‘’As I close my eyes I remember the swing. I can feel the gentle sway. As I dig my feet deeper into the feeling, lifting my head to the sky. I can see a few white clouds, lazily strolling in the pure blue sky. They won’t be rushed and I align my breathing to their rhythm. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. The soft sound of the wind in the leaves fills my mind, leaving room for nothing else. I was at peace on that porch, in that swing. Nothing could touch me. And nothing can touch me now. I am within. Within is where tranquility lives. It is where I live.
Hélène Nicole Richard, Seven days to a more sensual life.’’
I am writing this article in a stressful time
The world is battling a virus that is now at my door. Like many who have traveled abroad in the last weeks, I am self-isolating as per my government’s instructions. My peace and tranquility are challenged.
My income stream during this life transition from children entertainer to blogger/speaker/writer was coming from substitute teaching. But the schools here are now closed. Venues are closing, events are canceled, so my plans of earning through speaking are postponed. It is said this could last months. I am as concerned as most people are in troubled times like these. My 87-year-old stepmom is battling pneumonia alone in the hospital as visits are forbidden. And my long-time friend and children’s dad is on a ventilator fighting the virus.
While this is happening I am writing my first article for this new dream of mine; Helene’s Inner Beauty School. I have been learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools and acquiring new knowledge on how to blog in the past year. I have read numerous books from the best spiritual guides. I have taken up many classes. I kept postponing using my new skills due to a case of ‘am-not-good-enough–yet’ stinking thinking as strong as this virus.
Distraction from fear doesn’t solve anything
Procrastination is caused by fear. To escape the fear last night I distracted myself with an action movie. Then I watched the news until late while keeping an eye on social media platforms. Which is a surefire method to grow more fear within myself.
In consequence, I stayed in bed until almost noon this morning. It is Sunday but there will be no meetings, no services, no lunch with friends. Many of them are isolating too. It’s just me in the quicksand and turmoil of fear. The security blanket of routine yanked out from under my feet without warning.
I cannot binge on food because I did not buy any of my usual binge food while planning this isolation period. I thought, let me see if I can be a big girl and not binge. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am a binger. That is what I do! So in lieu of food, I binged on news, which led to more fear, which led to paralysis. So here I am.
My goal is to lead myself and hopefully you too, back to peace and tranquility.
So I shall start with my favorite go-to solution. I will write. Write the bad out to make room for the good that can be. The good that is despite anything I can think, see, hear or read. Write the fear out of me, give a name to its energy and use it for my own good. It worked before. It will work again, it’s what I know for sure as Oprah would say.
Peace exists within, that is a fact.
Peace is like I am, like air is, like you are. In my short poem on peace in the intro, I state that fact. So what is missing in me right now is the connection between my mind and peace. I lost my way. I disconnected myself somehow.
But peace is always there waiting for me to feel it again. To recognize its existence. In French, my first language, recognize means ‘to know again’. Peace is undeniable to anyone. It does not discriminate. Outside events have little to do with your inner peace.
When I understand that peace is a choice,
I can decide to go back to the way of tranquility.
In the Latin root of the word tranquility, we find the words exceedingly, rest and quiet. So whenever I lose my sense of peace, it’s often that I need rest, and then more. The way of tranquility for me usually includes a nap or making sure I get enough sleep. The way of tranquility is also big enough to put some distance between me and the world. The incessant chatter in my head coupled with the noise of the world is enough to make me tilt. I need quiet. And more.
I thus created a way of tranquility much like I have a way to go to the store, visit my dad or do my budget. The way of tranquility, if I travel it often enough, becomes a habit. I go there without a GPS. So here’s what I do to make sure I stay on that path.
Note I did not write the way to tranquility but of tranquility. There is a big difference.
When I am trying to get somewhere instead of knowing I am already there, I have lost my way.
