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Guard Your Peace

By Janaiah von Hassel

It’s taken me well into adulthood to establish a baseline for inner peace, and admittedly it’s become sacred to me. In my youth, I spent many years giving away my peace to any cause that came my way. It was understandable, in a way: It’s hard to treasure something you don’t have. But as an adult I love to feel peaceful, and when I lose my peace over any situation, I’m eager to restore that feeling of inner calm, joy, and love.

My secret to inner peace is to practice choosing what I think about. For decades my thoughts have had the freedom of running wild and chaotic, causing a barrage of emotions at any given time. I can Hulk out in under three seconds over any given injustice in the world, or cry a river over a soap commercial. I’ve always valued my ability to empathize, and I recognize that I’m a sensitive person easily spun from inspired enthusiasm to heart-wrenching sympathy simply by the nature of the thoughts that come and go in reaction to my environment.

I’ve concerned myself with the notion of being cold or callous if I didn’t mourn with mourners. I’ve wondered who would make the necessary changes in the world, or bring awareness to its apparent evils, if not me. My friends have often referred to me as a “mover and shaker,” knowing that if something in my surroundings needed improvement, I would be on board to approach it and right the wrong.

Charging headlong into battle, I have often felt it was my duty to fight against injustice. There’s not a lot of peace in this war, and believe me when I say it is never-ending. I remember being absolutely impressed by Mother Theresa’s quote: “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” That, along with one of my all-time favorite quotes by Tony Robbins (“Where focus goes, energy flows”), has dramatically changed how I live my life. And the beauty of it is that I’m able to cherish my own joy and peace in the process.

Shortly after my son was diagnosed with autism, we took him to a specialist who revealed testing that suggested his vaccinations were a contributing factor. I was enraged. I had argued with his previous pediatrician about his severe reactions, and this doctor felt I was exaggerating and dismissed my many concerns. At the time I felt I was bullied, even threatened, into an aggressive vaccine schedule that robbed my son and my family. I never wanted another family to suffer through what had happened to us, and so I began aligning with “anti-vax” groups, and connecting with those who had the same unjust experience.

I saw my son as injured, and I felt the medical paradigm stole something from me. I wanted to battle them all to the ground. How dare they see my son as collateral damage? How dare they tell me there was no connection? How dare they tell me to embrace and celebrate his neurodiversity? I would lie awake at night thinking of how every moment I slept, every second I was silent, one more child was delivered to this fate. I wanted to fight for awareness, fight for my son! And my son…wanted his mommy.

It took me some time, and some personal growth, to leave that fight behind me. Recently I had a friend invite me to see the movie Vaxxed, a documentary that exposes some of what I know all too well, and I declined. She argued that I ought to support the movie, that it was our duty as parents of vaccine-injured children to know the facts. I understand her point of view and completely respect it. However, for me, I now guard my peace. I do it for myself, and for my children.

When I learned about what chiropractic care does to boost children’s immune system, I knew that I had found my “pro-peace rally.” I understood that pediatric chiropractic focused on the nervous system, which controls the immune system. I learned everything I possibly could about how chiropractic care supports immune function, so that if I had a friend or loved one who was choosing to vaccinate their child I could share with them how chiropractic care could help boost their child’s immune system, which can support the benefits and minimize the side effects of any vaccination. I also knew that for friends who chose not to vaccinate, I could share with them ways to improve immune function and increase the body’s ability for natural immunization.

My education in pediatric chiropractic was my golden ticket to peace. I was no longer fighting, and I no longer saw my son as vaccine-injured, but as proof that life expresses intelligence and the body has an innate ability to heal and be well. I’ve watched my son progress in ways I never knew were measurable. I’ve come to value his limitations in inexpressible ways, and embrace the sheer joy he exudes as his ability to allow his life to unfold in this way. I do my best to emulate his carefree acceptance of exactly where he is today, whole and perfect in his own eyes and mine.

Recently I drove to the doctor’s office where my son had received his vaccinations. We no longer go there, but I wanted to take a moment to pray a blessing on everyone who walked through the doors. I felt moved to send kind thoughts to the pediatrician I had once felt unbearable rage toward. There was a time I wanted to march into his office screaming, “Look! Look what you’ve done!” In that moment in the parking lot I felt an immense gratitude for what this doctor’s role has been in my life, teaching me the importance of inner peace.

I have chosen to practice my belief that everything is in perfect balance for my family. I choose to practice the belief that my son came to this earth with a divine purpose and that this life is unfolding opportunities for him to fulfill that purpose, even when I don’t understand or see the blessing. I choose to practice feeling grateful for what the experiences in this doctor’s office have given us, not what was taken. I sat in that parking lot feeling no need to forgive, as I no longer felt wronged. I was immersed in a moment of unconditional love.

I still have moments where I get stuck in negative thought patterns. I see my son struggle to communicate or learn a new skill, and an old negative thought creeps in. More and more I’m able to quickly release that thought and choose a new one that better supports my son and brings me back to a feeling of peace and appreciation. I’m reminded of the Albert Einstein quote, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” I choose to believe I live in a friendly universe, where all things are being worked together for good.

My hope in sharing this is that any mother who is holding on to grief, pain, or the need to fight injustice, will allow herself peace. You don’t have to fight in every battle. It truly is OK to guard your heart. It is OK to be happy. It is OK to say no to the things that rob you of your joy, even if they’re “right.” I know there will come a time for me when I can watch a documentary or comment on a Facebook status regarding vaccines without losing my peace, but that time is not now.

I have learned that I can do a lot more positive things in the world when I’m coming from a positive place. I’m by no means saying that a person should not share their values or lobby for the reforms they want to see in the world, but I am suggesting that you guard your peace and come from love. There is so much more beauty in doing good than in fighting “bad.”

We moms can be extremely self-sacrificing, but every bit of our energy that we give away to anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, or the fight against injustice, is a piece of us that our children can’t have.

I don’t have this completely down pat. Being a fighter is something that I’ve always regarded highly about myself. I have to retrain my thoughts to think on good things, to embrace the beauty, to put my boxing gloves away and allow good feelings to flow. It takes practice, but it all starts with allowing yourself to walk away from thoughts and things that feel bad.

What I now understand about my propensity to be a “mover,” “shaker,” “fixer,” or “fighter” was my inability to be still, my feelings of brokenness, and my own need for punishment. As I work on these things inside me, I see healing in the world around me.