5 Practices for Peace and Serenity
The Dalai Lama said, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” If your world feels less than Zen, it might be time to find peace. But peace can seem hard to find when you stand in the midst of chaos in the shape of a blossoming career, motherhood, home life, and a committed relationship. Peace and serenity are attainable, but peace is not so much a “thing” as it is a practice. Five simple steps can help you to practice peace daily. When you find it for yourself, you also will begin to project it into the world around you.
Live for this Moment
Have you ever read an article (like this one), attended a school event, enjoy lunch with a colleague, or even run to the market while thoughts of “I should really be doing_________” try to take over your brain’s bandwidth?
There’s no need to raise your hand. You know who you are. Successful women excel at getting the most out of every second of each day. They plan their days well in advance and squeeze as much as possible into each moment. When the day is done, they often ruminate over the successes or failures in an effort to ensure future successes, and sometimes they berate themselves at the same time.
All this planning of the future and picking apart the past will keep every successful woman from doing one important thing—living in the present, living in this moment. The past is unchangeable, so worrying over it creates unnecessary discord. The future can change in the blink of an eye. Most women desire less stress and more peace. Peace is found in the present, the now. When you strip away the past and the future and live in the moment, you find a certain, relaxed place where it is okay to “be.” Miraculously, what often follows is greater joy as well. Suddenly, you enjoy your daughter’s concert more because you are not stressing over the presentation you have to do tomorrow while you are listening to Chopin today.
If you do not normally meditate, today might be the perfect day to begin. Get comfortable. It sitting in the comfy chair in the corner of your office with your shoes off feels great, try sitting there. If you prefer to change into yoga pants and sit on a mat in lotus position, so be it. Breathe deeply in and out, counting your inhales and exhales; try to get to 100 breaths. Why count 100 breaths? Going back to the idea of living in the moment, when you are counting and breathing, there is not space to think or do other things. You become the moment. If you find sitting quietly with yourself to be more of a challenge than a peace-imparting venture, try a guided meditation that you can find on YouTube.
Express Your Creativity
Have you ever watched a child’s face when he or she is coloring? Do they look stressed? Not usually. A quiet, creative moment or two might be just what you need to find some peace in your crazy day. Buy a box of watercolor paints and grab a few sheets of white paper from the printer on your desk. Paint a watercolor of your favorite flower, or a sunset or the dog you had as a child. Keep a canister of Play-Doh on your desk to squish, sniff, and shape into random objects when your feel the stress of daily life creeping in. Sing a favorite song in the car on the way to your next appointment and use your cellphone as your microphone. Imagine yourself on stage just as you did when you were a teenager and sang to the “audience” in your mirror. Ignore the stares of passing motorists; they aren’t your concern. Release whatever is bothering or stressing you through your creativity. Sometimes all that is required to attain peace is an outlet for all the stressors that would keep peace from settling upon us.
Be your own best friend for an hour, or for the afternoon. Professional women juggling busy lives often make themselves the afterthought. Peace will always be difficult to find it you do not create space for it to take shape. Treat yourself to a movie. Read a good book for the simple pleasure of becoming lost in, or reacquainted with, old friends. Take a long walk alone and enjoy the quiet solitude.
Care, Connect, Contribute
Caring for, helping and connecting with others will bring peace to your life. When we focus too much on our needs, our goals, and ourselves, we quickly lose perspective. This egocentric approach allows us to spend too much time and energy on our own problems. Volunteering in an area about which you are passionate, teaching Sunday school or serving at a soup kitchen, for example, is a great way to take the focus off you directly while encouraging a renewed thankfulness for your life and its opportunities. Wonderful peace comes from doing something simply because it will make another person happen, even something as simple as a smile and a greeting, “Hello.”
One bonus practice to attain the inner peace that might be sorely lacking as hectic holiday time approaches is visualization. When stranded in an environment where it might not be socially acceptable to whip out your crayons and coloring book, no one will know if you visualize. Take yourself on a trip to the beach, to your grandpa’s old farm, or to the mountains for a mental hike. Close your eyes for a moment and find yourself in that happy place where carefree, peaceful days of summer drown out the cacophany of cars, co-workers, and copiers. Sigh.21
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