What does internal peace mean for you?
Does it mean a place of sanctuary where you can come home from stressful situations and find that place of safety away from the ‘cares of the world’? Does it mean a place where you can be yourself without the façade many of us wear throughout the day so that people won’t know how we really feel? Or is this place (often our home) one more place where we need to defend ourselves from the ongoing onslaught of anger, hostility, and power games that are so often the measure of our lives in the 21st century?
The dictionary defines internal as: having to do with or situated inside of the body; of relating to, or existing within the mind. Peace is defined as: a state of calm and quiet; freedom from disturbing thoughts; and an agreement to end hostilities. For the purpose of this article I will combine these two notions and define internal peace as: the integration of our thoughts and feelings culminating in a state of tranquility and harmony. One of the most important keys for this tranquility and harmony or ‘peace of mind’ as it is often called, is to honour our emotional nature and find methods to express feelings in appropriate ways that allow us to release them.
Practical Steps to Releasing Emotions
1. Learn to listen to yourself. Many of us have been harried for so long that we are out-of-touch with how we feel. A situation will present itself and we will ‘flip out’ and find it unbelievable that we have lost control. This actually results from a build-up of emotions that we have not been aware of.
2. Accept responsibility for your feelings. No one makes you feel anything; rather you choose how you think and feel based on what you interpret the situation to be. Blaming others gives away your power and when you feel like a ‘victim’ you react with anger and resentment.
3. Talk to a trusted friend or counsellor. Finding a ‘safe place’ where you are able to express feelings without anyone judging you provides an opportunity to release pent-up emotions.
4. Accept yourself. You are not supposed to be perfect and learning to accept yourself with all your strengths and weaknesses creates feelings of peace within.
5. Don’t judge yourself. Judging yourself means thinking you have to be perfect and creates feelings of not being ‘good enough.’ When feeling inadequate you judge yourself harshly and no matter what you do it will never be ‘good enough.’
6. Let go of the past. The past is over and you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. If the past evokes memories of painful experiences for you, release the memories and find forgiveness for yourself and/or others. This doesn’t mean you condone these behaviors. It means you release the memories and feelings to find your own inner healing and peace.
7. Learn to relax. Many methods exist that contribute to staying in balance and harmony. Practicing meditation as a daily ritual, reading, exercising, walking, or creating a sacred space where you can spend time feeling a sense of renewal and refreshment are all methods that take you away from focusing on ‘what is wrong’ to seeing yourself as having ‘control of your life.’
8. Practice gratitude. What you pay attention to increases as you give energy to your thoughts. Thoughts of peace, love, and abundance increases the inner healing and peace and leads to living lives that feel more balanced and harmonious.
9. Keep a journal. People have used journaling for many years in order to release emotions and make sense of what is going on. This journal or notebook is for your eyes only and allows you to say anything you want without anybody seeing it except you. Once expressed, emotions tend to dissipate and you will find they are released through this exploration. If this process doesn’t totally release them the first time, repeat the exercise.
10. Spend time in nature. We are part of nature and when we re-connect with the natural world we touch our inner self/ spiritual connection to something more. That something more is our connection to the Universal Energy whether we call it God, Goddess, All That Is, or Higher Power. Whatever we call it, when we feel connected to the ‘Whole’ we recognize our place in the world and feel a sense of peace and harmony and that ‘all is right in our world.’