Learn how to live more peacefully



Roses 2

Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “grow, grow.”

The Talmud

The desire to grow, to flourish, is one of the most basic drives in nature. When we see a fragile seedling emerge from the ground and strive rapidly upwards, or watch a young child take its first steps, we are witnessing the desire of every living being to establish itself in the world and maximise their potential. After we’ve sow lettuce seeds, we don’t expect any of those seeds to deliberately sabotage themselves, to grow more slowly so that seeds 45 to 55 may thrive instead. Yet we as humans frequently hold ourselves back, often with the intention of assisting others. Much of this is essential in order to live in harmony with each other, to ensure the protection of more vulnerable people.

We learn to reign in our desires so they don’t harm others or ourselves. A gentle self-discipline seems to be crucial for a ‘good life’, a flourishing life. And yet the pendulum can swing too far the other way, where we deprive ourselves in ways which may lead to a poverty of spirit, to feelings of resentment, disillusionment, isolation. Sometimes these feelings are obvious, but more often they can be quite subtle.

One of the benefits of a regular mindfulness practice is the ability to attune to our internal signals when they are quite subtle, rather than only becoming aware of them once we’ve made some harsh sarcastic comment at a wedding and everyone is staring at us in horror. It is natural to feel resentment at times, to not always be a saint who is happy for everyone else (and who never once asks, ‘but what about me?’). Yet these subtle feelings of resentment or jealousy can be a message to us that our life is out of balance; that perhaps we are not allowing ourselves to flourish as we should.

It is natural for us to want to be fulfilled. There may be external circumstances holding us back which we have little control over, but we do have a choice when it comes to the more insidious, internal self-sabotage we can all engage in from time to time. Sometimes, like that blade of grass with its angel, we just want to grow into our potential.

Weekly practice idea:

What do you need in order to flourish? Think of one small act you can do this week, which will give you a sense of thriving. Set some time aside for it, and reflect afterwards on what it meant to you.

Anja Tanhane