With rampant social media posts flying all around, life lessons are sometimes reduced to quotes nowadays. Have you heard the saying that there is no greater wealth in this world than peace of mind? It is a nugget of wisdom, often glibly repeated but seldom appreciated. But what is meant by peace of mind? Let’s find out.
A state of mind
It is not a tangible thing that can be defined and understood easily. Peace of mind is a feeling or perception of the mental and emotional state where there is respite from worries and tension, fear and anxiety. When the turmoil of stress disappears, the mind is lightened with a pervading sense of freedom and happiness.
All of us crave such a state of mind, consciously or subconsciously. But is it rare? Well, it is yes and no both.
Yes, because, with life becoming fast-paced and the dynamics of contentment changing, at least in materialistic terms, finding peace is difficult. All the time people are constantly agitated, getting tensed about losing something or overexcited about gaining something else.
And no, peace of mind is not rare either. It can be as simple as a good night’s sleep or as satisfying and rewarding as spending time in the company of a loved one. Isn’t it the reason we take a break from work and our daily hustle and bustle to go for a vacation? Re-energising the battery of life is just another way of saying trying to find sanity and peace amidst the demands that living in modern times make of us. And again, some people love reading and get lost in a realm of their own, absorbed in the pages of a good book. Taking the mind off from day-to-day cares is a sure way of de-stressing and gaining a peaceful perspective.
Fight or flight, escape or face?
Sometimes people are not sure of what is the best way to feeling peaceful. Does one fight to attain peace by overcoming trials and tribulations, or take flight when there is too much trouble to face?
Well, peace of mind is not about escaping the worries that life inevitably brings as its consequence. To not participate fully in all that life has to offer, and living a reactionless existence is not the same as having a sense of peace and calm. It would be either a boring life or an act of renunciation to become a recluse. There may be relief but not peace. On the contrary, feeling peaceful amid life can be a satisfying experience. It happens when facing ordeals and stressful situations serenely, whereby one creates a sense of tranquillity of mind and spirit.
Tips for peace
So, are there any actionable tips which can help gain peace of mind in a relentlessly demanding world of today? Well, you can try some of the suggestions we have compiled here, which can serve as helpful guidelines to develop a sense of peace in your life.
Acceptance leads to peace
One of the biggest reasons for lives becoming too complicated and anxiety-ridden is people’s hyperactive desire to always be in control. Accepting things as they are and letting go if you cannot control them is a basic lesson that can help in pursuit of peace.
Compassion is a valuable attribute of acceptance. We all sometimes feel betrayed and let down by someone, but the hurt can only become perpetual if you don’t let go of the bitterness. You can try to forgive and forget, and feel the difference. There is a sense of liberation and lightness of the spirit akin to mental peace.
Constantly planning and striving to live in the future can be very stressful. How about trying to find peace by not being so tense all the time, and relax by living in the present moment?
Some people are always hung up about how things could be different only if this and that were so. They are so busy lamenting what was or fantasising what could have been that they fail to focus on what is and lack the vision of seeing the promise of what can be. This is true not only about life situations but also about the self. Moreover, there is also a desire to change others around us. In the process, the peace that should be ours to enjoy eludes us. Trying to appreciate life as it is, loving yourself as you are and accepting others as they are can go a long way in getting peace of mind.
Another thing that we often do is end up being judgmental of things and other people. It is human nature to have in our mind a sense of what ought to be, and when it doesn’t match with reality and falls short, we cannot help criticising. Empathy can help us avoid such moments and lead to peaceful acceptance.
Communication is key
A huge void that modern lifestyle forces on us is the lack of time to connect and communicate with one another. If we can do this, it can indeed go a long way to unclutter and unburden our mind, making way for peace to permeate it.
Letting go of things is never easy. You can try writing things down that are heavily weighing down on your mind and then burn the piece of paper on which you wrote it. It may sound ridiculous, but many people find that this symbolic letting go of things opens up the heart for peace.
Having a conversation with yourself is also a good idea. A similar impact can be from starting to write a blog or even the old-fashioned way of keeping a diary. Here, the victories and defeats, the good times and bad, the memorable and the difficult moments can be put down safely. It helps in two ways. First, in trying situations, your own stories of past triumphs can motivate you. Second, writing down about a difficult situation can take a little of the sting away with the act of expressing it. This, in turn, makes it easier to face challenges and the result is a sense of tranquillity and peace of mind.
