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24 Hours Of Peace

23 November 2009 No Comment

Each of us starts our day waking from sleep – the most peaceful of states. Keeping that state of peace can be tough, especially as we bustle through a typical day getting things done. Even harder for those surrounded by city chaos or who work in a factory or an office.

I found one way is to take regular ‘Moments Of Peace’ – short oases of attention to allow the turmoil of the day to fall away and recharge my inner space.

Here are 24, easily available moments to get you through the day.

Start Of The Day

1.     Before everything starts

I always aim to get up early, before the rest of the city wakes. You don’t even need to go out to feel the fresh energy of the new day. Whatever went before was yesterday and today is a chance to start again.

Imagine you’re standing with your back against an impenetrable wall and know there’s no turning back. Remember the rest of your life starts now, this moment, and you have this new day to take your first steps into it.

2.     Sunrise

The ancients worshipped the sun as the bringer of all life and heralded the sunrise as the daily metamorphosis from night to day. This time of day is full of expectation for the new day, cool before the sun brings its warmth, dark before it brings its light.

Watch as the sun slowly appears from below the horizon and gradually shows its face.

3.     In traffic

Sitting in traffic can be very frustrating, if you choose it to be. Alternatively you could let go of your desire to control things and relax into the uncontrollable. There is nothing you can do to make the cars move faster, no matter how hard you will it.

So stop willing it, relax your body in the safety of the metal cocoon you call your car.

At Work

4.     Arrive early

I don’t recommend it as a habit, necessarily (though avoiding the traffic can be a huge benefit) but from time to time can be very refreshing. No phone calls, no one wanting your time is an ideal moment to be with yourself and your thoughts.

A few hours early before everyone else arrives can allow concentrated, stress free time.

5.     Mundane tasks

I had a period where I would photocopy binders for training courses I was running even though I had an assistant who was paid to do this, and more than capable than I! The repetitive and mundane nature of the work allowed me to calm down.

Find something with a rhythm, turn off your brain and just be with the task at hand.

6.     Waiting

Waiting for a meeting (or ‘not-waiting‘)? Put aside your impatience and idea that this is wasted time and enjoy the moment of no obligation and nothing to do but sit and wait.

Stop checking the clock as it won’t make time pass any faster, and sit back and let time itself hold you.

7.     In the toilet

Strange thing to suggest, I know, but it’s probably the only place where you can almost guarantee that nobody is going to pester you. Don’t use it more often than is biologically necessary or you may get stuck with a reputation.

Close your eyes (to forget the location) and enjoy those few uninterrupted moments of solitude.

8.     Go for a walk

Even in the middle of a city or an industrial park there are open spaces. They may not be green and beautiful but any change of scene, or move outside into the air (ideally fresh!) can be a wonderful way to gain composure.

Figure something out or just to take a short peace break.

Out And About

9.     Church or temple

Places of worship hold the prayers of the ages in respectful silence. You don’t need to have any religious convictions to use them as an escape from the rush of the streets. Here there is no space to be busy, just you and the divine. Or you and nothingness, if that’s closer to your beliefs.

Find a quiet place to sit and take in the sacred energy available for all those willing to tune into it.

10.     People watching

You can do this anywhere at all. A café, a bench or just sit on the steps and stop. The peaceful moment is in the contrast between your tranquillity amongst the chaos.

Sit and watch the people rushing to work, home or meeting as you take a moment to be rather than do.

11.     Watching clouds

We owe our lives to the clouds. Contemplate a world with no clouds – no rain, no plants, no animals, no food, no life. Lose yourself in the ever changing shapes and patterns across the sky.

What pictures, what messages can you see in the clouds?

12.     Hugging trees

Yes, it’s a hippy thing, but just try it. Trees are often unnoticed, yet everywhere.  Feel the bark under your fingers, imagine the roots burying deep into the ground and allow yourself to be held in its strength. Ask yourself what events has it witnessed?

Put aside the New Age associations (if that helps), find the oldest tree you can and put your arms around it.

13.     Swings

I know kids playgrounds are meant for children, but we all have a child deep inside. There’s something deeply peaceful about moving without purpose, knowing that no matter how hard you push, you’re just not going to get anywhere.

Find a free swing and just sway back and forward, feeling the air on your face.

14.     On safari

If safari to Africa is out of reach then create your own local one. Animals of all kinds are everywhere, in plain view or hidden away. You can find them in the fields, forests, gardens or walking down the street.

Spend a moment searching for as many species of mammal, bird or insect as you can and remind yourself that you share the world with them. Do this with your kids for an extra bonus.

Anytime, Anywhere

15.     Breathe

Three deep, controlled breaths with full concentration on the in and out works wonders to remove stress, emotion and find the peaceful place underneath. When you’re tense your breathing becomes short and shallow but you rarely notice it.

Bring your awareness here and savour the air as it fills your lungs. Exhale and allow all the stuff you’re holding onto to leave your body. Three times. In and out.

16.     Conscious clearing of thoughts

Takes some practice, preferably a quiet place to sit and maybe one of the various techniques available.

Try this one. Imagine an empty sky in your mind’s eye. Thoughts appear as clouds floating slowly across the sky. The thoughts gradually change shape and slowly disappear from view or are vaporised by the sun shining in your sky.

17.     Stop what you’re doing right now

This is probably the easiest and the hardest at the same time. Most of us keep busy all the time and find it very difficult to get out of it. A time of no tasks, no movement, no thoughts.

Just stop! Everything. Allow the wave of time to pass without responding to the impulse to surf it.

18.     Count to ten

It’s a cliché, I know, but it does work. A conscious, slow count from one to ten provides a rhythm and an inner slowing down. Don’t rush it and do count all those numbers to feel the stress fall away bit by bit with each number.

One … two … three … four … five … six … seven … eight … nine … ten.

At Home

19.     Doing the chores

Most chores can be turned into a meditative routine and so present an opportunity to switch brain to off and lose yourself in the task.

Ironing, washing up or washing the car require almost zero brainpower – use them to turn brain off.

20.     Sunset

Watch as the sun slowly disappears below the horizon and gradually hides its face. As the day draws to a close, remember what the day has brought you. Things to be grateful for, things to mourn over, things gained, things lost.

Who touched you in some way during this day? Who did you touch in some way?

21.     Cleaning your body

Take a long hot bath, a short shower or just a moment to splash cold water on your face and allow your tension and troubles to be washed away with the dirt. Enjoy the freshness outside and inside.

Imagine everything that weighs you down right now disappearing into the drains with the water – flowing far, far away until they are gone.

22.     Gazing into eyes

They say that our eyes are the window to our souls. Our souls are beyond all the cares and worries of our physical world and, while we may not always be in touch with our own, we can access that place through the eyes of another.

Gaze deeply into the eyes of one you love and be transported to a place where there is only peace and tranquility.

23.     Hug

Consider how much peace there is in the innocence of a hug. Or how much peace in the safety you give in your hug. No expectation, no attempt to get anything – just the desire for two people to be close and wrapped in each other’s warmth.

Hug someone close to you and the moment you would normally break the embrace, stay with it and go deeper into that physical connection.

24.     When all is done

That moment at the end of the day when all is done. Chores are finished, computer is off, TV is shut down, lights are going off, bathroom routine finished. Before settling down to sleep take a moment to allow the days’ activities to fall away.

Nothing is left for the day …

… only peace.

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