Modern life: brilliantly overrun with to-do lists, targets and noise. There’s so much to do and to achieve that it can be enormously hard to find even a minute to sit still and regain a sense of peace.
To achieve peace of mind we must first learn how to be still and do nothing. We need to become comfortable with going nowhere. Going nowhere gives us a chance to catch up with ourselves. In his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer says that going nowhere is “about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”
We view peace as a destination, as a goal, but by defining it as a goal and something to work toward, you can never reach it. You’ll forever be chasing the butterfly rather than admiring it for what it is. They key with achieving and maintaining peace of mind is to not treat it as something to achieve. It sounds contradictory, but once you’ve decided you’re going to achieve it, it will elude you because you’ve turned that into another pressure in your life.
Peace is always available and surrounds us every day, we just have to allow it into our lives.
Part of achieving peace is letting go of what doesn’t serve us and recognise what stresses us out and say ‘no’ to it.
It’s ok if you find yourself getting caught up in the worries and stresses of life while finding peace. This is a natural occurrence and we have to remember that this is part of the journey and a part of life. I have my moments where I allow life to overwhelm me and I feel out of control, then I remember to do something that cultivates a calmness and a peace within me and I feel more able to face my problems.
How you can achieve peace of mind
- Sit and be still – allow your thoughts to float to the surface and then observe them. Don’t push them away and don’t engage them. Let them surface, let them be thoughts and let them go.
- Mantra mediation – one mantra I’ve found useful for me is Om Namah Shivaya. To be honest I was surprised that it worked because I’ve never found a mantra that works for me. Sometimes I have difficulty in keeping my mind still, but this mantra enables me to focus on that. Thoughts still arise, but it’s easier for me to take the focus away from them. If this mantra doesn’t work for you there are many others out there that will.
- Walking meditation – go for a walk simply to walk. Have no destination in mind and let your feet guide you. Allow yourself to full engage with the movement of your body. Place your attention on your feet and how they feel on the ground. Where do you hold your balance? Are you heavy footed or light footed? How does the ground feel? How do your feet feel in relation to the rest of your body?
- Mindful meditation – concentrating on your breath allows your mind to relax and focus on one thing. Simple observe how your breath feels going in and out of your body. It may be helpful to say ‘in’ and ‘out’ with the flow of each breath cycle.
- Journaling – write down any thoughts, emotions, ideas or quotes that come to you. Dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to doing this. I find that having an outlet and somewhere to store what’s in my head creates space. Remember: your head doesn’t always have to be full.
- Paint and draw – you don’t have to be a Picasso to enjoy painting or drawing. It’s a way to express yourself. Get messy. Get creative. Get in the moment and let your hands do all the work.
- Make things! – maybe it’s making cards, jewellery, beauty products, knitting clothes, creating collages, making photo albums – whatever it is, do it!
- Sit and do nothing – as one Japanese proverb says “Don’t just sit there. Do nothing.” So give yourselves permission to sit there and do absolutely nothing.
- Be alone – whether it’s for half an hour or a retreat, spending time alone with yourself is highly beneficial and gives you the time and space to find peace and lay to rest whatever may be holding you back.
- Slow down – don’t rush. Life will still get done no matter what speed you’re moving at. Walk a little bit slower and use that time to see the flowers amongst the weeds. It’ll surprise you how much you’re missing by rushing through life.
Connection and Communication
- Volunteer – give some of your time to others. Time is more valuable and appreciated than money. Giving to others will make you feel good and give you a different perspective on life. It doesn’t have to be people – it could be animals.
- Go to a class – it could be yoga, martial arts, real-life drawing, pottery, creative writing, maths, night school, belly dancing, hairdressing – whatever takes your fancy. The point is to do something for yourself, and in the process you’re learning new skills, and making new friends.
- Arrange a night in/out with friends – let your hair down, paint the town red! The point here is to enjoy yourself. Empty your mind for a few hours while you and your friends enjoy each other’s company.
- Write a letter to your friends and family letting them know how much they mean to you. Write a letter to yourself letting you know how much you mean to you. Connecting with yourself and making yourself feel good is just as important as doing it for other people.
- Be honest – especially with yourself. Honesty doesn’t mean being critical or horrible, it means having the grace to know what it is you deserve and what other people deserve.
- Help others where you can – aid someone crossing the road, do a favour for a friend, pay it forward at a café, actively listen to someone, pay someone a compliment. Whatever it may be, that little gesture could make someone’s day in a big way.
- Turn your phone off at night – or at least put it on airplane mode. You’ll be able to have a night of uninterrupted sleep which will work wonders for your brain.
- Spend the weekend away from technology. Leave it all at home and go for a walk, go camping, go for a coffee. It’s not going to be easy at first, but I promise it will get easier and you’ll feel so refreshed.
- Have a no TV rule at dinner – encourage communication within your family and with your partner. It’s far easier to talk to each other than to assume that everything’s ok.
- Go for a walk/run – release the endorphins!
- Dance like no-one’s watching! – let all your energy out. Express what’s in your head in the form of dance!
- Go to the gym or go to a class – however you prefer to work out – go and do it. I always find it surprising how blank my mind is and how peaceful I feel after a good workout session.
- Write a gratitude list every morning or evening. It could be five things it could be twenty things. It’s up to you.
- Appreciate the beauty of a situation or a person. Are they trying to give you the opportunity to learn something new about yourself? Or perhaps it’s an opportunity to overcome an outdated way of thinking.
- Express compassion and understanding. Even to rude people. Especially to rude people. You never know what someone else is going through and your smile and nice behaviour may be just they need.
Whatever it is that makes you feel peaceful go ahead and do it. For me I love reading. Reading gives me the same feeling as meditating for half an hour does. So, go ahead and achieve your peace of mind. You deserve it.
Be happy. Be you.