Being at peace for a lot of people means being at the beach; the waves rolling in and out, the sun soaking them in warmth. For others, it’s the mountains, a certain city or house. Those places are nice, if you live nearby, or if you can visit them often, but if you only go once or twice a year…what about the rest of the year? How can we cultivate more peace within ourselves, so that no matter where we are, and what is happening around us, we can still feel at peace?
First, I want you to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and think about what the word peace means to you.
Next, imagine what a peaceful morning or evening, a peaceful day would look like for you?
Really imagine this in as much detail as you can; sights, sounds, smells. Where would you be, what you would enjoy doing, who might be there, and who wouldn’t be there with you?
Sit for a moment and imagine that you are in that place, feeling as peaceful and calm as possible.
Now, slowly open your eyes.
That feeling that you just experienced, was you being at peace without having to go anywhere, or do anything except use your imagination. You just took your first step towards creating more peace in your life.
I know when things are swirling around us, when we are pulled in ten different directions, and we have a to-do list that’s a mile long, it’s hard to tap into that feeling. But the more you try to do so every single day, the more easily you can do so when things get super stressful.
That’s not to say you’re never going to feel anger, frustration, sadness, or anything other than calm….you’re human. We all have those emotions from time to time. But, if you have a place of peace within – your happy place – when those situations do arise, you’ll be better equipped to use those emotions to help propel you forward. You can feel them, learn from them, and then move on from them; rather than getting stuck in them.
So how can we cultivate more peace for ourselves on a daily basis?
1) Find a spot in your home – a room, a corner, a seat, or just a little place on a shelf – and place items there that remind you of your happy place.
If you’re favorite place to be is at the beach, and that’s where you feel the most peaceful, put seashells in that spot. Use beachy colors to decorate that space. Maybe even add a sound machine that has the sound of waves crashing. Put up a picture of ocean waves, sea turtles, or sandcastles. Whatever reminds you of that peaceful place.
2) Make it a point to walk by that spot at least 3 times each day, and sit or stand for at least one full minute, and imagine being in that place.
Like you did above, imagine the sounds of the breeze blowing through the palm trees, the smells of the ocean and the coconut sunscreen, feel the warmth of the sun. For one full minute. Set a timer if you need to, or count 30 ocean waves going in and out.
Putting a spot in your home like this, walking by it every day, and stopping for a full minute at least three times a day helps to serve as a visual reminder. Every single day, you choose to have more awareness first of all, because you are being aware of what is around you, versus just walking past it and having it blend into the background. You’re also giving yourself the chance to create this place in your mind, even more vividly each time you imagine it. You are proving to yourself over and over again that you can take a minute and find that peace within yourself.
3) The next thing to do is to learn to carry this peace with you wherever you go. To do that, go back to your visual reminders.
This can be anything really, but it’s best if it’s similar to the things that you have in your peaceful spot at home. For instance, going back to the beach example, keep a seashell on your desk, make the background on your phone a picture of your favorite beach, put a sticker on your car of a sea turtle.
Then, during your day, whenever you see this item or picture, close your eyes for a moment (unless you’re driving or walking of course) and imagine that place.
Think about how many times a day you could practice this if you just put a peaceful image or quote on your phones lock screen or background, without placing these items anywhere else.
How many times a day do you look at your phone? That’s not a judgement, but a fact for most people. Each time you get a text, a Facebook or Instagram notification, or a phone call, each time you check the clock on your phone, you’ll see that image, and you’ll be reminded to take deep breaths and cultivate more peace in your life.
4) The other thing that you can do, to serve as a reminder, is to simply set a timer on your phone to go off at random times throughout the day.
This is an idea that I got from Brendon Burchard.
Set an alarm (a peaceful one, not the blaring sound), or a calendar reminder for at least 3 times throughout your day. When those go off, no matter where you are, take a moment and imagine being in your peaceful place. Take a few deep breaths, down into your belly. Again, if you’re driving or walking, keep those peepers open. =)
5) Do a daily Qigong routine.
I especially try to make time to do the Tossing the Stone exercise and Wrapping the Waist every day. These two are perfect for helping you to release the thoughts of the day and just be for a little while. This is also true of Yoga, taking a walk in nature, Tai Chi, or anything with slower movements.
6) Use essential oils, or other smells to create a sense of peace.
Some people like using essential oils and others don’t. I personally enjoy using them for certain things. Specifically, when I’m feeling stressed out, or nervous about something, I have a couple of go to scents that help me to feel calmer.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to be stressed out, even if there’s nothing to stress out about. If we aren’t sleeping well, we put ourselves in a constant battle between being exhausted and trying to perk up. This up down, up down, does nothing to help us feel more peaceful, and it does nothing for our health in general.
8) Write out any feelings that you’re having, that you just can’t seem to shake.
If you had an argument with a co-worker and you keep replaying it in your head, write out what happened and how you felt. Write out how you’re feeling about it now. This serves to get it out of your head, but it also allows you to go back and read it later, with your observer glasses on, and possibly see any lessons that can be learned from the situation.
Even if you’re overjoyed about something, it can keep you up at night, or distracted during the day. Write that out as well. Maybe you have an exciting new opportunity to consider, and you can’t stop thinking about it. Journal it out. Write what your intuition is telling you about the situation, how you see yourself progressing, and how you feel about things.
9) Name ten things you’re thankful for, in your current circumstances.
The more we are thankful for what we have, the more we have to be thankful for. Doing this practice gives us perspective, but it also helps our bodies to physically release stress. When we’re reflecting on the things we appreciate about our lives, it releases the feel-good hormones in our brains, which in turn calms our bodies down.
10) When things just get too crazy, or stressful all at once, find a healthy way to vent your feelings.
There are times in life, when things just get overwhelming. A lot of stressors fly at us, all at one time, and it’s too much. In times like this, we need healthy ways of releasing some of the pressure.
Not by escaping through alcohol, TV, social media, or things like that, but through feeling those extreme feelings and releasing them. This can be anything from exercise, to crafting, to gardening, to hollowing out an old canoe. (Any fans of The Proposal out there? =))
One of my favorite ways to destress when things get overwhelming is to put my boxing gloves on and go to town on the punching bag.
It’s like releasing a pressure valve. Sometimes, when things build up too quickly, you need to release that pressure just as quickly. Once you have, you can begin to see things with a clearer mind and spirit. Then you can return to doing the above practices.
The biggest reason that I encourage you to do these practices and exercises daily, is because the more we make the conscious effort to be at peace, the easier it is for us to stay in this state more often.
It’s like muscle memory, you practice, practice, practice, and then on the day of the big game, you’re ready. If you do these things on a daily basis, when the craziness of life kicks up, you’re ready. You have the tools that you need to move through the rough waters BEFORE you get to them.