Remember the last time you felt peace in your heart. How long ago was it? How did it feel? How long did it last?
Maximus Freeman, the founder of Nantucket Peaceworks, experienced a conscious sense of inner peace flowing through his heart in 2009. It was the result of his decision to practice unconditional kindness towards all life in all of its expressions. He quickly realized that while practice, especially first efforts, may be imperfect, each successful attempt is rewarded with a positive, peaceful feeling. This feeling strongly reinforces the practice, and continuing practice gradually restructures consciousness. Genuine kindness breeds pure lovingness.
It’s a simple formula: Be Nice = Feel Good.
Freeman founded Nantucket Peaceworks and its path to peace as he explored the practice of kindness and other “virtues of peace” that he identified based on the teachings of great spiritual leaders. Rev. Jennifer Brooks, a Unitarian Universalist minister, joined Freeman to develop the method of practice-and-reflection used in a Peaceworks discussion group.
Called a “circle of trust” (a term used by Quaker author Parker Palmer), the discussion group invites participants to consider one virtue per session. Each session starts with participants’ experiences associated with the virtue. These memories and personal stories encourage reflection on the virtue and what it means to practice that virtue in daily life.
Reflection on the virtues strengthens the ability to practice them throughout an ordinary day. Awareness is part of the practice. Noticing an opportunity to practice a virtue, whether or not we are able to do so, leads to awe-inspiring revelations. Insights gleaned in this practice-and-reflection stimulate personal and spiritual growth, leading us farther along the path to peace.
Every situation that we encounter, and our response to it, is an opportunity to develop inner peace. Instead of seeking peace on the “outside” (material things, escape, or physical sensation), practice of the virtues of peace allows people to recognize the peace that is available within each and every one of us. The Peaceworks circle of trust helps participants learn about themselves through reflection, practice, and the support of others who are also learning to practice peace.
The approach is simple, but practicing these virtues can be challenging. Every person has obstacles to the practice of peace. Identifying and tackling these obstacles—hand-in-hand with practice of the virtues—is another outcome of the practice-and-reflection approach. Join us and lead yourself along this proven path to personal transformation and inner peace.
Below are definitions of the virtues that continue to evolve with each of our reflections:
Here are twelve “virtues of peace” that Nantucket Peaceworks encourages participants to incorporate into their daily lives through the practice-and-reflection approach—
1. Honesty: Truthfulness, sincerity and self-knowledge. Communicating and acting authentically with oneself and others.
2. Humility: Freedom from false pride or arrogance. Having an awareness of one's own shortcomings and others’ strengths.
3. Gratitude: Thankful appreciation for what one has received. Showing gratefulness and recognition to others.
4. Understanding: Knowledge, awareness, and intuition. The ability to comprehend one’s own and other’s feelings, attitudes, and point of view.
5. Acceptance: Acknowledgement of the truth regarding a situation or condition; appreciation and validation of one's own and others' human personalities (even our traits we may wish to change); letting go of resistance and denial; absolute cooperation with the inevitable.
6. Forgiveness: A letting go or releasing of resentments. The willingness to move beyond past events, perhaps to reconcile and restore.
7. Tolerance: Open-mindedness to ideas, opinions and practices that differ from one's own; the absence of prejudice; a live-and-let-live attitude.
8. Patience: Calm endurance of hardship, pain or delay. Demonstrating perseverance, restraint and determination.
9. Graciousness: The attribute of being kind to all. Politeness, cordiality and good-natured disposition.
10. Benevolence: Friendliness, kindness, selflessness and the inclination to be generous. Having a love of humankind accompanied by a desire to encourage the happiness of others.
11. Compassion: A deep empathy that gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering.
12. Integrity: Moral consistency of actions, values and principles. Honesty in regard to the motivations of one’s actions.
The human spirit thrives in a safe, supportive setting in which to explore, learn, and grow. At Nantucket Peaceworks, we believe in the power of small groups of people who listen attentively and with love. We invite you to experience a greater understanding of the virtues of peace and to develop your practice of them in your daily life. Join us in practice and reflection via the 13-week Peaceworks discussion group beginning in October. Together we can create a quiet, nourishing, safe space where our inner teachers will emerge.
To explore your path to peace in October, please contact Nantucket Peaceworks.Only seven spaces remain.
View the Peaceworks “circle of trust” curriculum to further explore this 13-week journey.