MAINTAINING INNER PEACE
A long time ago, way back in the university, there was a young undergraduate who practised yoga consistently. For many of us, it was something of a rarity. The young man went through a definite routine; every evening, he would take a bath, dress in Indian attire with the requisite head gear, lay a white cloth on the ground and begin his meditation. A lot of us teased him then, calling him Krishna and some other Indian names but we also admired his calmness and high sense of tolerance. No matter what was going on, he never missed a session and he always acted a little more mature than everyone else. One day, I asked him why he practiced yoga, and he told me that he used to have panic attacks and that it was yoga that helped him relax and maintain balanced emotional and health levels.
I wanted to know more but the practice of wearing the Indian clothes and the entire ritual that he observed made it look burdensome to me (later, I understood that those were just his personal preferences). I may not have fully imbibed the habit of yoga practice but I do know the benefits of shutting off the noise and retreating to a place of inner calm and peace.
There are many things going on right now and people are passionately chasing their goals or lending their voices in support of one ideology or the other. There is frenzy in the political arena especially in Nigeria now, with emotions flying high in support or condemnation of different political views and it is a good time to endeavour to attain and maintain inner peace. It is a good time to strip the mind of all burdens and just stay quiet and calm.
Attaining and maintaining inner peace is an ongoing practice that requires a combination of physical, mental and spiritual habits, not necessarily yoga. Here are some tips to help you maintain inner peace:
Be fully present always: Give thought to your environment, emotion and words at all times, never talk carelessly or move blindly into situations. Some people say that this removes the joy of spontaneity but it also helps with consistency and reliability. It helps you to be more seasoned in what you say and reduces regret. Most importantly, being mindful of what is happening within and around you will help you to develop greater self-awareness and to make quick decisions.
Meditate regularly: Meditation is a powerful tool for cultivating inner peace. Whether the full yoga practice or some other religious and relaxation routines, do whatever helps you to concentrate on your inner being and exclude the external worries to help you relax, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. The deep breathing and relaxation techniques used in yoga can activate the nervous system, which can help the body and mind relax. You can start with a few minutes a day and gradually increase your practice. Fortunately, there are materials online that would help you.
Practice gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of your life and practice gratitude regularly. By acknowledging and appreciating what you have, you can cultivate a sense of contentment and inner peace.
Set personal boundaries: Be your own person, faithfully committing to the things that matter to you. Learn to say “no” to things that don’t align with your values and priorities. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and being taken for granted.
Stay physically active: Regular exercise can also help you reduce stress, improve your mood and increase your energy levels. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. Spend time with nature; this can help you feel grounded and connected. Take a walk in the park or any serene environment, go for a hike or simply sit outside and enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
Practice self-love and surround yourself with positive energy: This is no rhetoric, the more you surround yourself with people and things that bring you joy and positivity, the better your temperament and general well-being. Avoid negative influences that can drain your energy and affect your mood. Make self-care a priority in your life. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and take time to do things that make you happy.
In conclusion, inner peace is not something that you can achieve overnight. It is a journey, a lifestyle change that requires ongoing effort and commitment.
Fatherhood with Ibe
BROTHER’S KEEPER DILEMMA: WADING THROUGH A SEA OF LIES
Of course, I wasn’t going to tell Paul about his wife’s awful indiscretion but I was super convinced that the woman had no respect for him. I drove to the hospital more determined to make him stop and listen. He was lying down in a private room and looked as if he had aged a decade since I last saw him. He had a drip line attached to his arm and a young doctor hovered around him.
He greeted me weakly and waved me into a seat by the bed.
“I was expecting that you would come to the house, not the hospital.” He said.
“I went to your house but your wife directed me here.” I replied drily.
At the mention of his wife, a smile broke through his tired face.
“She can’t stand the hospital environment. I come here every morning and go home late in the night.” He said.
“Are you satisfied with your progress? You look weak.”
“The doctors say that it is just stress but they are satisfied with my progress.” He said.
“That’s good. I hope there is a good management in place in your office for the period that you are recuperating?” I asked.
He explained that he just reshuffled his management team and that his new General Manager came to the house daily to update himself and his wife.
“That’s good. I know you’ll be on your feet soon. How is your daughter doing?” I asked.
“Oh, that one? I had to let her go; she keeps her position in the company as shareholder and director in deference to her late mother but she was overstepping her boundaries; giving counter orders to mine and spending money as it suited her.” Paul appeared quite animated as he talked about his older daughter. His eyes blazed with anger and a frightening fierceness. I digested this information quietly.
“I was asking about the one that is said to be in coma, your younger daughter.”
