Updated: Feb 16
We often hear the words 'inner peace' spoken by Buddhists and spiritual leaders. For me, I used to think it sounded like a holy grail of spiritual awakening that you could only attain if you shaved your head and committed to a life of celibacy and 8 hours of meditation each day.
Fast forward a few years and I can now say that it definitely doesn't take being a monk to cultivate a path towards inner peace!
Everyone's sense of inner peace is different, but the only way I can articulate my own meaning into words, is to say that it's a feeling I get when even when I'm surrounded by chaos, to-do lists, stressful situations, challenges, negativity, and everything else that life can throw at us…I can remain calm, still and content, and ‘at home’ within myself. It is the feeling of utter joy I can experience at the smallest, most inane occurrences (like saving a spider from a puddle of water, or watching my dog go crazy in a muddy quagmire!). It is knowing that the material 'things' I have around me, my finances, or my weary face from a week-long illness, have no bearing on my happiness and feeling of acceptance for myself.
I feel that my true happiness and peace comes from within me; it is something I can always carry with me, irrespective of where I am, what I'm doing, and who I'm with. It cannot be solely obtained through relationships, material possessions, financial wealth, a job, or place of residence (although these things certainly can enhance your quality of life).
Inner peace is something you have to cultivate and practise over time; the more you engage in activities that promote self-awareness, reflection, love, compassion, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness, the closer you will be to feeling that deep sense of inner contentment.
“He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe.” – Marcus Aurelius
True inner peace can be called upon to help us cope with adverse situations and conflict, and bring us back to a natural state of calmness, tranquillity and happiness. It is the best tool we have at our disposal to stay in a positive mindset and to help us along this sometimes rocky road of life.
Inner peace can be cultivated by regularly practising activities that fall into the forms described below, when we take ourselves somewhere that invokes those feelings of calm and contentment...
Meditating (including using mantras, affirmations, breath work, visualisations, body scans etc.)
Pranayama (breathing exercises)
Contemplation (e.g. journalling, studying, observing yourself)
This is where self care and inner peace are intrinsically linked. Cultivation of inner peace involves practices that also, by their very nature, comprise taking care of your self. Self care is not to be confused with selfishness. In fact, the two are polar opposites. Showing compassion and kindness to yourself, and forgiving, accepting and loving yourself for who you are, has the power to promote healing and inner peace from within, and you will naturally share these positive qualities with others.
Cultivation of inner peace involves practices that also, by their very nature, comprise taking care of your self
Here are some ideas for practising the various forms that contribute to our sense of inner peace:
Spending some time out in nature, taking in the wonder and beauty of the natural world – being near to water, or watching the sun set or rise.
Taking a relaxing bath
A daily meditation practice
A Yoga class
Tai Chi or Qigong class
Painting, drawing, colouring or creative writing
Mindful eating, walking, or meditation
Holistic therapies, such as massage or reflexology
Inner peace certainly isn't a cure for all of life's problems, and to me - like happiness - it is more of a journey than a destination, but by taking small steps each day to nurture your mind, body, spirit - your self - you are helping to create that safe, cosy, non-judgemental, accepting, loving, kind, compassionate, perfect little home that is...within YOU.
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