Five Ways to Cultivate More Peace in our Lives

1. Be a ware of your intake with Television, the news feeds our fear instinct and many prime-time shows are feeding violence and discord.  I am not saying never watch TV, just be aware of how much you watch, and which shows you choose.  Television is one source of food that we feed our psyche. 

Suggestion:  Work on nourishing your mind with passion projects at least 2 nights a week instead of watching TV.2.

2. Practice mindfulness meditation.  Meditation is easy, you can’t do it wrong, there is nothing weird, hocus-pocus, or new age about it.  Mindfulness meditation is based in psychology and science, it is not a religious practice.  With mindfulness the goal is self-understanding.  In meditation we quiet the thinking mind so that we can see beneath the constant, unconscious chatter, that fills our minds.  We go to the gym to work out our bodies which helps us stay physically healthy.  Mindfulness is the gym for our brains.  Meditation helps our minds to stay healthy and it integrates all aspects of our being, so we are functioning as a whole human, rather than having some fragmented or disjointed parts in our psyche. 

For ease, I will describe a basic mindfulness meditation for you to explore.  Pick an amount of time that works for you.  I suggest 5 to 20 minutes to start.  Find a comfortable upright posture, straight back but not rigid.  If your comfortable closing your eyes, close them; if not, leave your eyes open with a soft downward gaze.  When you are sitting, first notice your body and any feelings and sensations that may come up.  Just feel them with curious awareness—tingles in my feet, warmth in my hands, stiffness in my leg, etc.  After you settle in begin to look at your breath.  Some people follow the breath right where the air comes into their nose.  Others following the breath at the back of the throat, and some use the rise and fall of their belly—choose wherever the breath is most predominant for you, and let this point be your anchor, your home base.  While you are concentrating on your breath you will notice that your mind will start to wander.   It’s no big deal, that’s what minds do, when you realize you’re lost in thought, gently remind yourself to come back to your breath.  Mindfulness takes effort but it’s a gentle effort; realizing that you are lost in thought or story and coming back to you breathe.  It’s that simple.

If you prefer to listen to a guided meditation, there are many resources on-line or use one of the guided meditations available on my web site.

Suggestion:  Try committing to mindfulness every day for 30 days without judging your progress or the outcome.  Sit for whatever amount of time works for you but try to do the same amount of time every day.  If you decide 15 minutes is your number, commit to sitting for 15 minutes every day, for 30 days.   

3. Write a gratitude journal.  Every day write down four or five things you are feeling grateful for, or if you’re up for it, write one whole page of gratitude in your journal.  Try not to be automatic, don’t list the same things every day.  The practice of gratitude is to get into the feeling of your gratitude, so each thing you are writing down feels alive or moves you in some way.

4. Take time to walk or enjoy nature.  It could be as simple as noticing the flowers as you walk to the mail box.  Maybe you decide to go for a walk around the block, maybe a hike, or a bike ride.  Notice what it feels like to step or peddle your bike.  Notice what it feels like to breath the fresh air.  Notice the flowers and the plants.  Notice the sounds, the birds, the dogs, the cars, whatever comes.  Just make time for this moment and use nature to slow your attention down by connecting with the simple beauty that lives all around us.

5. Make it a practice to do one compassionate act every day.  It doesn’t have to be big; it can be as simple as holding the door open for the person walking in behind you.  Just be conscious and intentional as you offer your act of compassion for the day—set out with the intent to find an opportunity where compassion is needed.   

Suggestion:  Commit to doing all 5 of these things for next 30 days without judging your progress or outcome. After 30 days check-in with yourself to see how you feel. Journal about the differences you feel, lessons you have learned, insight you have gained.

Do you have other ideas or practices that you use for cultivating a peaceful life?  I’d love to hear them!  Please email me or reply to this blog. 

May you feel peace and ease in life.  May light shine on your path.  May you become all you are intended to be.

About the Author:

Dr. Rinaldi has spent the last 8 years researching compassion and self-awareness as well as the effects of meditation on the psyche. Trained in archetypal psychology her teachings incorporate the skill of compassion as a key to humanity's next evolutionary process towards a more peaceful way of living. Living more peacefully directly affects how we are able to relate in our personal and professional relationships. As we become more effective and psychologically whole, we become more equipped to handle challenging situations with more equanimity.

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