The energy seemed to seep out of him. He slumped even further into the bed. After a brief pause, he hissed.
“My daughters have been a huge source of disappointment to me. I started looking into Daisy’s transactions in the office and she came with a fight to my house, even beating up my stepson. I tried to overlook that but Francesca who I thought was the most precious person on earth, came into my house because she heard that I was very ill and in the hospital. She came to my house to ransack the whole place and take some vital documents. Unfortunately, she thought my wife would be in the hospital with me but she misjudged. Shirley walked in as she was searching for the documents and they started struggling over the papers. She must have slipped and fallen down the stairs in the course of the struggle. My wife reported the case instantly to the police.”
“Wow,” I muttered when he was through with the tale, noting the wide difference between his story and Ken’s version. “That’s a lot to take in.” I said sympathetically.
“You can say that again.” He agreed, relaxing visibly.
“What’s her actual medical condition now, though? Is she really in coma or is that a story to keep the media away?” I persisted.
“I don’t know anything about her. Let her sister and her husband worry about her. I have washed my hands off those girls….”
“No, Paul. Please don’t say that. No matter what happened, she is your child, your daughter. Let’s do something to help her recover, thereafter; you can discipline her as you choose.”
“Are you asking me to help the same people trying to kill me? They are already running around to share my property while I am still alive? No, I am sorry, I don’t care what happens to her.”
“It’s your daughter’s life that we are talking about here.” I couldn’t believe that Paul had actually believed the lies his wife had told him and was turning his back on his children.
“Look Ibe, I appreciate your concern but I’m getting tired and need to rest.” He pressed the bell and instantly, a nurse came in. I stood up, said goodbye and walked away.
I called Ken and he took me to see Francesca. We tried to find out if there was anything we could do to help her. She was receiving the best medical help available but it was a waiting game. The doctor said that the miscarriage she suffered while in the other clinic had worsened her physiological and emotional condition resulting into the coma. Her parents–in-law and her husband came to check on her. The young man looked totally harassed. I asked him if the police was investigating the matter yet. He shook his head and said that Paul’s lawyer sent out a notice to all media and social media handles to take down that video or face litigation.
“I just want her to get well and leave this place. We were supposed to be relocating to Canada at the end of the month. Her major concern was how she would stay so far away from her Dad. The same Dad that is calling her a document thief and saying she is trying to kill him. I don’t care about any justice, Sir. I just want her to get well and leave all these behind.” I saw tears in the eyes of the young man.
Ken told him to calm down but I felt that part of Fran’s recovery would be to make sure the people who beat her so mercilessly were brought to book.
“Has the police questioned the young man that was said to be involved?” I asked Ken.
“No! That devil Shirley said the video was put together to frame her. She said there was no such boy and all the people in the house said nobody came to the house besides Fran.”
“Liars!” Fran’s husband spat out.
I decided to ask my cousin’s daughter if she knew who the young man in the video was. Of course, she had an idea. She said she had a feeling it was one of the men that followed a certain celebrity around. She gave me his social media handles and I pushed Ken to get on the matter. Three days later, the young man was fished out. With just a little pressure, he sang and his accomplice Shirley was picked up. When the Investigation officer played the confessional video for Paul, I think the scales finally fell off his eyes. If it was hypnotism or blinding infatuation, he made a quick recovery.
But it was too late for Francesca. She died the very day her father realised his error. He had no opportunity to ask his young girl for forgiveness. He called me on the phone weeping.
“I have been a fool.” He said emotionally. Silently, I agreed. “I might as well have killed her with my own hands.” He sobbed. True again, I concurred silently. “Do you know that they found pots of charms in Shirley’s wardrobe? She confessed that she used to take a spoon of liquid from one ugly pot and put in my food or drink. I was supposed to drink it every day until it would gradually kill me. All she wanted was my property, and she told me that my daughters were the ones trying to kill me.”
“And you believed her!” I added mercilessly.
I knew he was crying but I wasn’t impressed, I wished he’d wizened up earlier. He apologised to me and asked me to help broker peace with his first daughter. I was shaking my head even before he finished speaking; I was taking a vacation from the Brother’s Keeper role. I told him to talk with Ken, his brother since he had played the role of father to those girls all the while Paul was ‘enjoying’ his marriage.
I don’t know if Paul will ever get over the guilt about his daughter’s death or ever wipe off the horror of all the things that happened but I know that with dedication, he can fix the relationship with his remaining child and his older brother. As I stood with the weeping family as the funeral service for Francesca was going on, I shuddered at what harm a single wrong decision can cause.