It is the time of year where we see the word PEACE splashed across holiday cards, spelled out in huge letters on a neighbor’s lawn, or we hear it playing in the background at the supermarket while we shop. And yet, for some of us, peace can feel elusive. I am currently on an interesting medication that impacts my mood. Inner peace is a very real priority for me, especially in this season, as my body adjusts and regulates to this particular cancer treatment. I understand the adage, “We ourselves must walk the path.” It supports me to lean on my mentors to teach me. Let me share some of what I have learned in order to access and experience inner peace.
One of the major reasons I value peace is because it is at the root of many helpful patterns and positive traits. My motto is “lead with positive intent.” This orientation enhances my well-being, which is conducive to clear thinking. When I lack peace, I struggle, and my thinking is muddled. Oftentimes this can lead to anxiety, doubt, and fear, and overall, I am not at my best. Our minds are our constant companions. Wherever we go, there we are. Our heads full of thoughts! I choose to work with my mindset as opposed to “struggling” with confusion and negative thinking all of my days.
Here are a few thoughts around peace that might help you manage your thoughts and find peace more readily in the days ahead.
Peace is a choice: Peace is fostered by the words we speak and the thoughts we dwell on. “Dwell” is the operative word here because some thoughts we think are true and others are false. Without questioning the impact of those thoughts, we can fall into believing that the false thoughts (limiting beliefs) are absolute truth. The natural progression is to unconsciously accept the less-than-beneficial outcomes within our beliefs.
I experienced this recently when I had a nuke/med scan a few months ago. I was told it was a difficult and painful procedure. When I slid into the narrow tube, I closed my eyes and thought about lying beside still waters at one of our favorite camping spots. The next thing I knew, the technician was telling me my scan was done and was helping me out of the scanner. I had slept in a tight, claustrophobic tube for over an hour because I chose to manage the pictures within my mind . The beauty of these kinds of pictures in our heads is that we can revisit them whenever we need to.
Breathwork: When we can control our breathing, we create peace and tranquility within our body. Inversely, have you ever noticed that when we get anxious or afraid, we tend to hold our breath? Or our breathing becomes very shallow, which signals our bodies to pay attention and be on alert. There are great videos online to teach you a variety of breathing techniques. One of my late-night breath prayers/mantras is: “With each breath (on the inhale), I am getting calmer and sleepier” (on the exhale). Note: My inhalation is half as long as my exhalation.
Visualization: While I lay in bed, I reflect on my day and think of 3 wins. I relive those details in my mind, and this increases my well-being at the end of the day. Then, I think about what is on my calendar for tomorrow. I spend several minutes visualizing how I want to show up and how I can “be” in order to remain present and available to the people I will connect with. I create win-win solutions in my mind’s eye so I can recognize that intention in the future. It clears my head to focus on what I intend and how I want to show up. Present, able to listen, not “dreading” that interaction or projecting a win-lose dynamic.
I have mentioned this many times, yet I believe this quote is true and applies to peace.
Thomas Edison reminds us, “Never go to bed without giving your subconscious an assignment.” Before I go to sleep, I create an assignment that is solution-oriented, something that fosters peace and is beneficial.
Create movement: A consistently great way to clear my head, re-orient myself, and create a sense of calm is to create a “state change”. I change my environment! For me, this means getting outside, going for a walk, getting into nature, doing yard work and literally changing my environment. This gets my mind off of what is robbing my peace. That respite can make a big difference in my state of mind and enable me to become calmer.
I love this poem by Wendell Berry, it encompasses what I have mentioned. It is a great reminder for us to pursue peace.
“The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with fore-thought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~ Wendell Berry
My hope is that you will pursue peace as part of your daily practice. Great change happens one day at a time; this incremental growth can make a huge difference. How amazing it will be to look back next December and notice how far you have come! Growth is an inside job; inner peace is the best place to start. It will keep you on track and true to you, your dreams, aspirations and purpose, as well as becoming a wonderful model and change-maker!
May you have a WONDERFUL month, may you enjoy the holidays thoroughly, and you find rest and peace as 2023 winds down.