Let’s talk about inner peace. How do you find it and what does it really mean?
Inner peace is a state of happiness, inner strength and confidence, along with emotional and mental poise. It eliminates fears, worries and anxieties. A state of inner peace also removes that feeling of lack of satisfaction with life and the negative thoughts that accompany dissatisfaction.
True inner peace is the ability to remain calm and in control of yourself, regardless of external conditions and circumstances. It means a peaceful mind that is able to stay calm in every situation, and it can be attained by ordinary people living an ordinary life. It is not reserved only for monks, yogis or hermits who spend all day praying or meditating.
However there are several misconceptions behind the idea of a tranquil and calm lifestyle, including that you have to endure lengthy, gruelling meditations every single day. Although I’m sure there are some people that choose to do this, it’s definitely not the majority. Although a Zen type lifestyle can mean many things, the basic idea behind it is to turn your attention inward and truly reflect on your life, your thoughts and your emotions.
It means slowing down and being mindful of the things you do. It means being at peace with your thoughts and your place within the universe. All of these things are fully obtainable for anyone, no matter how much of a newbie you are to the Zen lifestyle. To help guide you on your way, here are 5 morning and 5 evening habits that will help to transform your life and have you living a more peaceful and calm lifestyle in no time. Let’s dig in!
- Journaling Your Thoughts: A great way to kick off the first hour of the day is to journal your thoughts and reflect on the blessings in your life. It’s a wonderful way to clear your head and start your day on a positive note. It also helps to train your mind to actively seek out those moments, feelings, people or experiences that you’re grateful for. This will also help you gain more clarity on your goals and your intentions for the day. It not only puts your goals out there front and center, but keeps you motivated and focused on the direction you’re heading. It’s also a great way for you to look back and review those goals on a daily basis. It’s been said that writing down your goals will increase your chances of success by a huge percentage. It’s well worth a shot don’t you think? Make every effort to do this first thing in the morning and you’ll surprised at how much more productive and less chaotic your days start to become.
- Exercise: This is one of those habits that you might groan at, at first but it’s such an important one. Starting each day with a morning workout will help set your day up for success. Not only will you have more energy and mental clarity, but it also helps boost your productivity throughout your day. Exercise also lifts your mood and helps you kick off the day with optimism and a smile. Don’t think too much into it – you don’t have to run a marathon each morning or do a grueling, hour long workout. Simply get your body moving and your blood pumping. If you’re new to exercise, start by take a morning walk or try some yoga (this is also great for clearing your head). Look up a 20-minute workout video on YouTube or download a fitness app to help get you started like C25K, FitBod or Nike Training Club. Some are free and some are paid so be sure to check into that before you get going. Start slow and just be consistent. You’ll find that being active first thing in the morning also helps you make healthier food choices throughout the day and sleep better at night. That’s a win-win.
- Sit in Silence: Before you begin your day, take time to simply sit in silence for a short while. Before your phone starts beeping and horns start blaring, give yourself a moment to take in the quiet of the world. How often do you actually allow yourself to do this? If you’re like the majority of people, it’s probably not very often. It’s so easy to get preoccupied with the craziness of life and forget to stop and smell the roses. Make an effort to really notice the beauty around you – the clouds in the sky, the breeze blowing, and the birds chirping. Take note of your breathing. This can be a form of meditation within itself just focusing solely on taking one breath in, letting one breath out. Waking up before the world can be one of the best parts of your day because you can clear your head and simple just be. This also gives you an opportunity to take in a beautiful sunrise while the darkness of the night fades away into a brand new day.
- Visualize Your Future: When you start each day by visualizing what you want your future to look like, you automatically raise your frequency and set yourself up for success. Take 5-10 minutes each morning to picture something that you’re working towards. This can be a new job, a brand new jeep, a house on the beach or that trip to Hawaii you’ve always wanted to take. Pick one thing and envision yourself living that moment. Tap into your creativity. How do you feel making this dream a reality? What emotions are you going through? What are you wearing? Where do you live at the time? What does your life look like in that exact moment? Imagine yourself there and give visibility to your dreams through this process. A quick tip: Let go of the cursed “hows.” During your visualization, you don’t need to know how your dream is going to happen, simply that it does. This is a fun way to get to know yourself better. Plus, it gets you pumped and ready for the day ahead.
