There is a lot of discussion these days about the idea of “inner peace”. It has actually been a topic for millennia and a key goal of virtually every religious tradition and spiritual path. Regardless of whether a particular tradition believes in the concept of an afterlife, all traditions share the goal of cultivating and achieving a state of inner peace during our earthly lifetimes.
So what is inner peace and is it attainable? Most people have this felt sense of calm and well-being however fleeting or sustained this state may be for them. Feeling peace within is about finding a calm and centered place inside regardless of the circumstances in which you find yourself. Of course, it is considerably easier to experience feelings of peace when things are going well in our lives, our health is good and our work and relationships are running smoothly. Such inner peace is tested repeatedly because it is seldom the case that things are all running smoothly in our lives, at least not for a very lengthy or sustained period of time.
So what allows some of us to experience many hours or days of inner peace while others find it very elusive? The good news is that developing the ability to access a calm and centered state of consciousness is probably more a product of attitude and skill development than good fortune or temperament for most people. While there are certainly some people who seem to have been born with a consistent sense of personal well-being, they are few and far between.
Environmental factors that nurture our ability to cultivate inner peace include parenting style, the home environment we were raised in and the level of stress management skills in our role models—both parents and other adults. Fortunately, even individuals raised in highly stressful, chaotic and dysfunctional families can develop the skills and attitudes necessary to gain inner peace. Other tools that help us develop this way of including our religious and spiritual beliefs, yoga and meditation, reading books, attending workshops and making it a truly intentional and high priority goal in our lives. While no one is able to sustain feelings of inner peace at all times and under all circumstances, we all have access to this experience if we dedicate ourselves to a path of learning, understanding, and acceptance.
- Have you had the experience of feeling inner peace? How would describe the experience?
- Have you always had access to this experience or did it develop later in your life?
- What learning experiences, role models or self-help tools have helped you develop your ability to feel and sustain feelings of inner peace?
- If this experience has been especially elusive in your life, to what do you attribute your difficulties in accessing a state of inner calm and well-being?
- What attitudes and beliefs promote your sense of inner calm and well-being and what thoughts tend to disrupt your experience of inner peace?