13 Dec HOW YOU CAN LIVE PEACEFULLY IN A TIME OF TRAGEDIES BY KARLA B. PONDER, M.S., L.P.C.

The holidays are here, and with them come more stress to get the shopping, decorating, baking, and other preparations completed. The New Year is traditionally a time when we review, resolve, and react to what we feel should have been accomplished the previous year.  To add to these stresses, the news is filled with negative reports and so many tragedies involving shootings, bombings, wars, and murmurings of wars.

Christmas is the time of celebration of The Prince of Peace! But how do we stay in a place of peace with all the mayhem in the world? The answer is to stay focused on peace and to stay positive.

Stay focused on peace and maintain your own peacefulness. This means that when you hear of a tragedy, and your feelings of empathy throw you into sadness and you feel helpless, say a prayer for those involved, and allow the Almighty to take charge of the situation. Your job is to hold the peace and the Light within, and to radiate this to others. The positive energy you generate is the best, and sometimes the only, help you can generate.

Don’t allow anything to knock you off kilter.  Always bring your mind back to peacefulness. Two of the best methods I know of remaining in a place of peace are:

*PRAYER

Philippians 4:6 states, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.

There is nothing better than prayer to help connect us to God. We can ask Him for help in situations involving ourselves and others. We can take our troubles to Him and He will carry the

burden. We can give thanks to Him for the good in our lives. Staying connected spiritually is your lifeline in all of life’s situations.

*MEDITATION

John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Where prayer is supplication and thanksgiving—us talking to God, meditation is us listening to God. It is a state of alert relaxation.  First take a few, deep, relaxing, cleansing breaths. Then breathe in deeply through your nose to the count of five, hold the breath to the count of five, and blow out through pursed lips. Allow your shoulders to relax with each exhalation.

Do these relaxation breaths five times. Now focus on a saying such as, “I am at peace”, a word (such as “joy” or “love”), or an object (i.e. the cross, a candle flame). While breathing slowly, keep this focus. Your mind will wander like a naughty puppy, but don’t scold it! Just harken back to your meditation.  The important thing is to meditate regularly rather than to have long sessions at a time.  As you are more comfortable with the process, you will look forward to this special spiritual time and become more relaxed and centered when under stress.

Through prayer and meditation, you can stay focused and positive, remembering God’s love for us, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  May the peace of this Christmas Season endure for you and your family all throughout the New Year!