Without Inner Peace, Outer Peace is Impossible
“We all wish for world peace, but world peace will never be achieved unless we first establish peace within our own minds. We can send so-called ‘peacekeeping forces’ into areas of conflict, but peace cannot be oppressed from the outside with guns. Only by creating peace within our own mind and helping others to do the same can we hope to achieve peace in this world.”
– Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Happiness is one of the most misunderstood words in our vocabulary, yet we search for this intangible state our whole lives. If I only had this or that, if I met the right partner, have a big house, a new car, the job I’ve always wanted, then I would be happy. The ancient yoga and spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.
Every time we see a giggling baby or young child we’re reminded that we are all born with this natural and innate sense of happiness, that it is actually our birthright. We learn about suffering or unhappiness as we grow older, more externalized, and as circumstances change.
Here are some of the 7 ways to find your inner peace again:
1) Remember everything is impermanent good and bad times. At times of hardship, such as loss or illness, it’s easy to lose your humour and even easier to get involved with the negative aspects of what is happening. Remember we are forever changing from the tiny cells in your body and the environment surrounding you. Realising impermanence helps you to stop being too serious and brings a lightness and acceptance to the weight of circumstance around you.
2) You are not your suffering, loss, or illness. Calmly accepting a situation will help you overcome the adversities of life. We all suffer, age, get sick and experience loss. When you are going through hard times this when you should meditate longer. Take walks along the walk and be in the moment. Try and push out negatives thoughts, allow yourself time to just be, not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow or what you need to do.
3) We live in an imperfect world. You may think you’re imperfect, a mess, falling apart, hopeless, or unable to cope. But true perfection is really accepting your imperfections. It is accepting yourself, complete with all the things you like as well as the things you don’t like. In this way you’re not struggling with or rejecting yourself. Each one of is unique, a one-time offer, but we can’t know this if we are facing away from ourselves.
4) Make friends with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the only one you have that lasts for the whole of your life, and you can be the greatest friend or the worst enemy to yourself. So it’s very important not to emotionally put down or beat yourself up. Look in the mirror and think today I am confident, strong and empowering myself to be the person I have always wanted to be.
5) Love, Compassion and Wisdom. When you are suffering, it’s easy to want to deny or repress your feelings, as they get huge and overwhelming. A great way to overcome your own suffering is to learn to give to others, whether its a smile, support, a kind comment. You might be kind to an animal, save an insect, smile at the overworked cashier or just listen to a troubled friend. This is the kindness of giving. Through giving to others you become closer to the inner happiness beneath your own suffering or grief. Giving to others is the greatest gift.
6) Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Treasure yourself. These are big steps, but each one liberates the heart and sets you free. You need to forgive yourself for feeling angry, for getting upset, for all things you think you’ve done wrong. They are in the past and who you are now is not who you were then. You can take any guilt or shame by the hand, invite it in for tea, and open yourself to self-forgiveness.
7) Meditate. There is an overwhelming amount of research showing how meditation changes the circuits in the part of the mind associated with contentment and happiness and stimulates the “feel-good” factor. Meditation on love and kindness makes you much, much happier! You can meditate by sending out love for others, animals or World Peace. A simple breathing exercise of concentrating of the the breath by breathing in through the nostrils and out through the mouth.