Giving Yourself Space to Create Peace in Your Life

We don’t have to carve out substantial blocks of time in our schedules to enjoy a moment of peace. Sometimes all it takes is one deep breath.

Sometimes I think with having a practice of mindfulness, or meditation, whatever name you want to call it, the hardest thing is just making time. I think with 24 hours in a day, things to do, places to be, people who need you, things you need to take care of, we all ask ourselves, how do we make time? What I found is I can’t overthink it or it won’t happen. I want to share a story about how I learned about meditation and this practice but I have to take you back a little ways.

Needing Space for Peace and Quiet

I was born and raised in Oakland California, raised by a single mother. There were a lot of challenges for me and I think the most important information I can tell you is that when I first meditated, I was a sophomore in high school in an English class and I fell asleep. Every day the teacher would come in and start reading some stuff about closing your eyes and blah blah, and I would fall asleep every time! He’d get mad, he was like, “Wake up!?”—when the class had already finished meditating and I was still meditating in my sleep world. He said, “You can’t be sleeping during meditation!” and I’m like, stop telling me to close my eyes because with my eyes closed I got things to do, and sleep is usually one of them.

I wasn’t learning to meditate, I was learning to create space for quiet and peace. I was helping raise my siblings and when I got home there was no quiet and peace until all the dishes were finished, all the clothes were folded, and the vacuuming and cleaning was done. I did all the work, then I got some peace. I wondered what it would be like to have a place where I just get peace? I realized I could create a space of peace and quiet for myself.

Have You Tried Meditation?

I went on to college and my fifth year teaching I got an opportunity to go to India to teach math—an amazing experience! I ended up teaching at a very senior secondary school with very high achieving students. The material that I had to teach was stuff I didn’t even remember. I had to go learn it the night before to teach it. I felt a little bit nervous—ever get nervous about the things you have to get done in a day? Like feeling overwhelmed, feeling not prepared, feeling like you’re not enough?

I remember one day a coworker in the school gave me a flyer that featured a man in a bubble floating in the clouds, and in my head I was like yep, I’m not going to that. I remembered meditation from my sophomore year in high school, and I was like, “Oh, thank you for the invitation” (because I’m learning you need to be respectful and nice and kind). So I’m very respectful and kind but I’m looking at the picture of the man in the bubble and thought, I’m not doing that.

How to Cultivate Quiet in the Chaos

Two days later she sees me again. She says, “Hey did you read that flyer?” I’m like, “Yes, it’s at my house.” I didn’t lie, I just said that it was at my house and she said, “I really think you should come to this meditation course, it’s going to be here at the school.” I’m like, “Yeah I’m not really sure”—my answer is already no but I didn’t want to say no because I have a hard time telling people no. But then she said, “You know there’s a book written by this guy you should read, maybe it’ll give you some context about what this is about, because this is not about religion.” That gave me a little bit of peace, some relief. I often thought that to meditate people have to be dressed in robes, that they have to be wearing all one color and be barefoot. I flipped over to one random page and started reading and it was actually really good.

I read the book in two days. There was a place where this man talked about having a practice that let him find peace and quiet in the chaos of his life. That’s what my practice is about. It’s not about sitting in any special position, it’s not about wearing any special clothes, it’s not about having to go see a guru, it’s about carving out a moment of peace and quiet in the midst of all the chaos of my life. Sometimes with my eyes open on the bus, on the train, in traffic, and I just take a breath.

Watch the video:

Listen to the Audio:

Giving Yourself Space to Create Peace in Your Life

  • 6:49

Follow the Practice:

Can you just take a breath right now? Breathe.

Just take a breath. Breathe.

That’s a practice. I don’t have any special degree to tell you about it. I don’t have any fancy flyers, I just took a breath with you. Imagine if every day you just found moments of saying when can I take a breath, to breathe, to be more present right now. Sometimes people don’t even know you’re doing it, that’s what I think this is going to be about. Spend some time breathing.

Breathe.

I invite you to take some time and ask yourself how often can I find a time to take a deep breath and just be with it?

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The first step to being our most authentic selves is investigating which of our qualities we’re willing to show the world, and which we’d rather hide. Read More 

  • Ashanti Branch
  • August 21, 2021

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About the author

Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch is the founder and executive director of The Ever Forward Club. In 2004, during Ashanti’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males in school. He works to change how students, especially young men of color, interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of it’s more than 150 members graduate from high school.

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