[God] grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), theologian, The Serenity Prayer
If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we can't share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we explored ways to find peace inside. We made a connection between our own inner peace and our capacity to bring peace to the world around us, even in difficult situations. In the story "Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom" a girl learns how the well known, nondenominational Serenity Prayer can give her perspective on a conflict with a friend. We practiced using "the wisdom to know the difference" between things we can change and things we cannot in true-to-life situations. We experienced both a walking and a guided meditation and made our own strands of knotted meditation beads.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Share your strategies for finding inner calm in difficult situations. Do you have a meditation practice or another form of spiritual discipline you use to seek inner peace? What situations tend to arise in your family in which it would be helpful for everyone to practice "the serenity to accept the things [they] cannot change, the courage to change the things [they] can, and the wisdom to know the difference"?
A Family Ritual. Conflict in a family is a natural occurrence. When individuals approach a conflict from a place of inner peace and calm, they can facilitate the conflict's resolution. Consider adopting a ritual to use when conflict gets heated in your family. Call a halt to the strife and have everyone involved in the conflict close their eyes, breathe deeply, and picture in their mind something or someone that makes them feel happy or loved: a pet, a dear friend or relative, a tree, a lake, a football stadium, a television program—anything that has strong enough positive associations to help restore a sense of peace and balance. Give yourselves a good minute; then, tell one another what you pictured.
Family Adventure. One of the easiest ways to find inner peace is to envision a favorite location in nature. But, of course, this kind of reflection is only possible when you have had experiences in nature that are familiar enough to call to mind. Plan a family outing to a location everyone agrees can be a "peaceful place": a beach, a campsite in the forest, a cabin in the snow, a nearby park with beautiful trees, a lake—whatever works for your family, location, and circumstances. While there, ask everyone to take some time to be quiet and really observe their surroundings. Paying attention to the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of this "peaceful place" will make it all the more vivid as a meditative refuge.