It is good to let go of pent up emotions. Although acceptance accompanied by the feeling of compassion and empathy about others is the first step, it is incomplete in itself without communicating it properly. So, for example, if someone is affecting you negatively, how about telling it to that person? It clears the mind, brings peace and may also lead to resolution of the issue.
Asking for forgiveness if you have hurt someone or forgiving others who have hurt you is an excellent tip for pacifying a troubled mind. It is easier said than done, but practising this step can bring serenity to a heavy heart and soul.
Modern life has complicated our relationships as much as it has fashioned ease and comfort in various aspects of life. Do you know what are the two best tips of enjoying peace of mind in such a complex world? The answer may seem surprisingly obvious. Speaking the truth and saying sorry at the right time to the right person when you make a mistake can lighten the spirit and help foster a sense of peace.
Staying active and being creative
Experts say that inactivity can cause depression and anxiety as it dulls the mind from feeling peaceful. Staying active, even contributing through volunteer work, lets the brain stay engaged with something productive and bring joy and peace.
Instead of lounging in front of the TV or staring at a mobile or computer screen all the time, it is a good idea to stretch your body, do a light workout or go out for a stroll. The instant feeling of relaxation as the body finds some activity to do is a great experience.
Joining a yoga class can teach you the basics of breathing exercises which becomes very helpful to calm the mind when it is restless.
How about doing something for others selflessly like helping a charity, joining a social cause or volunteering at an old age home or orphanage, or at least a local animal shelter? Many people find that the mental satisfaction derived from such activities lead to a greater sense of peace and happiness.
Nothing beats idleness like a dose of creative work. Have you ever thought of pursuing a hobby like art class or photography or gardening? It is a mistake to think that engaging in such absorbing activities can put time pressure and increase stress. The things that we do out of love is an excellent way to create peace of mind. There is no undue pressure of expectations or urge of winning something, as we enjoy the activity, and accomplishing it, in turn, relaxes us.
Meditation begets peacefulness
People from the earlier generation used to advise meditation as an essential way of gaining peace of mind. It was indeed wise counsel on their parts, which we have realised in modern times and started adopting it in our way.
One of the basic things to do, even before we can start trying out the different meditation techniques and practices, is using our times of solitude prudently. When you are alone, it doesn’t mean you need to start meditating as the high and only road of finding peace. Reading a book or sitting in nature, under a tree in the local park, can also do wonders.
If spending time on your own isn’t your cup of tea, there is no need to fret. Solitude is best for meditation as it prepares the mind for the tranquillity to set in, and at the end of a session of meditating, you feel the sense of peace and calm.
People often make the mistake of considering meditation as a complicated act full of rituals and is difficult to understand or follow. There are indeed some forms where complex manoeuvres or association of rituals are involved, but meditation can be so much more than that. Not all styles require elaborate technique and training by experts. There are many Buddhist meditation styles like Zen, Vipassana, mindfulness, Metta, and Hindu form such as mantra, yoga, third eye, chakra, kundalini, tantra etc.
If nothing else, then at least try Pranayama. It is a very simple method of regulating your breath and easy to learn and practise for anyone. It can come handy when feeling very stressful or when there is an onset of a panic attack. The exercise can help one find calm and stillness of mind and spirit leading to the feeling of peace.
It may not be always the right ambience to start a meditation session when you feel the need of one to put the restless mind at ease. In such situations, a common practice that many people find useful is going for a stroll while listening to soft and soothing music.
Finding peace at last
Are you intrigued or overwhelmed by this long list of tips? Do you feel that instead of getting peace of mind, you are now more confused and tensed at what to do? There is no need to panic. You are just swamped by all the information, which you don’t need to follow all at once. It is also a good idea not to try too hard, as relaxation and peace are intangible mental state that can only come through practice and easing into the feeling.
The best suggestion is to try the little things at first, one at a time. Meditation practices, even the simple ones, take time and practice to master and maximise the benefit from them. Learning about acceptance and implementing that in all spheres of life is also not going to happen overnight. How about trying to connect with others or start an activity?
Finding time now and then is not difficult, and often we either waste the spare time we manage to get or end up misusing it. Next time try to get in touch with friends and loved ones, whom you miss but are separated by geographical distance due to circumstances. Or read a good book, do a simple breathing exercise or make a leisurely round of the park. You will find that the difficult moments of stress and anxiety are receding and recurring less often. The mind, when it lightens at last, always lets in a breath of freedom and fills with a sense of peace.