Yesterday was Christmas and we woke up to a quiet winter cool morning. We celebrate Hanukkah, the holiday of light and hope, but one of the muscles I have developed with the years is the muscle of my curiosity, being open to learning about other cultures, about other religions and also about different perspectives of different people who think and do things differently than me. One of the things I have learned about Christmas is the importance of the word peace and its link to Christmas. So when I saw a quote yesterday about peace it inspired me to write about my journey with peace.
As an Israeli who grew up and spent her first 30 years of life in the middle east, I didn’t realize that what many of us are craving, peace, was part of our daily conversation. We use the word peace so many times a day but with a little twist. You see the word: “Shalom” is what we say when we greet each other with hello/hi, sometimes it might mean: welcome, but the real essence of the word Shalom that we use so many times each day in Hebrew, and in Arabic too is the same word we use to talk about PEACE. One words two main usages and it makes sense since the original greeting was a bit longer: “May there will be peace upon you.” Which again is the same in Arabic and Hebrew. It strikes me now, how I was caught up in my daily habit of greeting others with the word: “Shalom” that I haven’t really paid attention to the deeper meaning of this word. Since this blog is all about getting messy it was interesting to notice myself in the creation of this blog post and the thoughts that were running in my head while writing these lines, it started with a very judgmental perspective about my lack of connection with my behaviors, and then I was able to find compassion for myself then and understand that I needed to disconnect and detach myself so I would be able to believe and hope that in an environment of constant external conflict, still what many including me want and crave for is peace.
After the move to the US, the external conflict transferred into an internal one. For the first time in years there was so much noise in my head that I wasn’t able to hear anything. It is like you walk around with an untuned radio station, no matter how much I was trying to listen to the stations clearly it felt like constant noise. My husband was talking and I couldn’t listen him, my kids were speaking to me while we were walking or playing together and I couldn’t really listen to them, my friends were talking but I couldn’t listen them. All I heard were constant noises in my head saying: When are you going to figure out your plan? What are you going to do with yourself? Why are you so stuck? Why did you lose your confidence? Why did I do to feel this way?
I had so many internal conversations with myself, but were they really conversations? When I look back I can see that they were more of question after question after facts (or maybe opinions) about who I am, or maybe who am I not being and it was painful, and exhausting and burning and confusing that when others tried to talk with me, I lost the skill of listening. They were just background noises. I was craving quiet; I was craving internal peace.
Few years passed by, first I had to learn how to listen to others and it started with a different listening to the noises in my head. I learned to choose how I listen to those voices and then I was able to listen to others. It started by learning to be quiet internally and move my attention from listening to myself to listening to the heart of others, to be curious about them, to listen without the need to tell them what is their need, I waited for them to share their needs. And with the learning of how to listen to others I was also able to contain a new perspective about external conflicts that were part of my life: conflict in our core family, conflict in my workplace and a conflict that was in the middle east. One day while having a conversation with my kids, something in the conversation opened my heart to listen to something that I haven’t noticed before. I realized how easy it is to hate, it takes a millisecond to hate, but it can take lifetime to learn how to love again the one you hate. In that moment I promised myself that I will bring peace one heart at a time and it started with taking the time to learn how I can bring peace first to my heart. I signed up for a special training that teaches the heart of conflict and I learned how to show up differently in relationships with others and myself. I learned that we all tend to focus on fixing others, especially in relationships, and what we are trying to fix is what we push the others to do even more, I had to learn that if I want others to change I need to change, and only when I change others will choose their path toward me. If I change for them to change, I don’t really impact a change, but rather a manipulation for the sake of me. I had to feel pain from others so I can teach myself to stand still and be okay with what they did, and then I had to learn that what they did was not always with the focus on "doing it to me" - I had to learn that when I think that others did something to me it might have only been my personal interpretation but not their intention, I had to learn to hold them with love while they were hurting me, and I had to learn that many times what others do to me, is not really them trying to hurt me, but rather they being messy with themselves and the impact is on me. I had to learn that in the midst of my anger, my pain and my hurt to hold myself and my emotions with compassion and that’s when I learned that peace is not about quiet my thoughts or others’ noises, peace is about holding everything you have, notice it and open your heart to be okay with it. Most important I have learned that like everything else, there will be times when I will be better with staying at peace, and times that I won’t and that’s okay too, what I can offer myself is to always try again to practice being at peace.
In few days the new year will knock on the door and I will welcome her (I just feels like it is her) with a smile and say: “Shalom 2018,” and to you I wish PEACE in your heart even when the noise is surrounding you.
What do you wish for yourself in 2018?
“Peace - It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” - unknown