Internal peace vs Anxiety & Stress
If someone asked you how your life could be described what would you say? Would you use words such as peaceful, contented, satisfying, relaxing, passionate? Or would you use words such as busy, stressed, chaos, anxiety, non stop, exhausted?
In Western culture we are definitely doers. We don’t put much time into relaxing and learning to be at peace rather we’d prefer to stuff activities into every spare timeslot we have. Even those of us who work 40, 50 & 60 plus hours a week are still stuffing in extra activities after work and on the weekends and even though these activities may be pleasurable, can you enjoy them when you are running on empty?
You can often tell if you suffer too much stress and anxiety by your reactions to noise around you. Can you sit and do something even with a lot of external noise? Children are a great tester for this. Can you be around children and let them be their boisterous loud selves without telling them to quieten down, sit quietly or stop laughing so loud. Do you notice your voice get louder and your body tense as soon as they start?
A goal that I recommend for people is to be able to feel a sense of inner peace and calm no matter what is happening externally. You can’t always control what is happening outside of your own house (and even sometimes in it) and you can’t make other people responsible for your peace either. As life tends to be unpredictable it’s best to learn how to find inner peace regardless of the surroundings and the more peaceful you are the more productive you often end up being as well.
When we get stressed or anxious we stop flowing with life. Sometimes it is ideal to be interrupted in the middle of something even though it seems annoying at the time. Perhaps that interruption will clear your thoughts, recharge you or lead way to a new line of thinking that wasn’t available before. Life is not meant to be based on time slots and routines but more on the in and outflow around us and following where it is moving and where your energy is.
The problem with stress and anxiety is that there’s no off switch. You don’t stop being stressed or anxious as soon as you leave work. Often it continues into the night and then causes problems with sleep or you end up snapping at your partner or family as you feel so tightly wound. We all know those moments when we feel like this and just want something to take the edge off (which is why alcohol is such a huge drug of choice for so many). But are you happy doing that day in and day out? What if this was your life forever would you be happy with that? If the answer is yes that’s great, but if the answer is no then I’d like to offer you an alternative.
Just imagine for a moment that you are feeling completely peaceful and relaxed. What would that feel like if you felt that way? How would your body feel, how would you know you were relaxed, what thoughts (if any) would you have, how would your afternoon be different if you worked from this place? Take 30 seconds to do it now (you are not too busy for 30 seconds).
Notice a difference? It doesn’t take much to start cultivating inner peace but you have to make the time to do it. It doesn’t mean going to class to learn it or reading a book or listening to cds, it just means being present with yourself in the present moment and nothing else. Then noticing what takes you away from that space. The more you notice what takes you away the more you can work on fixing it until you spend more time with inner peace than without. And the great news is you can do it anywhere on the bus, walking home, in the elevator, standing in a lunch queue, cleaning up at home or cooking dinner, driving home. It’s about connection with who you really are and just being.