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Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.

Inner peace is the opposite of emotional turbulence, and no doubt life will throw us a curveball from time to time to test us. Building your emotional resilience will reduce anxiety, and reduced anxiety feels like more inner peace. Two ends of the same spectrum...

When you feel peaceful on the inside, you are much more able to experience peace on the outside, even if that curveball comes from leftfield.

Peaceful Clouds

When you cannot control what is going on around you, try to control what is going on inside you, that is where your power is...

 

Easier said than done of course, especially if you have spent your entire life having to react to your outside environment in order to feel safe.

 

In order to achieve inner peace, we need to feel safe, the opposite of feeling safe, is feeling afraid, and when we are afraid we experience anxiety.

 

It goes without saying then, that the more we can stay grounded during periods of outside pressure, whether that be in the workplace or our relationships, the more we feel at peace. This is something that can be practised as challenges come along, it doesn't happen overnight, and it takes a level of dedication and practice.

What isn't so hard, is working on the internal traffic that also disturbs our peace, and when we look inside and observe our own thinking patterns, we see that most of the time we feel we have no internal peace, is as a consequence of our own thought loops and inner critic.

Shine your light

I know you may be thinking that the road to reduced anxiety and  more inner peace could be as simple as observing your own thoughts and meditation, but there is some science behind it too...

Remember the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS)? 

 

Medical studies show that deep breathing in a slow and steady rhythm signals to our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body into what is called rest and digest state. Unlike the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which floods our bodies with oxygen and increases our heart, the PSNS slows the heart rate down and calms the body.

Using meditation is one way of engaging your PSNS, so during periods of self-induced anxiety, we have something in our locker to turn to when we become aware anxiety has taken over us.

Peace in nature sunset

One of the main objections I come across from people is "they don't have time to meditate" or "meditation does not work for them" or the classic, "I can't meditate because I can't stop thinking".

But you don't need to sit crossed legs in room with candles and incense to meditate, essentially what we are suggesting is just connecting to your breath, becoming aware of your own breath, observing it and paying attention to it. This is simply called conscious breathing, and you can do this any time you want, anywhere, on a walk, washing the dishes, in the bath, even at your desk in the office.

It is impossible to focus on your breath and think about something else at the same time.  Go on try it!

And it isn't just your breath, a ticking clock or birdsong make excellent anchors for grounding yourself, try paying attention to the birds and think about something else at the same time, it is impossible. The minute you start thinking, you will lose the birdsong, and when you pick up the birdsong, you have stopped thinking...

Why is this important? Because when the tiger is not real (and let's face it- it usually isn't), it's very likely you are thinking yourself into anxiety. Your body cannot tell the difference between real or perceived threat remember.

By connecting to our breath, or tuning into birdsong, we engage the PSNS, which reduces our heart rate and helps anxiety subside.

In summary, the less you think, the less anxiety you will have and this equates to more inner peace...

Star gazing

Both therapy and a well managed short term program of prescription drugs can help with understanding and overcoming anxiety, my humble opinion is that drugs alone are not the solution, they only paper of the cracks temporarily, and over time cause further dependency issues. They have a role to play, they are not the solution.

Mindfulness can play an integral role in that journey, alone it is not a solution either, but it is something you can give to yourself. It isn't a maladaptive addictive coping mechanism, but a platform for change to take place, a safe space you create for yourself in your mind. 

It is proven that your thoughts affect the way you feel, given that knowledge, you might argue that you owe it to yourself to at least try and explore this practice as part of your commitment to change.

You have the power to beat anxiety, the benefits of taking back control of your thought processes cannot be underestimated in your personal battle against anxiety.

Dalai Lama quote