Seven Practices of Peace

Week one: awakening

Light shines for the first time
In this first stage, before the light hits, we grope in darkness. We might be thinking only about ourselves, having more wealth or attractiveness, or getting people to listen to and respect us. Since we are asleep to the real, spiritual world within everything, our life is "empty, dark and void." The change begins when we start to acknowledge some higher power, something more than the shallow life we've been living. This is like a light dawning, bringing a first feeling of peace.

Week two: distinguishing

Waters above from waters below
Once we have awakened to God's presence, we begin to distinguish between what's really important and what isn't. Often, these two first phases come about in times of trouble. Hardship or heartache washes away shallow concerns. It's hard to obsess about our new bad hair cut, for example when we find out that our uncle has cancer. We start to mature and we see a separation between the things that do and don'™t matter. In this stage, we realize that we have an inner place thats's peaceful and separate from mental chatter, and we begin to realize that the best things in life are people, and not things.

Week three: cultivating

Tender plants grow
When we have distinguished what's important from what isn't, the "soil" of our mind is ready to hear the truth, and a tender, more compassionate side of us can begin to take root. We might start to notice the things that have been holding us back. Maybe we have trouble forgiving, so we make an effort to start treating others better, with less judgment. These efforts are like the tender plants beginning to grow.

Week four: navigating

Sun, moon and stars placed in the sky for light
The more we practice changing our destructive habits, the easier it becomes. Our principles become clearer - they are like the sun and moon, the "lights" that lead us. The "sun" of love stirs us to care, while the "moon" of faith sheds understanding during the dark times.

Week five: speaking

Fish swim and birds fly
In this stage, the things we do or say have new energy and life because we no longer take credit for them. We become stronger advocates for what we know is true, and we feel more love for others.

Week six: loving

Humans are created in the image of God
Finally, we not only say what we mean, we also act on our beliefs, from a loving frame of mind. In this stage, we fully embrace our spiritual heritage as men and women created in the image of God.

Week seven

Resting. No more work; there is peace
At the seventh stage, we experience a state of peace, joy, and contentment. After the peace and rest, there will likely be more challenges and periods of darkness that inspire us to a new awakening. The cycle begins again, from evening to morning, as we become newly created from within.