What does inner peace mean to you? Does it mean a sanctuary where you can come home from stressful situations and find a place of safety, away from the “cares of the world”? Does it mean a place where you can be yourself, without the facade that many of us wear throughout the day so that people don’t know how we really feel? Or is this place (often our home) another place where we need to protect ourselves from the constant onslaught of anger, hostility and power play that so often define the measure of our lives in the 21st century?
The dictionary defines “inward” as: having to do with or being within the body; 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 purposes of this article, I will combine these two terms and define inner peace as the integration of our thoughts and feelings, culminating in a state of calm and harmony. One of the most important keys to this peace and harmony, or “peace of mind” as it is often called, is to respect our emotional nature and find methods to express feelings in appropriate ways that allow us to let them go.
Practical steps for letting go of emotions
1. Learn to listen to yourself
Many of us have been stressed for so long that we no longer know what we are feeling. In a particular situation, we “freak out” and find it incredible that we have lost control. This is actually the result of an accumulation of emotions that we were not aware of.
2. Take responsibility for your feelings
No one is forcing you to feel anything; you choose how you think and feel based on how you interpret the situation. When you blame others, you relinquish 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 can express your feelings without someone judging you will give you the opportunity to release pent-up emotions.
4. Accept yourself
You don’t have to be perfect, and learning to accept yourself with all your strengths and weaknesses creates a sense of inner peace.
5. Do not judge yourself
Judging yourself means you think you have to be perfect and creates a feeling of not being “good enough.” When you feel 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 gone and you did the best you could with what you knew then. If the past brings back memories of painful experiences for you, let go of the memories and find forgiveness for yourself and/or others. This does not mean that you condone those behaviours. It means that you let go of the memories and feelings in order to find your own inner healing and peace.
7. Learn to relax
There are many methods to help stay in balance and harmony. Meditation as a daily ritual, reading, exercising, taking a walk, or creating a sacred space where you can spend time to feel a sense of renewal and refreshment are all methods that will keep you from focusing on “what’s wrong” and lead you to see yourself as the “master of your life.”
8. Practice gratitude
What you focus your attention on increases when you energize your thoughts. Thoughts of peace, love and abundance increase inner healing and peace and lead to a life that feels more balanced and harmonious.
9. Keep a journal
For many years, people have used journaling to release emotions and keep track of what is happening. This diary or notebook is just for you and allows you to say anything you want without anyone seeing it but you. Emotions once expressed tend to dissipate and you will find that they are released through this exploration. If this process does not fully resolve them the first time, repeat the exercise.
10. Spend time in nature
We are a part of nature, and when we reconnect with the natural world, we touch our inner self or our spiritual connection to something greater. This greater 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 well in our world.”