Home / Features  / We all need a Little Shelter

We all need a Little Shelter

Manic in Manila

I have always said, half-jokingly, that the Philippine government should earmark a portion of its budget for hazard pay for each of its residents. Life in this country is tough, and only the toughest of us go beyond the state of surviving to the elusive ideal of thriving. Think: traffic, pollution, meager pay, noise, violence, corruption, disorder, inefficiency, dirty politics, Machiavellian politicians, the list stretches on. Need I say more?

This is a sentiment, however, that I have been careful about expressing in public – being a foreigner, by citizenship, I do not wish to be perceived as “that white person” with anti-nationalistic sentiments.

Then again, you see, I AM a fake white chick in this country, having been born and raised in Manila. I have paid my dues, many times over, so I suppose I am entitled to express this opinion – as long as, that is, I do not make myself part of the problem and try my darndnest to be part of the ever-elusive solution. Besides, all that leaves a bad taste in your mouth is somehow balanced out by the good that so clearly remains on these islands. But that is fodder for another column.

Then, I stop and realize that the chaos is not limited – no longer is; perhaps, never was – to life on these islands: it is a global phenomenon, these days. No matter where you run, it is there – the unrest, the strife, the lack of peace.

Where do you go for peace? I’m glad you asked. The long and the short of it is: we must create it within.

A little shelter

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I adored Cinderella. Not the one-glass-slippered princess (although she’s pretty cool, herself.) The band. The big-haired, leather-clad, skinny-legged demi-gods of glam. Among my top picks from these gurus of glitz and glitter rock is a screechy, gritty, catchy little ditty called, Shelter Me. I could go ahead and type every single lyric, and end this piece, really, but I will leave that between you and Google, and give you the just a snippet: Everybody needs a little place they can hide / Somewhere to call their own / Don’t let nobody inside / Every now and then we all need to let go… We all need a little shelter / Just a little helper to get us by / We all need a little shelter / Just a little helper (ooo) and it’ll be alright.

Inner peace is that shelter. It is a respite from life’s harsh conditions: from the body counts you hear about on the morning news from last night’s skirmish/bombing/terror attack/ TOKHANG operation/what-have-you, from life’s daily stressors which come at you like heat-seeking missiles, from your endlessly frustrating job that you hang onto, tooth and nail, for fear of endlessly frustrating poverty, for instance. Your inner safe place is a flourishing, pleasant oasis and refuge, in the midst of a barren and arid area of lack.

Strong, in the face of stress

Inner peace, often also referred to, as peace of mind, is the state of being mentally and spiritually at peace. The person in possession of inner peace has what it takes and is equipped with sufficient understanding to stay strong in the face of stress. To borrow a highly-overused marketing tag line these days, this is the ability to ‘KEEP CALM AND…” You fill in the rest of the line.

The state of being “at peace” is the opposite of “being anxious” or “being stressed,” despite circumstances that would otherwise bring on a stress-reaction. Inner peace is often associated with bliss, happiness and contentment.

If we can liken it to a flashlight, inner peace is the ability to shine or illuminate the positive things in your life, even in the presence of negative things and challenges. If all we ever do is beam our attention on the negative things; if we give in to the spirit of “doom and gloom” (think Glum from Gulliver’s Travels, and his constant lamentations of “We’ll neeeeeeveeeeer make it!” – this is pretty much all we will see in our lives. Eventually, this will consume, overwhelm and break us.

To stay positive, FOCUS on the positive – make that choice, and let the positivity radiate within.

Recharge your batteries

Your shelter from the stress of daily life protects you from many undesirable effects. Cultivating a sense of inner peace provides numerous benefits; among them, the ability to revitalize and recharge your mind, body, and soul (including your emotions). Think of it as a way to recharge your batteries, so to speak.

Inner peace revitalizes you from the inside out, and this helps you feel happier, be healthier, and even look younger! And who does not want THAT?

Plus, being in tune with your sense of inner peace or allowing your peace of mind to prevail enables you to be more in control of yourself and your reactions to situations. You may not have much control of events around you, but you will definitely have greater control of events within you, and of your reactions to external factors. Ultimately having a sense of inner peace allows you to take greater control over your life; to really be “in charge.”

The ripple effect

Yet another most awesome aspect inner peace is the ripple effect it creates. Like the ever-radiating and expanding ripples created when an object is dropped into water, the inner peace “dropped” into you ripples across your life incrementally.

It touches your family.
It touches your friends.
It touches your community.
Your city.
Your nation.

And if enough ripples are created from each individual across communities, cities, and nations, then who’s to say that our inner peace can’t touch the world?

I, for one, say that it CAN.