What does inner peace mean to you? Does it mean meditation practice? Does it have a feeling, like deep satisfaction or contentment? Or does it have more of a physical symbolism to it, like a tropical beach setting or the faces of your closest family members?
We all have different ideas of what inner peace means to each of us, but in general, it can be described as a state of mind where we feel completely whole, accepting everything in the present moment and radiating love outward to the world around us. With enough practice and discipline in maintaining a higher level of awareness, inner peace can be kept even through some of the most stressful times.
Here are just six truths that we all must live if we want to cultivate inner peace both on and off the mat, no matter what’s happening out there in the real world.
We must be in touch with our bodies. It’s impossible to experience inner peace when we’re disconnected from our physical bodies and unaware of how our minds are running. Needless to say, this of course doesn’t mean we need to be experts in human anatomy or psychology. It just means that we should continue to work on bringing our physical and mental resources together through our yoga practice and meditation with the goal of harmonizing the body, breath, and mind.
We must practice compassion. Many of us grow up to believe that we’re competing against each other, which naturally causes us to compare ourselves to other people, judge them, gossip about them, and sometimes even do harm to them. But judging and belittling other people offers no path to inner peace, and the same goes for when we do it ourselves. Instead, practice compassion by seeking to reduce the suffering of people around you, yourself, and all living things.
We must be aware of ego. We’re more selfish than we think, and sometimes, even an act of kindness or generosity can be wrapped up in selfish intention. Likewise, other people have their own self agendas and see the world through their own eyes, which can sometimes be interpreted as an attack on our own egos. If we can remain aware enough of other people’s personal perspectives and opinions (including our own), we’ll have a better chance of escaping the ego trap and maintaining a peaceful state of mind.
We must accept that we’re vulnerable. It’s not always pretty or fun, but embracing vulnerability opens us up to being truthful and honest. Everyone knows how tempting it is to lie, to manipulate, or to withhold information in order to get what we want or help our self images out. Awareness of ego is the first step, and practicing authenticity is the next. Being vulnerable is an essential part of being authentic, which helps us shed the guilt, shame, and worry that comes with trying to protect ourselves all the time.
We must embrace minimalism. Yoga teaches us to detach from material items and mental turmoil. Physical stuff and unproductive thought processes often distract us from what really matters and give us a false sense of security. While giving up everything you own and simplifying your day so you hardly ever have to think at all certainly isn’t necessary, taking a deeper look at your materialistic tendencies and thinking habits will definitely help you identify what needs to go. Once you learn to let go of what’s holding you back, you’ll feel much more free and at ease.
Inner peace is very simple, but it’s not easy to reach or maintain. With the above truths in mind, consider journaling a bit every day on how you experience each of them to help bring you more peace of mind.