Are you content and at inner peace?
Or are you insecure and filled with worry?
Imagine your life with more inner peace. Imagine it as fully as you can. Would you feel better about yourself and your life? Your answer may be a resounding yes, but it's not always clear how to obtain this inner peace. How do we gain inner peace when things are seemingly not going our way? Many famous saints, sages, prophets and philosophers like Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, the Dalai Lama and countless others have all called us to the experience of peace within our selves. Yet few of us have found the treasure they all point to.
DEFINING INNER PEACE
It might help to understand what inner peace is and isn't. Inner peace is not a state obtained where finally everything about our self, our life, and our world is perfect. Inner peace is not found at the end of a goal. Instead, it is an internal sense of calm in which we receive all life's experiences. It is the ability to handle situations and conflicts, in life and in ourselves, with acceptance, empathy, and creativity. Inner peace can also be defined as having a calmness and general freedom from anxiety. Inner peace is about connection: to self, to nature (earth), to a higher self, and to others. And in my experience, those connections occur in that order.
If you do not experience inner peace with any aspect of your current life - whether it be with your body, occupation, partner, home, etc. - you will not have inner peace by merely losing weight, changing your job or partner, or moving. Inner peace doesn't come from the outside. If you aren't peaceful with your life situation now, moving may be, at best, a temporary band-aid. There's an old adage which applies here: "Wherever you go, there you are."
If you don't love your body now, you won't love it later. If you don't experience joy now, you won't find it magically waiting for you at the end of your goal. Inner peace isn't given to you because you've worked hard enough, attained your goal, achieved the perfect body, or been a "good" little boy or girl. Inner peace is something you decide that you are worthy of. Not something you must earn. Rather a decision you make because you decide your are deserving. Or you decide you are not deserving, but you will have this inner peace anyway. Doesn't matter which, just as long as you make the decision. So achieving inner peace has to do with re-discovering the greater truth of who we are. And like it or not, working through emotions and problems is the only path to meaning, fulfillment and spiritual growth.
WHAT IS THE PATH?
There is no one path to inner peace. Despite promises, no one can give you inner peace. The path does not lie outside of you or with another person. Inner peace is a state that we can all experience - if we are willing to be with ourselves and give up our self-hatred. Inner peace is gained when we decide that who we are is worthy of being empowered and expressed on earth. Each of us will find inner peace in our own way. It may be achieved as a gift from a higher being, or a strength within ourselves, or through the loving guidance of another who wishes to share a higher state of being. What you search for is inside of you and the journey must be into yourself. And each of us will find our own ways to return to this state of calmness, perfection and strength.
A starting point is to make a decision to allow yourself a quiet place to escape to. It doesn't have to be a big space. Just some place that is yours alone. Next, set aside some time to go to that place each day. Even if it's only for a few minutes. Bring your spiritual, personal, and creative energy into the space by adding flowers, rocks, candles, incense, images of your favorite deities, or pictures of loved ones. Personalize it with anything that symbolizes love and peace.
What to do while you are in your sacred space? There is no right or wrong thing to do here. The simple act of creating your own space and allowing time for yourself will create miracles. You may choose to sit quietly with yourself. Accepting relaxation may be the beginnings of self-worth. Listening to your inner thoughts may be the beginnings of self-esteem. Take a few minutes to stop the business of the day. Quiet the chatter of the mind long enough to hear the whispers of the soul. Some people may find the road to inner peace through prayer. You might play around with the letting go of all of your thoughts. Let go of your hopes and desires. Let go of your fears and your perceptions of failure. Let go of everything except the sense of being love and being connected to love. You may wish to connect with Self and Universe, and recognize what is truly important to the individual Self. For others, meditation may hold the key, while still others may find the bridge to inner peace through the process of journaling.
Peace is obtained little by little. Gradually, it becomes a subtle undercurrent that runs through each moment of your life. I do not know who has originally said the following words, but they seem appropriate to end this column:
"Fear knocked at the door.
SIGNS OF A GROWING INNER PEACE
Some signs and symptoms of growing Inner Peace:
Choosing to think thoughts that bring inner peace (rather than worry).
Deciding (regularly) to fill the physical body with relaxation and love and fun... (no matter what the perceived problem or weight or limitation).
Reading and thinking inspiring and empowering thoughts.
Filling life with silence, beautiful music, flowers.
Trusting our own inner self more than anything or anyone outside ourselves.
Choosing to open to creative empowered solutions... instead of black and white, right or wrong.
Taking back one's own power... recognizing that the source of happiness lies inside... and the cause of one's problems is inside (not outside).
Recognizing that love is created within... not something given or taken away by others.
Loving is a state of being.
Remembering & feeling gratitude in all things and situations.
Deciding to relax and enjoy the moment... even those that are scary, anxious, nervous, etc.
Connecting regularly to self, nature, "God", and others.
Allowing things to happen rather than to control and make them happen.
Not as easily pulled into the dramas of those around you, nor taken into their emotional upheavals.
Balance in the enjoyment of life and the creative activity of life.
Copyright 2005, Dr. Annette Colby, all rights reserved.
Dr. Annette Colby, RD
"Opening Creative Portals to Success"
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