In today’s fast-paced world filled with chaos, stress, and too much to do, finding peace can sometimes seem impossible. Have you ever noticed that on days that are packed with obligations, friction with people in your life, and the challenging surprises you are left with feeling cranky, edgy, and powerless? In some cases, it can even make you literally sick. You may wonder if peace is even possible. Taking a “peace break,” carving out time and space for relief from stress, is essential for the health of mind, body, and spirit.
For most of us, peace is more than just the absence of conflict. It’s a place of restorative calm that we can find both within and without. Although there are as many ways to find peace as there are individuals seeking it, the path to peace has two key components: mindfulness – full attention in the present moment – and stillness, a separation from the relentless cacophony of daily demands on our time and attention, and the worried anxious thoughts that scurry constantly through our conscious minds.
Where Do We Start with Finding Peace?
Finding peace begins with letting go of negative thoughts and attachments to circumstances in our lives, so activities that promote mindfulness, movement and a sense of connection with the world around us are powerful ways to create this sense of calm. Create something. Move the body. Spend time in nature. Pay attention. Help others. Find stillness in meditation or prayer.
Creative work is a powerful tool for finding inner peace. Like meditation and movement, creativity promotes mindfulness and offers a retreat from the pressures of our daily lives. Even in times of great trauma and stress, a creative activity such as drawing, painting or making pottery provides a refuge from negative thoughts, fear and anger. Because of its power to create healing and peace, creative work can become a spiritual practice all its own.
How Activities Can Help with Finding Peace
Movement and activity also help to find peace. Walking, biking, dancing – anything that gets the body moving, especially outdoors, can create a sense of peace. Moving the body requires mindfulness, or attention to the present moment, and allows the body to produce endorphins for improved mood and well-being. Like meditation, exercise releases attachment to those stressful thoughts, anxieties and anger caused by too much chaos and too much conflict.
The natural world creates a natural island of peace, a retreat from the noise and bustle of modern life. A walk in the park, a hike, or even a few moments in a sunny backyard away from distractions and noise can encourage a feeling of peace. Listening to birdsong instead of a boss’ angry voice, or watching butterflies rather than traffic, releases tension and promotes calm. And sunlight in moderation also boosts the body’s immune system.
Meditation Offers A Quiet Mind
For many, meditation opens doors to finding peace. A regular meditation practice – even as little as 20 minutes a day – calms stress, increases alertness and supports the immune system. In meditation, we take a break from the relentless press of our thoughts and anxieties, observing them without evaluation or attachment. The mind can take a break from the busy thoughts that create stress. The emptiness that remains, beyond the wall of those anxiety-producing thoughts, creates a healing sense of peace and stillness.
Being part of something larger than yourself can also promote feelings of peace, ease loneliness and promote well-being. People who volunteer to help others on a regular basis, or who give time and attention to a movement or cause to benefit the world or its inhabitants tend to feel less stressed and have a greater sense of peacefulness and self-esteem.
Being a part of a faith community can have similar effects. Belief in an ordered universe and a higher power full of love reduces stress and provides a refuge from the crises of everyday life. Prayer, like meditation, provides a respite from stress and a way to release negative thoughts. The comfort of community and caring people also promotes a feeling of peace and connectedness.
Staying focused in the present, releasing negative thoughts and making connections to the world around us are powerful tools for creating the quiet, both internal and external, that helps us find peace. Engaging wholeheartedly in creative work, moving in nature, helping the world and others can provide just the peace break your mind and body are waiting for.
You will find more on this subject in my free article on “Inner Peace“.
My “In Search of Peace” program has guided meditations to help you attain inner peace.