When things are going well in our lives, it is easy to be peaceful.
But what happens when you get bad news, you have a disagreement with someone, or you are faced with a stressful situation? How do you take care of yourself and at the same time respond in a peaceful way?
I love when my life flows smoothly and I am happy and calm. But the true test of my peacefulness is how I respond when life gets difficult. Am I able to stay centered, calm, and aware even when confronted with a challenging situation?
Peacefulness is not something we bring into our life, it is a quality we find within ourselves.
We can move to the mountains to find solitude but if we haven't learned to cultivate peace within, it is only a matter of time until things happen beyond our control and we lose our sense of calm again.
One of my favorite visualizations to cultivate peace of mind is to hold the vision of a monk sitting calmly in the middle of an earthquake. Even though everything is trembling around him, he doesn't let what is happening in his environment affect his inner state of being.
The truth is, life is unpredictable and always changing. Life brings us happiness, yet we can't hold onto it. Even if we hide deep in the mountains, it is difficult to keep at bay situations which may affect our peace of mind.
No matter where we are, if we want to be happy in life, it is necessary to learn how to deal with life's ups and downs, and like the monk, stay centered no matter what is happening around us.
Rather than wanting a difficult situation to go away, we can move through the experience more easily while taking the opportunity to learn as much as we can. Here are 10 ways to respond more peacefully when faced with life's challenges:
When we are faced with a stressful situation, it is normal for our body to tense-up and our breathing to become restricted. Stop for a moment, sit still and take 2-3 deep breaths. This will help you to release the tension and return to a sense of calm again.
Express your feelings
Fully expressing the emotions you are feeling is a natural and healthy response when faced with a difficult event. Give yourself the time you need to be with your feelings. This is an important first step to restoring your peace of mind.
When difficult events happen in life it is important to stay focused on what you are currently experiencing. By staying present, you will be able to observe, learn, and eventually become aware of the gift in the experience.
When you have zero control over what is happening around you and you realize you cannot change the outcome, it is best to practice acceptance. This is not always easy to do. You may feel angry that things did not turn out the way you expected. You may feel disappointed when life changes direction and you are left in a situation that you do not want. The practice of acceptance makes it easier to move out of struggle and back into peacefulness again.
In the middle of a conflict with another, it may be necessary to set healthy boundaries for yourself. You can choose to say no, walk away temporarily, or end an interaction if you decide it is not beneficial. Giving yourself the space to reflect upon an experience, will bring a needed sense of relief.
Move your body
When you become stressed it is beneficial to move your body to release pent-up energy and to regain clarity of mind. A few yoga poses, a short walk or some stretching can help you move through an uncomfortable situation with greater ease.
Connect to your inner wisdom
It is easy to feel confused when chaos shows up in your life. The best way to address the confusion is to write out your answers to the following questions:
- What do I believe is happening; is it true?
- Do I have control over what is happening?
- What are my options?
- What is my best action to take?
- What are the possible outcomes?
Talk about it
When you feel confused about a situation in your life and unclear as to what direction to take, it really helps to talk with a friend, family member or mentor. Sometimes other people are able to provide a different perspective that you may not be able to see. Even though they might not be able to solve the problem, they can still offer you support and encouragement.
There are times when although we sit to meditate, write, ask questions and talk to others, we are still unable to gain the clarity we need to step out of a difficult situation. In times like this, it is important to receive support to become aware of old patterns, see where you may be stuck, and determine how to best move forward in your life.
When faced with life difficulties, it is beneficial to take extra time to rest and nurture yourself. You may want to take a bath, do some yoga, read a good book, or spend time in nature. It can be helpful to go to bed earlier than usual, eat warm and nurturing foods, and have some quiet time alone.
There is something to be grateful for in every life situation, even the most challenging ones. Feeling gratitude for the experiences that life offers can help you return to a path of peacefulness again.
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