Three Ways to Find Inner Peace in a Wacky World - Rancho La Puerta

Three Ways to Find Inner Peace in a Wacky World

 Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence …

As a child, I read this advice from Desiderata (the 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann) almost every day because a framed, calligraphic poster of it hung on our bathroom wall — and on millions of other walls of the era.

Its counsel always seemed so wise to me.

As I grew up, though, I discovered just how tough Ehrmann’s advice would be to follow. And as our society has become both noisier and hastier in countless ways, locating “what peace there may be in silence” has become that much more challenging for most of us.

Over the past few years, we’ve all been experiencing a slew of physically and emotionally disrupting conditions. Bracing for unpredictable impacts as we strive to make sense of our accelerating rate of change has been downright exhausting.

So if there was ever a good time to learn how to reclaim our sense of inner peace, that time is now.

Want some help with that? Here are three of my favorite ways to go from feeling frayed and frantic to calm and centered — in as little as just a few minutes.

Try My “Morning-Minutes” Practice

You’ve probably heard that having a morning ritual is a good idea. But you might be struggling to make it happen in real life.

Perhaps you’ve made your morning ritual more complicated and time-consuming than it has to be.

Or perhaps you’re in the habit of reaching for your phone — just to “check in” — as soon as you wake up. From there, either your ritual gets derailed, or you do it, but it doesn’t have the impact you’d hoped for.

There are some good scientific reasons for this.

When you first wake up, your brain is in a super-sensitive “theta” brainwave state — a creative, impressionable mode between waking and sleeping.

So when you go to electronics and media first thing on waking, you expose your still-delicate self to an assault of world news, worries, to-do lists, and worse. And in the process, you throw your body-mind system into an inflammatory stress response.

There’s a better way!

Rather than letting the whole “noise and haste” world come at you before you are fully awake, I suggest you instead claim these first few high-value minutes of your day for yourself. Here’s how:

  • Right when you wake up, before you do anything else, give yourself the gift of coming into your waking state gradually and pleasurably.
  • Before looking at ANY screens, flipping on the radio, or picking up the morning paper, just use the first few minutes of your day to enjoy doing something (anything) that you find appealing.
  • That’s it. Really.

My agreement with myself is that I will do a minimum of three minutes in this mode, but you can extend your Morning Minutes practice for as long as you like.

Keeping the base commitment short is the best way to avoid making it feel burdensome or like something you “just don’t have time for” on a given day.

Listen: You DO have three minutes. You deserve three minutes. And if you feel you can’t commit three minutes to your own mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, it is worth challenging that belief or setting a new boundary so that you can.

What you do with your three minutes is entirely up to you. I usually light a beeswax candle and journal or play guitar or pet my dog while I sip a cup of really good coffee.

But on different days, I do different things.

Sometimes I meditate; sometimes I do yoga; sometimes I step outside and look up at the sky. Sometimes I just lie in bed for a few extra minutes, checking in with how my body and mind feel on that day.

Try it and see for yourself. And, hey, don’t be surprised if NOT reaching for your phone first thing turns out to be a whole lot harder than you thought.

Establish a Sensory Haven

We all need a place where we can withdraw from what I call our “Unhealthy Default Reality” and recover from its overwhelming influences.

We need a place where we can reset our brains, calm our nerves, and reconnect with our wiser selves.

Here’s how to create such a sensory haven for yourself …

  • Choose a spot where you feel reasonably safe (any area within your home is fine).
  • Create some physical and psychic barriers around the space if you can.
  • When you are using this special space in haven mode, silence all devices.
  • Have no media playing in the background, except maybe some calming music of your choosing.
  • Surround yourself with good smells. Soft lighting. Cleared surfaces.
  • Sit in a comfy chair. Swaddle yourself in a quilt. Or just lie down, close your eyes, and breathe.

Yes, the world is straight-up wacky a lot of the time. Yes, there will always be more to do. But remember: It is also your birthright to just be. To go slow. To pause. To process. To enjoy.

This brings me to my third inner-peace reclamation strategy …

 

Take Yourself for a No-phone Walk

If you can only make 10 minutes, fine. If you can go for 20 minutes, or a half hour or longer, even better.

Carry only what you must. Leave biometric gadgets, and all your other noise-making, distracting electronic thingamabobs behind.

If you feel you can’t safely go for even a short walk — even around the block — without your phone, first, just notice that (the Unhealthy Default Reality at work!). Then put your phone in a zip-top bag inside another bag with a rubber band wrapped around it tight, so you are less tempted to reflexively (addictively) reach for it or have your attention held hostage by it the entire time.

Here are a few more tips to help your no-phone walks work their magic:

  • As you walk, be in your animal body. Sniff the air. Open your ears to the wind and the flutter of living things.
  • Make eye contact with other animals (including humans), plants, clouds, puddles of water, and sunshine.
  • Make heart contact with yourself. Smile at some folks.
  • Let your random thoughts flop around in your too-full brain until they quiet down and begin to re-order themselves.
  • Bring a notebook to capture big-aha insights (which tend to come through on such walks with surprising regularity).

Above all, notice who you are when you are unplugged, unburdened, and free to connect with yourself and the real world around you.

Inner Peace on Tap

Give one or more of these three practices a try (ideally, for a few days running) and see how they work for you.

My hope is that they will leave you feeling less frazzled, less weary, and more capable of handling whatever “noise and haste” this crazy world of ours continues to crank out.

Pilar Gerasimo is an award-winning health journalist and author of The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World.

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