This year has taught us many things, and when I think about how it has changed my life and that of my family, it can feel a little overwhelming. Not all the changes have been bad though. I even got started with some of them before the pandemic came around.
I didn’t realize it at the start of the year, but here we are in November and it just dawned on me that I began the year searching for inner peace. And I have made progress in finding it.
Have you felt yourself searching for inner peace during this chaotic time? Or maybe you have been asking, “what does inner peace even mean?”
“Don’t let external chaos destroy your inner peace of mind.” ― Debasish Mridha
What is inner peace?
According to Barua (2014), “Inner peace refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of stress.”
It seems like most people have this idea that once you have found inner peace, life is boring and dull. As if inner peace turns you into some lifeless puppet with no passion or drive.
The opposite is true; being mentally and spiritually at peace creates clarity that allows you to focus on your passion in life. Knowing enough about yourself to define your desires is the first step. Imagine Tom Ellis’ Lucifer asking you what your greatest desire is and answering without thinking.
Inner peace doesn’t mean that life’s stressors disappear; it means that when something happens, you can handle it without overthinking or questioning everything based on your past experiences.
Being at peace doesn’t mean that nothing bad happens to you, or you are always happy. It means that you have learned to handle challenges in a way that doesn’t upset your balance.
“Learning to distance yourself from all the negativity is one of the greatest lessons to achieve inner peace.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Therapy can help you find inner peace
Therapy was one of the things I started doing before this year on my quest for inner peace. I had a traumatic childhood and carried a lot of that baggage around, even though I was in denial. I downplayed my childhood events because I had turned out ‘alright.’
I had a post-graduate education, a happy family life, no problems with the law, and I don’t drink or do drugs. I had achieved my goal in life to not end up like my mom and thought that would give me more peace than it did.
After seeing my therapist for a while, I realized that I had spent all this time getting a Master’s degree in a field in which I didn’t want to continue working. I wasn’t happy at my job, even though it was exactly what I thought I should be doing; working full-time, for a decent wage, and getting great benefits.
I told her how I had wanted to major in journalism when I graduated from high school. We spoke about how I had spent all my free time writing fiction and poems. I just started writing again, and she thought I should explore that.
I began publishing stories about my youth on Medium and then found my first client on Upwork. Suddenly, I was making almost the same amount of money writing as I was at work.
Then the pandemic hit, and the company I worked for furloughed me. I invested that two months in honing my craft and getting more clients. When they called me to come back, I realized how much less stress I was under and that I had no desire to return.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
Daily routines give you the space to reflect and find inner peace
One of the first things I had started writing about was my quest to walk around the lake near my house every day for one year. I showed up when it was storming and when there was a foot of snow and temperatures were four below. I thought I was doing this to write the story, but I learned so much more.
Having a daily routine like this built up my self-respect and my self-discipline. I started learning more about myself and getting in touch with my feelings about the past. It also gave me about 30 minutes to connect with nature every day.
Amit Ray, an Indian author, and spiritual master said, “Looking at beauty in the world is the first step at purifying the mind.” There was beauty all around me at the lake.
The premise for my story was how the same place would be different in each season. I took a picture every day about the changes I experienced, whether it was the leaves changing color, the lightning crashing in the sky, or the frozen water.
It took me a little bit of time to realize that my mind was open when I would walk. The noise of all the things that made me feel anxious or stressed faded away, and I would feel the inspiration to write. I didn’t realize at the time that this was crucial to my search for inner peace.
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” —John F. Kennedy
Focus on healthy habits
Walking, or any exercise, in general, will help you on your quest for inner peace. Eating healthy foods not only supplies you with the vitamins and nourishment that your body requires to function, but it also reinforces that your body matters. How you take care of yourself matters. Meditation is also an essential habit to practice in your search for inner peace.
During the first few weeks of our shelter in place order, my twelve-year-old son and I did yoga on the TV as soon as we woke up. I realized that everything I was worried about during the first uncertain months of the pandemic was what mattered. I understood that our stress levels were high, and the children were anxious, so we did daily yoga.
We also spent every night for two months all curled on the couch watching a movie. I cooked healthy food, as most places were closed and we couldn’t go out to eat. For the first time in a long time, I felt that the other things we focused on were insignificant. Those two months were stressful, but I learned so much about concentrating and protecting my energy.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
The search for inner peace is a lifelong journey
2020 showed me what mattered and what didn’t. It reminded me that people are resilient, and with the proper support and tools, we can survive almost anything.
It also inspired me to find a way to make peace with my past and search for inner peace. The kind of peace that makes the rest of your life better. The type of peace that enables you to make wise decisions instead of just reacting to stress.
This year showed us how quickly stressful things could happen, even when we think we have our lives under control. Control is an illusion that I used to believe gave me peace.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this tumultuous year is that the search for inner peace is necessary. It is ongoing and provides much more security than the control I used to cling to.
“When we accept and embrace our emotions as the way they are rather than what we wish them to be and discover that in the deepest darkest moments, we are okay – this is the true emotional healing. Emotional healing is when you face your worst fears only to realize you are okay. You have no control over what life throws at you, but you have control of how to relate to whatever comes your way.” ― Susan Wenzel
Have you spent 2020 searching for inner peace? What are some things that helped you in your quest? What did you learn from your journey? Feel free to share any tips and suggestions in the comment section below.