“Begin to love yourself. You have to find the peace within you. If you recognize the peace and joy within, you’ll be able to give the same to everyone. You’re not really giving that peace and joy, you’re helping them to find their own peace and joy. First, find it within yourself. Because everything begins at home. There is a proverb: “Charity begins at home.” But I would say, “Everything begins at home.” If you have joy, you give joy to others.
A walk in Muir Woods is like visiting a primeval temple. It’s hard to be still enough to fully experience the profound silence one encounters. Whenever we spend time in nature and fully open ourselves, we harmonize our energies with the innate rhythms of the natural world. We attune the conscious mind to the vibration of our primordial Self in the same way we can tune a receiver to a desired frequency.
A walk in the woods can feel deceptively normal if we remain preoccupied with our mental stories or remain caught up in conversation. If we observe silence, habitual thoughts dissolve as we are saturated with the exquisite quiet and healing colors of the surroundings. One doesn’t need a pilgrimage to India to find ancient environments that inspire deep practice. All it takes is dedicating our time to be fully present to our original home.
Visualize a ship setting off on a long voyage and how it must point itself in the right direction to reach the intended destination. Then imagine that the course it sets is slightly off target. By the time it travels a great distance, it will be far from its goal.
The same thing can happen to us if we are not clear about the direction we really want to go. There are so many influences that can throw us off course, so many diversions that vie for our attention–like glass jewelry, shiny but of little value.
The beginning of a new year can be an ideal time to reflect and clarify for ourselves what is most important to us, to ask ourselves, “To what overall purpose do I want to devote my life?” There is a great benefit in reflecting on this, jotting down ideas, and ultimately stating clearly for ourselves what we want to achieve.
This statement then becomes a potent tool for evaluating both the major decisions and many smaller choices we must make on a daily basis. I like to ask myself the question, “Is the way I am using my time and energy in harmony with what I really value in this life?” The clearer I become about what is most important to me, the easier it is to say no to the many activities that may be interesting but not meaningful.
If we want our lives to be centered on spiritual values, we must consciously make time for the teachings and practices that attune our hearts and minds to Spirit. Since we are so strongly influenced by the culture around us—which has also shaped our subconscious minds—most of us need to reconnect over and over to the spiritual truths we have come to believe in.
Thus, I believe it is essential to build into our lives some regular method of calling forth the Divine Presence within, whether it is by meditating or serving, chanting or praying, studying or loving others. Otherwise, our ships can easily be blown off course by the strong winds around us. Each of us can create a personal vision for this life, and take the steering wheel in hand, so let us make good use of this opportunity. Doing so makes our lives much more meaningful and enjoyable.