Sometimes it can feel as though inner peace is a gift of bliss reserved for the lucky ones that don't have the same load of burdens we have. The fact is we all have our own unique stressors and challenges. It's highly probable that the unattainable peace we're yearning for has more to do with what we're envisioning.
Inner peace isn't walking around in a state of nirvana or a place we arrive at and we're blissed out for the rest of eternity. And while inner peace can be described as a quiet stillness, it is also as much of an active state of mental clarity and inner ease or balance. Inner peace is something we work at moment to moment and day to day.
Here are eight life hacks for increasing the moments of inner peace you experience. As you implement them, remember it's not about perfection. The very idea of being perfect causes stress, and it is not a realistic goal. Instead take small steps, practice increasing the experience of inner peace and ease moment by moment. If a stressful moment arises, just go for more balance and peace in the next moment.
1. Avoid the morning mind ambush
Too often we open our eyes and BAM -- the mind goes on a tear reviewing everything for the day. Instead of allowing this, make it a practice of doing a "morning prep" exercise. Take 3-5 minutes to set your inner tone for the day. Before you engage the mind with your to-do lists and deadlines, care for yourself. While waking up or in the shower, resist the urge to review your day and instead breathe in an attitude of appreciation and inner balance. Everything else can wait just a few more moments. You owe it to yourself!
2. When life speeds up, slow down
When life speeds up, slow down. Sounds contradictory, but it's not. Pausing to go to a deeper inner ease can offset the outer chaos. It also connects you with your practical intuition to help you navigate through the external noise and stimulation. Get familiar with your inner speed of balance, learn to operate from that pace, and remember to breathe an attitude of ease. Just because things around you are moving quickly doesn't mean you have to get frantic.
3. The real priority often missing from your list...
The long list of to-dos is often missing a significant priority -- YOU. Remember to schedule time for yourself to pause, quiet the mind, feel, and connect with your deeper self. Use meditation, breathing techniques, soothing music, journaling or high tech apps for calming one's self. Make a 10-15 minute window for "me time" or go try going to bed 10 minutes earlier and use that time to decompress and connect with yourself. It's that important.
4. Ease up -- be kinder to yourself
Is that noise in your head encouraging or is it self-demeaning? If you hear that inner chatter being hard on yourself, stop the dialogue and replace it with a positive. Negative self-talk is doing nothing but reinforcing insecurities. Consider making a list of 5-10 things you appreciate about yourself. Review it daily and start using these qualities to replace those negative mind loops.
5. Afternoon slump -- let the mind rest
When you start feeling the afternoon drag, get still inside. Take a break and sit quiet -- connect with your inner balance. Pretend as though your breath is going through the area around your heart. Breathe in attitude of ease and an energetic calm. Breathe out any feelings of overwhelm or tension. Allow yourself a few moments to let your mind rest. Just a few moments of quiet can help reset your energy level.
6. Replace annoyances with compassion
Frustrating scenarios can trigger irritation -- the person on their cell phone in the restaurant; that guy that cuts you off in traffic; the waitress who's less than friendly. When someone annoys you try to genuinely practice patience and compassion. Remember, you don't know what struggles they might have. Choosing patience and compassion honors your own heart values and reinforces your best self.
7. True gratitude can make the grumbling vanish
Whether you vocalize it or not, you can tell when your inner tone is one of grumbling and complaining. If you hear that inner tone you know it's time to recharge your gratitude. The daily practice of appreciating the little things in life can build your mental and emotional resilience and reduce stress. People who intentionally practice appreciating "what is" are generally happier.
8. Goodbye moodiness, hello kindness
When you're feeling moody try adding more care and kindness into what you're doing or intentionally do something nice for someone else. Shifting the focus towards caring for others feels good and can lift your mood. The very act of care and kindness is like giving small gifts of your heart to the world. Be generous with it!
Increasing our inner peace includes both moments of quiet stillness and moments of creating an active peace. Active peace can be increasing our inner clarity, having a feeling of inner calm, and a deeper sense of personal balance -- it is the inner state of ease.
To build on the understanding of inner peace and the state of ease, download (free) the State of Ease e-book, written by HeartMath founder and stress expert, Doc Childre.