Every time I have a dream I play ‘to pretend’ that I am already there. How does it feel? How does it taste? What were the steps? If I know that I am already there, I don’t need to know the way. The way knows me by now. Just like that famous sculptor who said the sculpture was in the rock, he just cleared the debris around it. I know I am where I want to be, I just need to remove the debris. I call this the practice of ego death.
Death of ego
Sometimes on my daily walk with my dog, I see some dog pooh left behind by some other owner. I take a stick and push it off the trail so that no one steps in it. I don’t have to look for it, my dog is a natural pooh detector.
Pushing it off the trail is my way of removing the debris on the way of tranquility. Many in my town come to this trail to unwind. If I go online on my little town’s Facebook group to rant about those irresponsible owners who don’t pick up after their dog, I will just create more pooh and reanimate my ego, which I am trying to teach to play dead.
This would start a huge thread of self-righteousness. Ego loves those threads. It thrives on those threads much like the National Enquirer. That is not the way of tranquility. Instead, as soon as I notice debris, I remove them if possible. And I do not tell anyone, to avoid ego becoming involved. That simple practice contributes to ego death.
The less ego, the more peace. It is best to do it as soon as possible; then not give it another thought. It’s a practice, one day at a time that chips away at ego.
Lots of debris are living rent-free in my head.
The same thing happens when I observe my thoughts. Lots of debris are living rent-free in my head. So I find a way to observe what is. Lately, I have been observing a lot of scheming.
My mind when not at peace is busy scheming. It is thinking of all the ways I can get what I want or not loose what I have. I will repeat that; I am scheming to get what I want and not lose what I have. That probably occupies 99% of my thoughts when not at peace.
On the way of tranquility, I want nothing. I moved from needing what I want to want what I need, in the knowledge that my needs are already met. So I want nothing.
To want nothing I must let go of my attachment to the past, as whatever I might loose came from the past which does not exist anymore. I must also let go of my attachment to the future as whatever I want doesn’t exist at the moment. I am afraid to lose and want something that does not exist.
It is a waste of my time to want something passed or something that does not exist. That is what I call my ego death. Want and need belong to the ego. Peace and tranquility belong to me.
I am writing this sitting on my front porch. My house is for sale. It’s a gorgeous day, sunny but a bit chilly at –2 Celsius (about 29F). My dog is sleeping beside me, both of us all wrapped up in a blanket. I am at this very moment experiencing peace and tranquility.
Then bang! I see the ‘for sale’ sign and all that is gone in an instant. I think: ‘What if I sell next week? Where will I go? What will I do?’ Gone is the peace and tranquility.
I am again in tomorrow, in the unknown where I will not know what to do.
What to do when you don’t know what to do
See, it does not take much for me to lose my inner peace, but, I have acquired the habit of getting myself back on track. I do not suffer as long as I used to. A few seconds in the spinning wheel I notice where my thoughts have brought me. This habit allows me to tell myself: ‘Yes, but right now you are here, and 4 of your favorite things are here too;’ My swing, my dog, the sun and writing are here. I am back on track. I am back in the moment, the only thing that really exists.
In one of those moments, I intuitively created a 3 painting series and I want to share them with you. They became a powerful meditation tool. They are hanging on the attic ceiling in my room. Each morning I look at them. I read them, ponder on them in silence. I let my inner self fill-up on them. They guide me to where I am, what I am to do and how and what I am.
They too have become a habit or rather they now inhabit me since I have been watching them daily for almost 2 years. These 3 paintings live in me and I live through them. 3 principles and 3 character assets are aligned with them;
First painting: We only live in the moment
‘I am present in the moment’ unifies me with what is. ‘I live in the moment’ allows me to be in the here and now and ‘My home is in the moment’ tells me that I am nowhere when I am not in the now. I am lost in space.
The character asset to practice in between meditations with this principle is Gratitude. A list of what I am grateful for unifies me, makes me feel safe again. The list tells me I am taken care of, I am not alone. Something is watching over me. My list is proof. Click here for an inner worksheet if you don’t know how to start a list of gratitude.
