I remember one time many years ago I was talking to my mother on my cell phone while driving somewhere through Iowa. (Don’t worry. Hands free.) The conversation resulted, as it often did, in conflict. I was skating along the edge of my last nerve with her — a sadly familiar pattern with my mother. I had not yet found ways to break our habit of always lunging right toward each other’s hot buttons. At that point, I had been practicing yoga for a few years and completed my first teacher training. While driving 75 miles per hour down I-80 in the hills of Iowa, I paused before being consumed by anger. I expanded my tight chest with a fuller inhale and exhale while she spoke. In what felt like a miracle, I felt the tension in my body release, breath slow, and my mood soften. When it was my turn to respond, I was able to speak with a much calmer, grounded, and assertive voice.
The use of my breath in that moment, which took hundreds of hours of yoga and pranayama practice to cultivate for use in a tense moment, instantly brought peace in my mind and body. It didn’t solve all the problems with our relationship. It didn’t make my day less busy. It didn’t change her illnesses that prompted the conflict. But, it DID produce a moment of peace in an otherwise stressful day and show me a tiny hint of how things could be different.
Peace is not something we find simply in the big miracles, like the day of Jesus’ birth; we find it in the everyday movement of breath in the midst of conflict. The Hebrew people at the time of Jesus’ birth understandably expected a warrior King; someone who was going to overthrow their Roman occupiers and take back their land. But, that is not how Jesus arrived. He came as a poor son of a young woman and a carpenter. He was the Prince of Peace, not the King of War and Empire. He brought awareness to the subtle peace that can easily escape notice in the chaos. A peace that is as fragile and as wondrously resilient as a newborn. A peace stemming from an internal connection to the Divine, not status bestowed upon us by cultural power. Perhaps this is why Divine peace surpasses understanding.
Join me on a creative journey of peace (and hope, joy and love) this Advent season. If you sign up for my email list, you will receive a free copy of “A Mindful Advent: Four Practices for the Lighting of the Advent Wreath.” I will also be leading these Mindful Advent practices each Sunday in Advent at 8 p.m. ET on Facebook Live on the Nicole Havelka Consulting Facebook page.