from A way to God for Today by Anthony DeMello . . .
The vast majority of what causes your peace of mind to be swept away are situations that you cannot change or do not control Meditation and prayer can help build the power to sustain inner peace in spite of these difficulties, but not everyone has the patience or the perseverance for such practices. For those people, I suggest two simple spiritual exercises that are helpful in maintaining your calm and clarity when your are powerless to change or control people or events. The first exercise is acceptance and the second is perspective.
Let’s begin the exercise on acceptance with a very simple prayer most everyone knows.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
There are so many things in our life that we are powerless to change and if we learn to say yes to these things, we will find peace because peace is found in yes. You cannot change the ticking of the clock, you cannot change the death of a loved one, you cannot change the weather, you cannot change so many of your body’s limitations and disabilities.
Now let’s form an exercise from this truth.
- Make a list of the things in your life you cannot change.
- Stand before each one of them and say YES, understanding that in doing that, you are saying yes to God.
If you may find it difficult at times to find it in your heart to accept one difficulty or another, don’t force yourself. See if you can find encouragement in the thought that you are saying yes to God’s will, and recall what the great Italian poet Dante said. Dante said, “In God’s will is our peace.” Reflect on how the vast majority of things that upset your peace are situations you cannot change or control and that when you develop an attitude of acceptance toward them, you will have peace, even with things that we are struggling to change.
The second spiritual exercise that I suggest you try is perspective. What do I mean by perspective?
Think of the time when you were a child and you clung to something so tenaciously, you did not want to give it up. You thought you would not be able to live without them. Now think of some of the things that you detested or rebelled against as a child, or something that you feared. How many of those fears and likes or dislikes and rebellions still persist to this today? What happened to them? They passed away did they not?
So, let’s do the exercise on perspective:
- Make a list of the things that you are possessive of, that you are dependent on, that you don’t want to let go of.
- To each one of these attachments say. “This too will pass away.”
- Now make a list of the things that you dislike and feel you cannot tolerate and in regard to these things say, “This too will pass away.”
- Next, make a list of your fears for the future and of each of those fears you say, “This too will pass away.”
Practice this for two weeks and see what happens to your capacity to be at peace.