According to the ubiquitous wikipedia ‘Inner peace refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy and the opposite of being stressed or anxious. Peace of mind is generally associated with, happiness and contentment‘. Many spiritual practitioners and mental health professionals would agree, however, do we know how this desirable, mystical state arises, or where it come from? Why does it disappear so easily, and when it does how do we find it again?
Many great teachers of time honoured spiritual traditions have spent their whole lives mastering the stable state of consciousness required to maintain equanimity under any circumstances. There are numerous proven techniques which can bring the dedicated practitioner to this attainment, and whole cultures dedicated to ensuring continuity of practice and access to the state of inner peace. Most of us live outside of such conducive circumstances, the world in which we find ourselves is often confusing or distressing, we are pressured by circumstances, by social expectations, by responsibilities and by the choices we make. Because we perceive a limited range of choices, we can become stressed, anxious, and exhausted. Often we attempt to find a bit of peace for ourselves in mind numbing activities or substances. Remaining functional appears to be the best we can hope for, true happiness and inner peace seem like a fantasy in today’s fast paced world.
What can we do to help ourselves access the state known as inner peace?
Empowering ourselves by taking charge of our immediate physical environment is a key measure for supporting a peaceful state of mind. Just making sure that things are tidy, clean and in order will help us feel more grounded and secure, more comfortable and relaxed as we prepare to approach our inner world in search of peace. We are much more relaxed when our mind is not distracted by a pile of laundry, or dishes in the sink that need washing. The mind can be slippery, and loves an excuse to worry about things instead of relaxing.
Listening to ambient, chilled out, soulful, beautiful music helps restore some peace to our minds. We can help ourselves a great deal by making sure we have something soothing to listen to in the car, or through our ear-buds while in public transit situations. Often we fail to realise just how stressful it is to hear about the problems of the world in news bulletins, even listening to the trivial banalities of commercial media is enough to agitate the mind. When we are exposed to a sound-scape full of distracting, jarring, competing noises which jump from one thing to another every few seconds or minutes, we are conditioning our minds to become hyperactive and unsettled. Selective listening is a priority when seeking inner peace.
The time honoured practice of meditation has a special place in the lives of those who are peaceful, equanimous and happy. Seeking out a situation where you can be supported in learning to meditate is a powerful affirmation to your inner self that you are genuinely interested in experiencing a state of peace. Guided meditations are available as live events or recorded media, and will serve to instil a sense of confidence and relaxation in the beginning meditator. Having a guided meditation track to listen to as a morning and evening daily ritual can help condition the mind for a more peaceful experience of everyday life. More advanced forms of meditation, practised with a spiritual teacher can, over time, bring one into direct contact with the source of inner peace, and is a journey worth taking when we are ready for it.
Writing in a journal is highly recommended for supporting our attainment of inner peace. If we write down those thoughts which keep popping up when we relax in a distraction free environment such as in meditation time, or while listening to ambient music we begin to uncover the things in our minds that are keeping the inner peace at bay. When we commit these thoughts to paper, we release the need to keep subconsciously processing them and they become powerless to disturb our minds. When we have these thoughts in writing, we can work with them, both to understand ourselves and the source of our inner unrest better, and to release, heal and forgive what ever it may be that has been quietly stealing our peace without us even knowing about it. Journalling helps bring to light many valuable insights, which in themselves will contribute to a more peaceful state of mind.
It is highly beneficial to be able to speak with someone who has no emotional attachment to our story. During the early stages of our journey toward inner peace, we may find that we need to talk about the things that arise from the depths of our minds and hearts. This material can be both distressing and confusing to discuss, and those closest to us will often not have the skills to hear us and allow the process of resolution to take place within us. The benefit of seeking a qualified counsellor whilst on the inner journey cannot be underestimated.
Catharsis is a vital aspect in the attainment of lasting personal peace, often we will shed tears, laugh out loud or find ourselves shaken to the core. We need to balance all this hard inner work with an outlet that is fun and freeing. Expressing ourselves in a joyous manner is the most pleasurable form of catharsis there is, and dancing to music we love, with people we like is a healing and a liberating experience like no other.
Inner peace is the pre-requisite for world peace. Each of us can aspire to becoming a beacon of calm positivity through working toward the attainment of inner peace.