We are all busy in our own way. Many of us think that we are exceptions – that our lives are particularly difficult when it comes to building in peaceful space. For instance, we may say:
- “My job doesn’t let me rest – it has requirements.”
- “I have people whom I care for – I can’t just leave them unattended.”
- “I have an unending chain of emails to answer.”
I don’t doubt the truth of all these statements. But they all have something in common. They all point outwards to the world, and effectively say “the world is organised in such a way that I have no choice”.
My counselling clients will often point this out in relation to their lives. Now, it would be social suicide for me to disagree with them. After all, are they not the experts in their own lives? Who am I to tell them what is or isn’t true? So I don’t disagree with them. I accept their story of events. The world does, indeed, require them to do their job, or care for those they care for, or answer the overwhelming list of emails.
But, slowly, we do manage to build peace into our days. How does this happen, if I have accepted that we are all trapped by our obligations?
Well, I have noticed two ways in which, even in the worst of times, we seem to be able to build peace into a day.
METHOD #1 – MICRO-BREAKS
We may not have much time for peace, but equally this does not mean we do not have ANY time at all. We can begin by finding a minute here, a minute there. For example, it takes a minute to go to the toilet, and we don’t deny ourselves that. Method 1 is to begin stealing individual minutes for rest. For instance:
- when driving somewhere, park by the side of the road for a minute
- stop and chat with a friend, colleague or stranger for a minute
- when working, walk to the end of a corridor and back for a minute
- when catching up on emails, take one minute’s rest for every ten minutes of work
We can use technology to help us, perhaps setting alarms to break up our working routine. Plum Village, the retreat, uses a mindfulness bell, and has an app that recreates this effect. (Link here.)
METHOD #2 – WINDING DOWN BEFORE SLEEP
We all rest at night for several hours. This proves that we have time to do so. We can begin to add time to our bedtime routine. Our nights can become longer and more restful. Method 2 is therefore to make small adjustments to increase quiet time before sleep. For instance:
- have a rule not to make or take phone calls after a particular time
- change for bed an hour before bedtime (this teaches your body to relax)
- turn the house lights down an hour before you anticipate going to bed
- aim to be in your bedroom ready for sleep fifteen minutes earlier than usual
- buy a book, and build in fifteen minutes of reading before your usual bedtime
That’s it. Two tips to win back some moments of peace.
- Winding down before sleep
Not everything will be solved at once. But it reduces the emotional temperature of living, and begins the process of making peaceful spaces in our day.