Second painting: We are made of light
‘I am light’. Because of a particular vision, during a meditation, I know we are all light made. I will soon write about it in another article. ‘I am light’ unifies me with all of you, we are no different. We are manifesting differently, that’s all that’s differentiating us. ‘I see the light’ allows me to see how beautiful everyone is and ‘I channel the light’ tells me to get back on the way of tranquility, manifesting peace.
The character asset to practice with this principle is honesty. When I see and acknowledge that I am not more or less than anyone, but simply a piece of the puzzle, I can find my way to the next principle wholeheartedly, knowing that I am needed. I was not born in vain.
Third painting: Discernment and our purpose
The first part of this painted meditation comes in 3 parts and concerns discernment.
- ‘I plant seeds of peace, joy, abundance, and beauty’, unifies me with my purpose and this principle is used at the beginning of anything. This is the beginning of all I am to do.
- ‘I nurture the growth of peace, joy, abundance, and beauty’, allows me to know that once I planted the seed, all I need to do is care for its growth. I do not have to see the result, at that moment my job is to care for it and not worry about the outcome. My lesson lives in caring.
- ‘I harvest and share peace, joy, abundance, and beauty’, informs me that I have done my job and it is time to rejoice. The character assets to practice for this principle are patience and generosity. To practice them, I try to be myself as much as I know-how. I suit up and show up and act according to the circumstances that are facing me.
The second part concerns our purpose
This requires me to have the discernment to know which part to bring into action. Is it the time to sow, nurture or to harvest and share? Years ago when I was starting on my spiritual path I studied a book called Discernment, the art of choosing well by Pierre Wolff I learned that to choose well, I needed:
- Time, thus patience,
- Intelligence, thus information
At each moment of my life, my purpose is either to plant, nurture or harvest and share my gifts.
So now that you are equipped to meditate, let’s get practical;
8 Tips for Peace and Tranquility in Troubled Times.
1. Do not deny fear
Denying fear gives it power. It is like an infectious disease going untreated. It grows and grows. When fear falls upon you, practice stepping back. Observe that you are afraid. I am afraid much of the time. Sometimes a little and sometimes I am on the edge of a panic attack. As soon as I acknowledge where I am, I regain my power.
I tell myself: ‘You are afraid.’ I can tell I am afraid by observing the way I act. I act like on a high. Decisions are made hastily. Things bother me. I have little patience. I binge with the usual suspects. In this song on my first album, I wrote:
I often look at how I act, it’s telling me just how I feel. I don’t always know where am at, feelings in me play hide and seek.
Observing what you do when in fear will help you recognize it sooner. I binge on food and the internet. I shop for things I don’t need or I watch videos non-stop. I also keep very busy doing everything except what is on my to-do list.
So observing your patterns and admitting where you are at, will allow you to feel the fear and do it anyway.
2. Be your own soulmate
Do not wait for a soulmate to show up and save you from challenges and fear or take care of you. No one can do that but you. As soon as I notice being in the grips of fear, I take care of myself. I practice the HALT statement, which I learned about early in my spiritual journey. I check myself for Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness. I attend to those immediately. I worked for years on becoming my own soulmate. I was looking outside when all the while I was the one for me. I was so determined to find my soulmate that I wrote a book about it. It is called Choosing the right one, are you ready for a relationship. Check it out.
3. Fly under the radar
My ego has a powerful radar. It is scanning non-stop for anything dangerous that could change the status quo. ‘Beep beep beep’ it goes as soon as something attracts his attention and immediately shoots at the enemy. His weapon: fearful thoughts. So I fly under the radar. I break projects or dreams in tiny tiny parts. So tiny the radar can’t see them. Sometimes my first task is to make myself a latte. Then I light a candle. Then I turn the computer on. I do meaningless little tasks. I eat the crust around the pie project and one thing leading to another, am through the big scary task.
