​Does being present sow peace?

Commentary by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Today I was on the war path. I had to resolve something at the local council that I believed was an error on their part and I went along ready to make my arguments felt. While I was on my way there I was fuelling my defensive attitude by thinking of my arguments and in that way stoking up my emotions. When I arrived I had to wait my turn and during that time I set myself to observe that I felt a strong sensation of tension in my chest and that I was ready to do battle. I saw that some of the officials who were dealing with people where also rather annoyed about the problems they faced. And I decided to relax and not work up the fury that I felt on my way there.

Why carry on like that? Was it not possible that I was wrong? Was it not possible that the officials were tired of people who came along, like me, believing that they were right instead of enquiring? No doubt.

I laughed inwardly about my aggressive attitude of a few moments earlier.

When my turn came, I went over calmly and smiling. I asked the woman who dealt with me for help in understanding what I was being asked for. She smiled too and we had a pleasant conversation and clarified the whole matter. When something within us questions whether the life we lead has to be so vicious and defensive, then an intention may emerge to observe our moods, our reactions, emotions, thoughts and fears etc. with curiosity. And curiously enough we cease to place such emphasis on aggression and we even leave room inside us for something that is like peace. I believe that observing what happens to us in a neutral way, when it happens to us, allows us to stand back and not become drawn in by our automatic reactions. At that moment I can choose the attitude with which I live, and that is linked to peace. In that way, gradually, we are able to discover that we have other paths to travel within us and that they may contain the peace that, deep down, we are seeking.