Settle down and let me tell you a story of how I found inner peace in an unexpected place..................
I remember a powerful conversation with my eldest son
‘I will be happy when….’ He said
I remember asking him what if he could be happy now and he just rolled his eyes and told me all the things he would benefit from having ………..
We left our conversation and I noticed patterns in myself in this language ‘ I will be happy when ……. But I didn't think too much about it.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
As I find myself being alone, more than I would like, I began to acknowledge my self-talk ‘I am homesick, I miss my family, my friends, I feel lonely, I will be happy when my husband comes home, I will feel happy when this situation is all over.
As I started to feel a little heavier and darker each day, my sleep was becoming a little off (not like me at all) that same conversation I had with my son popped up.
It was a gentle reminder of the journey I took to discover the wisdom from my experiences and recognise my happiness, the feeling of inner peace and harmony comes from within me and not from outside of me.
Something I share with my clients all the time as I help them to acknowledge and find their inner peace, harmony and happiness but had totally forgotten about this for myself.
Lucky for me I quickly recognised my off - ness and know it’s me that has the choice to feel lonely, be lonely, feel unhappy, be unhappy or feel off balance.
My wisdom has come from a number of experiences and these wonderful lessons in life spring to my mind as reminder to first look for your strength from within, before you look for it on the outside.
Claustrophobia and the cup of tea
Yes! I used to be claustrophobic. Somehow in my late teens, early twenties I became uncomfortable in small spaces. I couldn’t go in lifts, I avoided the tubes and small pubs all because I felt panic and a feeling of not being able to get out. I don’t quite remember how it developed but I do know how I overcame it from an unexpected place.
As I was exploring different ways to support my family’s well being and my own, I started my training as a meditation and mindfulness tutor. One of the practices was making a cup of tea. I know we do it everyday! But have you ever really taken the time to make tea? I now understand how powerful the eastern practice of making tea can be.
As I made my tea I was being very present in waiting for the kettle to boil, watching the steam, hearing the noise, noticing the colour of the water change gradually to a colour I liked the look of, smelling it then quietly sitting and drinking, I realised I found a place of inner peace, I felt light and at ease. My stomach wasn’t jumbling around like it was shaken up like a snow globe because of all the chores I had to do, the three children I had to feed and make sure we were ready for the evenings activities before they came home from school. This feeling of inner peace and presence emanated through my body and in that moment I found that place from within from a simple cup of tea.
Learning in the lift and the tube
What I hadn’t realised was how finding this would serve me powerfully in many areas of my life like the time I had to get into a lift and I found that place of inner peace by remembering the cup of tea.
The time when I had to use the tube in rush hour, I was able to find that place again and each time I got better at it and soon I didn’t need to think of the tea, even with my face wedged under an armpit on the tube. It was because I practiced and rehearsed bringing that feeling even without having the tea.
This for me was a profound amount of wisdom and something that I am truly grateful for, as I would have not discovered the other teachings on my journey to where I am today.
Insight in the school playground
Oh! I forgot to mention the playground. Well for me the playground was my most fearful place, I could feel the judgement, competition, overwhelm, stress and insecurities among the crowds of mums and dads and that was evoked in me.
For me, it was not the most pleasant of experiences until that cup of tea once again helped me to create my own safe space and inner peace from within myself. I taught myself to find that inner peace even as I rushed my kids to school because of always being the late one, but actually ending up on time.
The moment I walked through the gate was my cue to find the cup of tea and evoke that feeling like I was surrounded by a bubble of safety and sanctuary like my own inner spa. It wasn’t easy and it took practice but it certainly served me well and what I noticed more of in the playground from this place was happiness, kids having fun, parents smiling more and some lovely conversations that were light and fun to talk about.
So why is this all relevant to feeling alone, inner peace, connection and finding happiness?
The feeling of being alone is a feeling from within and if I surround myself with lots of people I can still feel alone.
The same with happiness, I can find happiness in things, people and places but ultimately the feeling of happiness does not come from outside of me it comes from within. That’s the place it starts.
When we begin to acknowledge and recognise this for ourselves the outside world and the challenges that we are faced with suddenly begin to change for the better.
Now when I feel alone, I find that place of inner peace first and then ask myself:
- what is this feeling?
- what do you want?
This helps me to be present with it, acknowledge it for showing up and decide whether I am really alone and the answer is more normally a NO because if I wanted to I could call a friend, I could go to the shops and notice people around me I have a choice to feel alone and be alone.
But if it is ever a yes I ask myself:
- How do you want to feel if you have to be alone?
- What are the benefits of being alone?
- What can you do to connect into happiness or inner peace instead?
I always find something, like clearing out an overflowing draw with stuff I never use. Finding an engaging book. Write down the things I have been thankful for in the most recent days like my morning coffee. Something can be found no matter how small; you just must have an intention to want to find it.
The gift of being alone
The most uncomfortable thing about being alone with yourself is that it could possibly be your greatest gift.
Why would I even dream of saying it! It was hard for me to hear too.
However, I realised that I had a fear of being alone because it meant I had to acknowledge all the things that I wanted to avoid about myself. I was always moving away from the feeling because it’s too painful or scary to accept that there are parts of me that were popping to the surface when I was on my own and I didn’t know how to deal with them. I just swept them under the carpet by keeping other people accountable like my children, my husband, my friends for keeping me away from that feeling. WOW what a realisation!
WOW! What a revelation!!! (like the time I didn’t want my kids to hang out with their friends and have fun or the time I didn’t want my husband to go mountain biking and the time I wished my friends or family would call me out of the blue because I felt alone)
I am no longer afraid to be alone, I acknowledge it, asking for its wisdom and choosing to let it go gives me the greatest sense of inner peace and an independent freedom for not placing high expectations on others to fulfil my need to not be alone because I know how to be alone and have the freedom to choose how I think, feel and behave.
The same goes with happiness. Like my children said ‘ I will only be happy when xxxx’ but when they get it they are happy for a bit, then they get the next thing. If you can experience the feeling of happiness there is an inner strength and power of being more independent in yourself and not holding other people or things accountable for your happiness and setting high expectations for others to create that happiness.
I have learnt that when I place my happiness on other people to create it for me, I never get to truly experience it for the long term and I must then find something else and this can be exhausting.
I realised that when I have placed these high expectations for others, places or things to create that happiness for me has caused arguments, frustration, disappointment and conflict from my need to have other people or things to make me happy. Now I know how to feel happiness, I find it from within first and everything around me is different, lighter, empowering and with an incredible sense of freedom and inner peace.
So, as I find myself feeling alone, I acknowledge it, thank it for its presence and find that place of inner peace and happiness then make a decision to take action. It might be that the wisdom it is sharing is for me to reach out and speak to someone, it might be to get outside and connect into nature or it simply might be that I have stuff to deal with that needs to be addressed in order to let it go.
My gift to you, is find your inner peace, your happiness from within and use its wisdom to grow through what you go through.
PS – My kids are now truly learning this message little by little and finding their happiness step by step. This current situation in 2021 is a challenge but they are finding their way and appreciating the lessons within it. I acknowledge their wisdom and insight as they inspire me every single day as they step into their own greatness.
If you feel you would like to connect to help you find your inner peace, I would love to hear from you.