- Water Yourself: This may be one of the most obvious suggestions but it’s also one that many people don’t follow. One of the first things you want to do when you wake up is drink some water to rehydrate your body. Not only does this jump start your metabolism but it also assists in weight loss and increases your overall alertness during the day. Water helps to rid your body of toxins and can even give your skin a radiant glow. Need I say more? Those reasons alone make it so much more beneficial than reaching for a cup of coffee in the Starbucks drive thru or grabbing a can of soda at work. Plus, limiting all that caffeine and sugar will do wonders for your overall health. Make it your best effort to grab a glass of water each morning to give your mind and body the kickstart they need for a successful day.
- Read a book: After a long day, one of the best things you can do is curl up with a good book before bed. This not only relaxes your mind, but reading has also been known to reduce stress and anxiety levels and combat insomnia as well. It helps distract your mind from the daily chaos of life and redirects your focus to what is written on the page of the book. In other words, reading creates a brief escape from the world around us and there’s no better time than right before you drift off to dream. Reading is also a great way to broaden your perspective and open your mind to new possibilities – this is why it’s no surprise that it can give your creativity a boost. Adding this habit to your nightly ritual can make a huge impact on how you sleep as well as how you feel the next day.
- Self-Care: We often push self-care routines to the side because we don’t have time, life is too crazy, it doesn’t work anyway – the excuses go on and on. However, developing a nighttime self-care routine is so important. You need to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes at a time. Try a nice, relaxing bubble bath on those nights when you have a little extra time – this is a great way to unwind after a long day and let the noise of the world fade away. Give yourself the spa treatment and try a facemask or a mani/pedi to pretty up those nails. Buy yourself some fresh flowers, go for a hike or watch funny videos on YouTube that make you laugh. Do something simply because you enjoy it. A nighttime self-care ritual is a great way to put you in a relaxed state and prep you for a good night’s sleep.
- Morning Prep: One way to makes sure the next morning isn’t super chaotic is to prep for it the night before. Depending on what your mornings usually look like, your night prep might be something as simple as getting your clothing laid out for work or deciding on 3 tasks you want to focus on for the next day. Think about what will help your mornings run more smoothly and do that. If you are constantly running late because you have to make the kids lunches, start making them up the night before to give you a head start to the day. Developing a routine each evening where you feel prepped and ready for the next day will not only reduce stress but keep life from becoming too crazy the minute you wake up.
- Limit Electronics Usage: Despite how wonderful technology can be, it can also greatly affect our ability to get a restful night’s sleep – or even fall asleep for that matter. From your smartphone to your TV to video gaming devices, you want to make every effort to reduce how much you use these electronics as the sun goes down. Instead of watching that last episode on Netflix or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook 30 minutes before bed, try journaling or find a good book to help you unwind (see number 6). It’s especially important to keep your bedroom free from digital distractions. Set boundaries where you recognize that your bedroom is a place of relaxation, not an in-home movie theatre or social media station. By establishing this nighttime ritual, it’s much more likely that a long, peaceful sleep is in your future.
- Guided Meditation: Right before bed is a great time to try your hand at meditation so you can calm your mind and prepare for a good night’s sleep. If you’re new to meditation or have trouble shutting off your thoughts at night, it might be overwhelming to even know where to start. This is where guided meditation comes in. This type of meditation can help you focus and get out of your own head while keeping those distracting thoughts at bay. There are several apps to help you get started including Insight Timer and Headspace. You don’t have to commit to an hour long meditation – who has time for that anyway? There are a ton of short and quick meditations to start with so just pick one and roll with it. Meditation takes practice (even the guided kind) so don’t give up if your mind should start to wander the first 12 times you try it. Be consistent and in just 5-10 minutes a day you can start to transform your life with little to no effort.
Daily life can be full of stress, craziness and a never-ending list of to-dos. For this reason, it’s super important that you commit to morning and evening rituals that allow you to find your Zen – a little calm inside all the chaos. Who doesn’t need that, right? If you find yourself constantly on edge, overwhelmed by life and unable to sleep at night, that’s a good sign that your life could use this Zenlike transformation. You don’t have to commit a ton of time and effort. Simply be consistent and make these rituals a part of your everyday life. Start small and try one or two at a time just to ease yourself into the process. Don’t beat yourself up if your mind wanders during meditation or you don’t drink as much water as you should. It’s all part of the journey and you’re going to slip up a time or two. Give yourself patience and grace and keep at it. Finding your inner peace and Zen doesn’t happen overnight but with a few of these ideas you will be well on your way to a lifechanging transformation.