Inner Peace: By Ed Hirsch — I ground the five practices in the mandala of the Five Elements and Five Directions in the body.

Years of spiritual, philosophical, psychological, and body-mind practices have taken the form of a fivefold practice of inner peace.

I ground the five practices in the mandala of the Five Elements and Five Directions in the body.

The center, in the heart, related to the Ether Element, is essential non-doing: "I rest in God. I need do nothing." The core of practice is non-doing, abiding in God as my True Nature or Real Self. I rest in the Being that I have never left.

Practices of Doing that arise out of the Peace of Being are guided by Love, based in non-separation. Practices of Doing that arise out of resistance to the Peace of Being are driven by Fear and the belief in separation. They serve as compensations and distractions, strategies of control in the face of the fear of being separate and out of control.

The upward movement, related to the Fire Element and the direction of the head, is the attitude of Release to God. It is a giving over to God of body, emotions, and mind. It is a release of all cares to God, releasing the need to figure it all out, and saying YES to God in wholehearted faith and trust.

This amounts to turning over each situation, relationship, and my whole life to the Higher Power instead of the control of the ego (that never had real control in any case). I release everything I thought I knew about them. This release is real-ease, the relief from the burden of believing in separation. Only when I take myself to be separate and vulnerable do I believe in the need to be in control and figure it all out.

The downward movement, related to the Earth Element and the direction of the feet, is the willingness to be open to Divine Guidance. I will be shown what to say and what to do, for I am not alone. I adopt the attitude of, "How can I be most helpful?" without assuming that I already know what this should look like or what form it should take. It unfolds in the perfection of God. This aspect is grounded and practical. The release to the Above opens a space and willingness to be guided, for the Higher Power to pour Its grace upon me, to teach and guide me. In what I do and say, I become an extension of Its Love.

The inward movement, related to the Water Element and the receptive left side of the body, is the willingness to be shown anything about myself I need to look at for my own healing. I might be moved or called to practice self-examination or inquiry into my beliefs and strategies. I know that all shown to me is shown by a Loving Intelligence for my healing and awakening. I need not fear or defend against what I see, because it is not really who I truly am. It is all a story about the past and not the Truth of Now, of Being. Once I take responsibility for it, I release it to God and need not obsess about it.

The outward movement, related to the Air Element and the active right side of the body, is the attitude of forgiveness of others (as well as myself). Instead of indulging in blaming and judging, I forgive as a way of undoing any charge that I have with anyone (including myself). I release because I see my own part in it, and so I don't need to project onto others. I forgive because what was done is not who the other truly is.

These five practices, maintain my inner peace. I would rather be happy, in that peace, than seemingly right. And so they become the first things I do rather than something I come to much later, after a lot of suffering of myself and others. I do not look to or depend on others, for inner peace, and so I can be freer and open with others.

Ashlander Ed Hirsch can be contacted at presenceofone@yahoo.com and currently studies with his spiritual teacher Chris Celine of Ashland.

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