or confused, we can take a few minutes to be still, breathe, and listen for guidance.

Our true place of serenity lies in acceptance.  This doesn’t mean that we should abandon our goals, throw up our hands and say, “Well, I guess this is just as good as it gets.”  In fact, it’s quite the opposite! We can gently push ourselves to live the life we want, understanding and accepting the path as it unfolds before us. Not judging or retreating in fear, even though the road ahead can sometimes seem daunting! Instead, we practice watching with an inquisitive eye, and we become fascinated by what life has to offer.  Most of the time we find that where this path takes us is unexpected and better than what we could have planned for ourselves. Serenity is not just believing but knowing that whatever path we choose is the right one for this moment.  And by listening to our intuition, we have access to a guide who can help us keep our balance, even when we take those unexpected detours.

Maitri Movements:

1.) Think of the biggest challenge you're facing in your life now.  Are there any parts of this problem that can’t be changed and might need to be accepted?  What things have you already done to try and change the problem?  Write down the parts of the problem that need to be accepted.  Next, write down the parts that you can change, even if you don’t yet have the courage to take those actions. (Note: if you struggle to answer any of these questions, try a few minutes of meditation to get in touch with your truth.)

2.) Make a list of the top encouraging and supportive people in your life at present.  Ask one (or more) to be your support person for facing the challenge you wrote about in Movement #1. Call this person when you need to gather courage to take an action or if you need help in letting go of something you can’t change.          

3.) Serenity Spot:  Sometimes we really do need a short break or escape from our problems.  But we don’t need tickets to Fiji to get some relief!  Create a safe and calming space in your own home that you can come to for some relaxed breathing and quiet reflection.  It can be as simple as your bathtub, your bed, or even a corner of a room with a meditation mat.  Anywhere that you can have some privacy will work.  It's amazing how a few minutes in a calm space can change your perspective!