Peace is a word that is in some ways indescribable and in others such a definite. It can be very different for all types of people. Inner peace, outer peace, world peace (not to be solved here).
Outer peace is to a large extent is controlled by other people although how we order our world can certainly enhance it but what I want to explore in this article is more the inner peace, not necessarily religious, but that calmness and control that comes at special times. Often at quiet times in the middle of the night.
When you look the word up in a dictionary you get a definition something like Freedom from disturbance; tranquillity. Mental or emotional calm. Ceasing of hostilities. It is the second of these that is my focus of interest. Calm in the midst of chaos. Many of us will have experienced a time when even though we were surrounded by noise and the hustle and bustle of life we were somehow separate from that. The look is the same as someone plugged into their phone or MP3 player. That slightly spaced outlook that puts you on a different plain.
There is an area of counselling or self-actualization called Mindfulness which is in vogue at the moment but has actually been around for years in various guises. A technique which you can use all day in all you do or in short concentrated bursts to give you a place of release or Peace. Do you like watching flames dance and change colour or the ripples on the sand left by the waves as they ebb to and from. Do you marvel at the patterns thrown by the sunlight glinting through the tracery of trees or the sound of birdsong on a summer’s afternoon? It’s amazing what can transport us to a place of calm but the trick is being able to do this when not surrounded by the grandeur of nature. How to do this on a cold night on the streets or sat with the computer buzzing away in front of us and the work piling up at the side.
Visualizations or mind-walks can be really helpful in transporting us away into memories that create that sense of calm and peace but not all people find visualization easy. When you are not practiced at this sort of thing it is often useful to have an object or objects that will help you focus. A burning candle works well but that is not always practical but the use of something small you can hold tends to expand the places you can do this sort of exercise. So here we go using three small stones, pebbles, beads, or similar. As with any good release exercise breathing is an important part of the process so spend some time with your eyes closed (if you feel safe enough) just listening to your breathing and being aware of the depth of your breathing. If you have children this is an exercise that you can do together which will help everybody cope with life just that little bit better. Once you are familiar with the way your normal breathing is slow it down just a little and get to the point where you can breathe in for a count of 3, hold it for a count of 4 and breath out for a count of 5 for no more than three repeats. Most people do not breathe deeply enough to completely exchange all the air in the lungs so this helps remove extra toxins. This alone may make you feel a lot more relaxed and in a place of peace. Once you are comfortable with getting this far in the exercise you can introduce the stones, beads or whatever. Hold each in your hand separately. With eyes closed feel the weight, size, shape, imagine what it looks like, it doesn’t matter if that is different from the actual thing but what the information given to you by the sense of touch gives you the picture of. Think about the journey that stone or bead has been on to get where it is. Then do a round of 3,4,5 breathing and repeat with the second item and so on through all three. The whole thing will probably take you about 10 mins and will offer you a space away from the stress of life. It is important to note that you will need a short time of stepping back into the real world again so have a tea or coffee just to allow the mind to return fully to the world that you live in every day.
If that all sounds a bit ‘grown up’ then you could try watching people as they walk along the street and make up a short story of how they got there and what happens to them once out of sight. You can make it as fanciful as you want because only you are going to know what you think. How do you think writers find some of their characters if not by watching other people? Whatever you do it is good brain exercise to take yourself away from your everyday setting for a few minutes each day. It helps you keep life and its stresses in proportion and gives you the chance to dream and escape if only for that short time. A few minutes every day when the demands of real life can be put on hold and you can be whatever you want to be, orchestrating your own little bubble and just allowing a time of rest, of quiet, of stillness of PEACE.
I wonder if most people did this sort of exercise once a week how much less stress there would be in the world and every day??? Well, that I leave for you to ponder.