Where Do I Start?
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 A question that is often asked or inferred during an Inner Peace class I facilitate at the Center For Creative Living is “how do I get to inner peace.” The short answer in the moment is “practice”. But the deeper aspect of the question is answered for the attendees by the end of the class. However, the answer is multifaceted, and that is what inspired this article.

 Since inner peace is the result of a stress-free life, it seems that relieving stress is a place to start. Now stress may appear in many different ways and from a multitude of causes, but the foundation on which stress is built are beliefs. It may not appear that way in your everyday activities and relationships, but upon close and thorough scrutiny beliefs are a starting point.

 Are there other places to start? Yes, indeed; it depends upon where you are emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. We would like to reduce or eliminate stress as quickly as possible, for sure, and there are plenty of ways to do that. If you start with releasing stressful moments when they occur, then an ongoing practice will eliminate the stress over time. Some simple ways to do this are:

  • Take a deep breath or two and relax your body
  • Refocus your attention to a peaceful moment or joyful experience
  • Take a walk
  • Sing, dance, smile, whistle, or play a musical instrument
  • Listen to music
  • Feel and express gratitude

 There are plenty of other ways to reduce stress in the moment, but what about over the long term? There also are many techniques for this too, but it takes a lot more practice. In my upcoming ebook, Inner Peace Revealed, I go into ways of doing stress reduction over the long term. The main thing here is that whatever the technique, consistent practice is the key for success. The other thing about getting to the core over time is working with beliefs. This process is fundamental in my class.

 What can surface your beliefs over time is awareness. Try going 21 days without complaining and see how your awareness opens you to noticing what you complain about. When you are aware of your thoughts, words, and actions, you can do something about making changes. If you were not aware that the tires on your car needed air, then you wouldn’t fill them until something like a flat got your attention. The same thing applies with beliefs and the resulting actions like judging, complaining, being offended, resentment, hate, and the list goes on.

 Inner peace is a state of mind that bypasses the above. The preceding partial list no longer makes sense when you live in a state of peace; you cannot possibly hate someone and feel peaceful at the same time. Can you feel them separately? Of course you can, but then that isn’t maintaining a peaceful condition either. The more of the feelings mentioned above that you eliminate from your life, the more peaceful will you become. Is that even possible? Yes! Is it hard to do? Yes it is for most people. But I have done it, and you can too.

 So where do you start? Begin to examine your beliefs. Ask yourself why you get upset when someone says certain things to you, or why you fell like a victim in certain circumstances. Become aware of your judgments, your complaints, your emotions and what happens right before they change. Reflect on why you feel resentment or hatred toward certain people or situations. Explore your fears and where they came from.

 A simple way to transition toward a peaceful life is to practice gratitude. Be grateful as your feet hit the floor when you get out of bed in the morning. Be grateful for the new day, for all that you have in your life, for your body and whatever comes to your mind. Practice saying “thank you” to people during the day and really mean it; feel gratitude when you say it. Be thankful for your day and all that you experienced, whether you liked it or not. If you practice this one action daily, you will a shift in the way you life your life and see the world.

 The way you view the world is your perception of it, not how it is. In Reality everything just is. There is no good or bad, better or worst, beautiful or ugly unless you see it that way. The world is neutral. Only our approach to seeing it and describing it makes it a certain way. This is not something I have thought up. These principles have been around for thousands of years. I could list hundreds of quotes here from ‘famous’ people to prove my point, but I have nothing to prove. Either you examine it and explore possibilities, or you dismiss it. Whatever you do doesn’t affect me. I am only a messenger.

 If you really want a life that flows from one peaceful moment to another, if you want to put down the stress that has ruled your life for years, if you want to be happy, then I suggest you consider what I have written. We cannot change our lives by continuing to do what we have always done. We can only do that by taking a step in another direction and see where it leads us.

 I have gotten where I am through persistent practice of spiritual principles day by day, year after year. Until we stop and look at where we are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and begin to exam what our life is about, we cannot open our awareness to something different. Peace, happiness, and joy as a way of life are right around the corner. Are you willing to peak around it and see what is there for you?

 Take a step toward something new. Risk discovering a whole new you. Are you up to it? This is where you start.

Copyright 2008 Inner Peace and Wisdom      All rights reserved