Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it. ~Unknown
Finding inner peace is a process of becoming and building our inner resilience, rather than a final destination.
It involves a commitment to letting some things fall away in order to create space for new ways of being to emerge.
The challenge for many of us is that we don’t know how to create inner peace in our lives and so we put a great deal of energy into trying to manipulate our outer worlds.
Being “stressed out” has become the new normal for many of us.
I know that it certainly was for me for many years until my health was impacted. These health issues became a turning point for me as I started to learn how to pay attention to what was going on inside of me and not just outside of me.
So how do you actually go about finding inner peace?
It’s not something we find, rather it’s what we become when we learn how to regulate our nervous systems and deal with our inner thoughts and emotions in skillful ways.
Just like we build new muscles at the gym, we become more peaceful by building new “inner peace” muscles.
And because we have to actually change some things, the process of becoming more peaceful can feel uncomfortable at times. I think this is what prevents many people from becoming more peaceful.
We need to go through some discomfort in order to cultivate “inner peace.”
Let me give you an example…
I was the type of person who avoided discomfort at all costs. I kept myself crazy busy so that I wouldn’t actually have to face my discomfort. I couldn’t stand to be alone; had to be out socializing or shopping all the time, and would quickly apologize when I had a disagreement with my husband because I just wanted to get rid of the icky feelings and get back to feeling “peaceful.”
The ironic thing was that avoiding discomfort because I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings, resulted in a short-lived feeling of inner peace and long term health, relationship and soul issues.
Because I didn’t know how to feel more peaceful I would get the occasional massage, chakra balancing, reiki healing session or some other treatment aimed at relieving the symptoms.
These measures provided short-term relief but the underlying issues were still the same. So a month later I’d be back dealing with the same issues because I wasn’t getting to the root and nothing really changed.
So to be perfectly honest, becoming more peaceful required a period of time where it didn’t feel very peaceful. Just like building new muscles doesn’t feel comfortable.
It requires that we learn new skills that enable us to create a new way of being in our lives. Practices like meditation and mindfulness help us develop a healthier relationship with our minds, bodies and hearts.
What does it take to become more peaceful? It really boils down to four things.
Let’s take a closer look at what these four things are:
- The first step is learning to regulate our nervous systems so that we’re not in a perpetual state of fight, flight or freeze. As we learn to settle our minds and create space for silence we give our bodies a deep state of rest. It enables us to shift out of survival mode into a restorative and nourishing way of being. Through these practices, we create an environment in our body that promotes health and healing. We are cultivating the ability to be resilient from the inside out. In other words, we don’t wait for external circumstances to be “just so” before we thrive in our lives. (You can download The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation for free to help you get started.)
- As our minds and bodies become settled, we develop the ability to pay attention with love and without judgment to each moment. This enables us to become aware of our surroundings, thoughts, feelings and the subtleties of our bodies in order to gain insight and make wise choices. We develop increased awareness of our lives as they’re unfolding and we do this in a way that is accepting rather than judgmental of what is arising. This is all about learning to live in the moment with less focus on the past and future. We learn how to be accepting of what is arising in our lives, including those things that feel uncomfortable and in the process, we feel more peaceful. Our actions arise from a place of wisdom and are grounded in the understanding that we are all connected.
- Next, we cultivate life-affirming qualities such as self-compassion, loving-kindness, gratitude, and forgiveness towards our selves and others. As we increase these expansive feelings and emotions we minimize the emotions that are reflective of our small sense of self. Emotions like anger, resentment, guilt, jealousy, and bitterness are replaced with joy, contentment, fulfillment, and gratitude. We build these muscles that enable us to attract more expansive emotions and ways of being. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
- Lastly, we develop a connection with an intelligent life force that flows through us and for which we are a part in order to manifest a life that aligns with our personal and collective highest truths. We tune in to the ways in which this intelligent life force speaks to us and we enter into the flow of intuition, creativity, coincidences and synchronistic events. We use this information to guide our lives and it becomes our inner compass. As we align our outer lives with our inner knowing we begin to thrive in our relationships, vocations, and health.
When we focus our attention and practices in these four areas we bring our bodies, minds and hearts back into alignment and begin to feel calmer, more connected and empowered.
How have you found greater inner peace and contentment in your own life? Leave a comment to inspire others!