“We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.”
—Francis J. Braceland
Inner peace is not something I simply woke up with one day. Finding inner peace came out of necessity from years of living a life run on self-will. The result of which were failed relationships, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, never knowing how to be happy, and depression. In a moment of desperation, I was forced to abandon my life as I knew it and ask for help. Through a spiritual program and accepting the help from a fellowship of caring, unselfish, and loving people who had something I wanted—serenity and inner peace—I found what I had always been looking for. The belief in a power greater than myself, in my case a loving God as I understood him/her, and a loving relationship with myself. In my time of desperation, I did not know this was what I was looking for, I simply realized I did not want to die and was willing to do whatever it took to relieve the pain.
Inner peace and true serenity is something I cultivate on a daily basis. It is always contingent on my spiritual condition. Getting to a place where I am able create it, or rather let it manifest itself within me, is difficult yet life changing. Below is a list of five ways I continue to cultivate inner peace on a daily basis.
1. Write a gratitude list
I like to get out a piece of paper and write down the things I’m grateful for. This can be anything from the ability to walk, feel the cold winter air, friends and family, or realizing I’m doing the best I can do today. I usually come up with at least ten.
2. Pray and Meditate
I pray every morning before I leave the house and at night before going to bed. When praying, I keep it simple. In the morning I ask for guidance for what God would have me do today, and the strength and confidence to carry it out. By asking for guidance in the morning, I’m better prepared to recognize opportunities throughout the day where I can be of service to someone. In the evening I say thanks and ask for Grace to be in the lives of those who may need it. I try and use specific names of people I know are struggling, it makes it more personal.
While praying at night, I also do sort of a quick moral inventory. I review my day and try to recognize areas in which I could have done better. These areas mostly include interactions and/or conversations with others. Are there areas I could improve on? Do I need to make any amends? Are there things I need to follow up on?
I believe praying is asking for guidance and meditation is listening for the answers. To meditate, I sit quietly and breath in and out slowly. While inhaling I think to myself “God” and “self” while exhaling. I try and do this for 10 or 15 long breaths concentrating on my breathing. There’s a lot more to meditating for me which I discuss in a little more detail in a previous post In the midst of winter: finding my invincible summer.
I read a lot of feel good books. Some of my favorites are: The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino, The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life by Emmet Fox, Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom.
Many of these I revisit, especially The Sermon on the Mount and The Greatest Miracle in the World. Both of these are packed full of ways to find inner peace.
Putting on my headphones with some good music and going for a run is always spiritual for me and brings me to a peaceful place. There’s something about being in nature that brings peace and a bit of humility.
Writing for me comes mostly in the form of music. No matter what is weighing on my mind, sitting down with my guitar and attempting to put into words what I’m feeling helps me find inner peace. This could also be considered meditation.
Inner peace comes when I accept the consequences of being myself.