Before we talk about how to gain peace of mind, perhaps we should look at what peace of mind is. Although we all have a slightly different definition there is a universal form of peace of mind that we can all resonate with.
Peace of mind is a calmness where we are not currently affected by what is going on around us. We are in control of our thoughts and emotions so they do not affect us.
We have this central line of ‘normal’ that represents our normal state of being. It’s a balance between our likes and dislikes. This state of mind is the grounding, the place where we feel calm with a lot of neutrality when it comes to our feelings. From here we can either go to a state of excitement or to a place of despair.
How do we return to the central, balanced state of mind, this peaceful place?
Finding that little peace of mind in this busy crazy world.
1. Take a deep breath.
Simple: just take a deep breath. Recognise that you’re taking air in through your nose and breathing out through your mouth. If you do this for a few moments and also take notice of your surroundings but without judging or labelling anything, this will help take you to the centre line, the balanced place in your mind to give you that first glimpse of peace of mind.
It doesn’t last long. Pay attention, enjoy it.
2. Acknowledge our bodies
Again, we start with a deep breath. This time we take notice of our bodies.
How are you feeling physically?
Are there parts of your body that feel tight or tense?
Are there any parts that you can relax?
Spend a few moments listening to different parts of your body, starting from your feet and working up through your legs to your torso. Then your arms, shoulders and neck. Finally move on to your face and your head. With each out breath, relax each part as you go along.
There is a second part to having peace of mind.
This is the gap between thoughts. That little space between this constant monkey noise within our minds that simply does not let up. Nagging us about the most unimportant things almost every moment we are awake, including when we are trying to sleep. So how do we create this space between our thoughts to give us this extra peace of mind?
3. Allow our thoughts to just be
Recognise that our thoughts are going to come and go anyway, there is nothing we can do to stop them. There is no off switch, and when we recognise this we stop trying to silence the thoughts with some kind of forced mental power. Even meditation masters cannot switch off their thoughts. The bad news is you’re never going to be in a complete state of quiet with a blank mind. The good news is you can learn to control your thoughts.
While taking your deep breaths, if any thoughts arise just acknowledge them and let them be with a softness rather than trying to push them away. Ah, that’s a thought. And that’s another thought.
You can even thank your mind for the thoughts; acknowledge them and just gently say in your mind, if you appreciate the thought, ‘thank you’.
4. Ask your mind for more thoughts
This one comes from an article I wrote about silencing the mind instantly. In short, if you sit down and take a deep breath and say to your mind ‘let me have them, give me all the thoughts you have, I’m listening,’ there will be a magic silence for a few seconds. Apparently even our minds don’t like being put on the spot!
Try it now – but it doesn’t last long.
5. Do something
I am not going to make the final part very long. I’m sure you get the gist of ‘doing something’. Read a book or pay close attention to nature while on a walk. Drink a cup of tea mindfully, taking every sip and savouring every part of the process.
Mindfully doing anything, being 100% present with what we are doing, brings this exquisite quality to how we are thinking and more importantly it gives us the ability to control our thoughts and focus on what is important.
That’s the basis of meditation: meditation isn’t about ‘no thoughts’, it is about controlling your thoughts, recognising when our minds are wandering and then bringing them gently back to the present moment. The more you meditate or practice mindfulness, the more you will live in the moment by bringing your mind back to the here and now when it wanders.
Very often in the moment we are living on that balanced line between our wants and our dislikes, already in the centre.
Peace of mind is not something that can be attained permanently. It is a moment by moment thing which we can have temporarily. But the more we practice, the more of those moments of peace of mind we can have.
Remember, nothing is permanent; even the most dreadful and chaotic moments that we would consider the opposite of peace of mind will pass, and shortly afterwards, peace of mind will be once again attainable.