4. Plan to plan
I read somewhere that failing to plan was planning to fail. So planning what I want to do helps me tremendously. I don’t always follow the plan but when fear creeps up I have a plan to fall back on. Again, follow #3 making your plan. Make sub plans. So when you look at the plan, you are flying under the radar. If fear creeps up again, go back to #3.
Try this for yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and put a big smile on your face. Then try to think a fearful thought like ‘I won’t have enough money’, ‘This will never work’, ‘I am not …enough’. Try doing this smiling. These scary thoughts will have no power. I have a sticky note right on my screen that says SMILE. It’s as simple as that.
6. Make a gratitude list.
I cannot say this enough. Writing all that we are blessed with keeps us in the moment where fear has no room to exist. Each time you will become aware of the grace you live under, you will feel blessed and fear will leave.
Making a list, mentally or on paper, of what I am grateful for, brings me back to reality, thankful for the past and hopeful for the future.
In my book Abundance within your reach (only available in French now, stay tuned), I explain that all that I created in my past came from believing I already had it in my future. I live peacefully in today through the wisdom of the past while creating my future.
When I make a list of gratitude I realize I have so much, within me and around me. That leaves no room for wanting, for greed. The more honest my list, the longer it gets. When I become aware of all that I am and all that I have, I then can practice generosity fearlessly.
And my list of gratitude also includes all the courage that I have shown in the past. When I look back sometimes I don’t know how I did it. I went through trying times. I went through dark times. I sank deeply in sorrow and depression. But always I have resurfaced walking the way of tranquility.
Maybe you don’t like to write. A lesser option is recording. I once had a mentee who could not write. He spoke into his phone. It worked for him. Again if you don’t know how to do a gratitude list, check out the inner worksheet section.
State the fear and then write the truth and the proof behind your truth. In my spiritual program, it is also called play the tape through. I call it: Calling the fear’s bluff.
Here are some examples of my fears;
Fear says: ‘No one will ever read this, it’s boring and no good.’
I answer: ‘Perhaps, but I am reading it. I am liking it. And I am worth writing for.’
Proof: ‘I already reread this 3 times while writing it, each time starting in a state of fear, and both reading and writing it has taken me out of my state of fear.’
Fear says: ‘You think you’re so smart.’ Another way my fear tells me I am stupid.
Answer: ‘Yes actually. I think I am smart.’
Proof: ‘I passed high school and I have a college degree. I raised 2 kids and they are still alive and doing well. I succeeded in the puppy training lessons. My puppy now poohs and pees outside without fail, sits, gives me her paw and even dances! See? I am really smart.’
Fear says: ‘You’ll never make any money with this, you’ll go broke and end-up in a women’s shelter.’
Answer: ‘Perhaps, but in the women’s shelter, I will be sheltered. There will be help and I am sure that I will be helpful there if I get there. So I will take my chance to expand.’
Proof: ‘Remember when I tried to open a café and I failed? Did I die? No, I learned that though I love cafés, I hate running them. I got to know myself better.’
Write out the fears one by one until they get tired. They will. Nothing lasts forever, even fear.
8. Be the peace
Go help others who need peace. This works trust me. I have a long list of phone numbers of people I can be the peace for. At other times I take action. I create an event online or in-person that might solve a problem. Sometimes I do a live appearance on social media platforms and I share where am at. Again writing it out helps.
I belong to online groups of entrepreneurs, spiritual people, and even cooking groups. I go there and share my peaceful self. I write blog posts a little at a time. Easy does it. I make myself visible and vulnerable. Most times all I need is to get out of myself and my own stinking thinking. for example, if I am stuck in hectic traffic, letting someone in helps. Helping others find peace and tranquility helps me get it.
Call someone and ask how they are. If they are in fear bring a smile to the table. If they are caught up in fear bring them back to peace. Be the peace they need. Say: ‘I find you fearful. Would you like to talk about it?’ Then listen. Tell them of your own fears and how you transcend them the way I just showed you.
Reading prayers about peace really helps me. I found this article which I really like, I hope you like it too.
Not the end…
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