Learning to cultivate inner peace and greater joy is one of the many gifts of practicing mindfulness.
Unfortunately, for most of my life, I was too busy to learn some basic skills to help me thrive and not merely survive.
Busyness and accomplishing many tasks in a day became the priority. My productivity landed me in the doctor’s office with many stress-related symptoms.
My busyness was something I did out of habit because I didn’t know how to be alone with my feelings and myself.
My busyness robbed me of my relationship with the most critical person in my life- myself.
All of this changed when I learned and started to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of each moment in your life. Each thought, feeling, sensation, and experience is accepted for what it is. There’s no battle going on in your head and heart. You are open to it ALL.
Here are five mindfulness tips that will help you cultivate inner peace and joy:
1. Take the best friends’ approach to your feelings.
One of my coaching clients recently said, “I don’t know what I’m feeling most of the time, and I don’t know how to deal with painful emotions, so I find myself binge eating when I’m stressed.”
Most of us have no idea how to feel what we feel, and we don’t want to embrace the uncomfortable feelings of sadness, worry, anxiety, anger, and fear.
But here’s the thing. You can’t just selectively decide that you want to feel good and not bad. To feel joy and happiness, you must also feel sadness and pain. It’s just the way it works.
Begin the practice of making friends with ALL of your feelings. The first step is to become aware and begin to develop a vocabulary for how you feel.
Notice when you are “judging” your feelings as good or bad, right or wrong. Letting go of the need to judge is very powerful. It creates space for the feelings to be present without creating a story or drama around them.
Be curious about how the feeling feels in your body. You’ll find that our feelings and emotions are like clouds, and they move through us if we allow them to be there and don’t try to push them away.
2. Get out of your head and into your heart.
They say that the longest journey you can make is between your head and your heart. I know personally from my experience that you will never connect with your soul through your head.
When we have a battle between our head and our heart, our mind is often victorious.
Whenever you worry and feel anxious, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice getting out of your head and connecting with your heart.
The first step is noticing that you’re feeling anxious and worrying. Take some long, slow, deep breaths, and watch your chest rise and fall over your heart area as you’re doing that.
Spend a couple of minutes focusing on your breath and your heart, and finish by saying something kind or compassionate to yourself as if you’re your best friend.
3. Build your resilience to stress.
The most significant barrier to cultivating inner peace is stress. We often think of stress as all those things external to us, but when we realize that stress is an inside job, we can develop a healthier relationship with it.
When our lives are stressed, and we don’t create opportunities to recharge and connect with ourselves in solitude, we go into survival mode. Survival mode and the connection with inner peace cannot co-exist; in these conditions, survival mode will always take priority.
The quickest way to shift our bodies and minds from the stress response is through our breath. Whenever you notice that you’re feeling stressed, “take five.” Take five long, slow, deep breaths in and out before resuming your day. Realize that you’re just a few breaths away from inner peace.
4. Train your mind to pay attention to the little things.
When you think about how you spend your time, let’s face it, a lot of it doesn’t feel very interesting. We do the laundry, grocery shop, clean the house, and drive around in traffic. Most of us have a mindset that says,” I’ll be happy when I get to do something exciting on my vacation or get that promotion.”
We think that happiness is somewhere else at some other time.
To cultivate inner peace and contentment, we need to choose to experience the wonder and miracle in the little things in life.
Make a commitment that you intend to be more mindful and focus on the little things. When you’re walking, pay attention to walking; when you’re driving, drive; when you’re doing the dishes, do the dishes.
Every time you notice that your mind has drifted away and you bring it back to what you’re doing, you’re becoming more mindful. And it is in the small, simple, repetitive tasks that make up our lives that we connect with inner peace.
5. Practice self-love and compassion at every moment.
Most of the problems in our lives can be traced back to a lack of self-love and compassion. We feel we’re not good enough and that when we have a hard time, we’re often pretty hard on ourselves.
The harsh critic in our mind needs to be acknowledged and then asked to step aside so we can be kinder and more loving with ourselves.
Start each day telling yourself that you love yourself and that you are enough. Become aware of times when your little voice is being hard on you, and practice being kinder to yourself.
I have this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh on my bedside table:
Waking up this morning I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion.
I hope those simple tips make a difference in your life.
Feeling a little stressed before reading this and the breathing is something that is helping me to
Hi Bill, thanks for the note and I’m glad to hear the breathing has helped you feel calmer! Bev
Hi Bev, Your tips are really useful. I can see changes in my life. Early i was short tempered but now i feel very light. thanks for great share.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. I’m glad you found the tips useful!