Skip to main content

World Peace Day: accessing tranquility

On World Peace Day, I wanted to take some time out and think about what the idea of peace really means to us on a day-to-day basis.

The dictionary definition of peace offers us two versions; firstly it means the freedom from disturbance or a state of tranquility; and secondly, it means a state in which war is non-existent or has ended.  It is not my area of expertise to discuss the second meaning and although I wish that version was a reality for us all, sadly at the present time it is not. Instead, I'll focus on that first definition.

Freedom from disturbance - well that sounds rather lovely doesn't it?  Peace and quiet, the mental space to do what we want without being annoyed or distracted by any outside interferences.  How realistic is that really?

This week, I spoke to some of my yoga students about how sometimes we have to craft that space for peace and tranquility even in the most difficult of environments.  When we are stressed or in the midst of a noisy and difficult environment, it is peace that we need above all else, but it often feels impossible to find.  How many of you have thought you would like to meditate but can't find a quiet corner of the house to do so?  How many times at work have we just needed a quiet little bubble to sit in, without the noise of the phone ringing or the chatter of our co-workers annoying us?

Well, even in the midst of all that outside distraction, it is possible to attain a degree of inner peace.  The simplest way to do this is to just close your eyes and take three deep breaths...and I mean deep.  Really breathe into the tummy - imagine you are inflating and deflating a balloon in your stomach - and allow the energy of that breath to infuse your whole body.  With your eyes closed, you are no longer using your sight to witness the chaos around you and are immediately able to bring the focus into yourself a little more.  Yes, you'll still be sat in your home, office, busy airport etc. but you are at least able to find a few seconds where you quite literally, close your eyes on what is going on around you.  Of course, don't do this when driving!!

Filtering out the noise is never easy; even as an experienced meditator I still get frustrated when the doorbell rings or one of my pets makes a noise and makes me jump, but I can soon settle back into that relaxed space because I have been practising achieving that state for a long time now.

One of the most interesting things I see is, when I start a new restorative yoga or meditation session, I ask everyone to sit quietly for 5 minutes, with their eyes closed and to just breathe.  The amount of people who cannot sit still and relax is astounding!  These are people who have specifically come to me because they want to relax and learn to switch off but it's almost as if their brains and bodies simply won't allow it.  They fidget, they cough, they half open one eye to peep at what everyone else is doing, and they all say that that part of the class is the hardest bit!

Why do we find it so hard to switch off these days? In my opinion it has an awful lot to do with the way we live our lives but also the way in which 'time saving' technology has become all consuming.  We are never more than a few feet away from our smart phones and indeed, some people go into a full on panic if they forget and leave their phones at home, thinking that they will somehow miss out on something important.  Seriously, how many truly important messages do we actually get everyday?  This fear is in many ways unrealistic but it keeps us glued to these little hand held boxes of information.  I have all the notification sounds turned off on my phone because I realised that the sound of a message appearing was actually causing my stress response to trigger!  Consider how many beeps and noises we get - Facebook notifications, email, texts etc. - and think how many times our stress response kicks in on an average day...ridiculous isn't it?  No wonder we all feel so fraught and easily wound up!

I do realise that meditation isn't for everyone - many people are put off by the stereotype of people sitting cross legged and 'omming' but that simply isn't the case.  I know people from all walks of life, from accountants to yes, yoga teachers like myself, who meditate daily and find it helps them.  It's just sitting quietly and letting external factors melt away for a few moments or minutes.  You may even be doing a meditation-style practice without realising it already - taking walks in the countryside, doing adult colouring books, knitting, sewing, building things from wood, stroking your cat on the sofa - all of these can give you the same peace inducing feelings as a traditional meditation practice.

So, on World Peace Day, why not take 5 and give yourself  some much need space to feel free and access tranquility.


Popular posts from this blog

The one thing you need to do to revolutionise your day

I'm self-employed so through necessity, I have to fit a lot into my daily routine. This includes time physically spent at work or teaching, time at home doing the admin side of my business - social media, accounts etc, time for myself, including working out, spending time with my friends, family and pets, and time for those boring but necessary daily chores. This does sound like I have a lot of plates spinning and in all honesty, I do, but it's just what works for me. Now, I'm not writing this post because I want to suggest I am some kind of superwoman (really, I'm far from it), but because people ask me how I manage it all and I wanted to share my secret for finding a good work/life balance... LISTS! Ok it's not that exciting or innovative but stick with me on this... I write a weekly to-do list, as I'm sure loads of you do too.  I start with the things I absolutely have to do that week. If things are time sensitive, i.e. I need to pay that invoic

The Power of Pets

I am quite aware that people secretly think I'm a 'crazy guinea pig/rabbit lady' and if there's any bunny or piggy memes on Facebook or Instagram, I know who's going to get tagged in them!  Like many of you out there, my pets are family to me. Ever since I was tiny, there's always been a pet of some kind on the house - guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, hamsters, chicken, ducks, fish - even had a pony as a kid but obviously, that didn't live in the house!  Before you think it, no I haven't/don't live on a farm either! Aside from all the wonderful aspects of their personalities and the hilarious things they do, my pets are a way of helping manage my mental health.  Knowing that there is a small creature that is completely reliant upon you to get up every day and ensure its basic needs are met, is a great way to keep yourself motivated and on track.  The companionship and unconditional love you get from a pet is also invaluable; they don't c

Getting my running mojo back

It's been quite a while since I posted about running and in all honesty, I think it's because I didn't have any races in the pipeline so I was feeling like I'd lost my running mojo. I was still running but instead of going out 3 or 4 times a week and following a strict plan, I was just running as and when I felt like it.  I have to say, I am definitely one of those people who needs a goal or something to focus on.  I really like have a training plan as it means that I can quite literally tick off my training and get a sense of accomplishment from that...I do love a list! After all the marathon training, I was genuinely worried that I might lose my love for running.  I had heard horror stories of other marathoners who, after accomplishing the marathon, just completely fell out of love with running and stopped completely. I went out on the Sunday after the marathon to run the 3.7 miles for Matt Campbell, the man who sadly died in this year's London Marathon.