To followers of Hinduism, inner peace is a balance of the Chakras, the life force centers that govern our minds and bodies. To a Buddhist, it is a state that can be reached by opening our minds to others and focusing on our internal selves, rather than on external influences. To a Zen master, the path to inner peace is one of meditation and the absence of stressful emotions. The secrets of inner peace are highly sought after, for this desirable state can seem impossible to achieve in a world that turns faster with each passing day. The secret, however, lies in the confluence of paths. Each religion and culture that teaches the significance of inner peace suggests a different way to find it, but the fundamentals of the journey always remain the same.
Inner peace is a state of complete harmony, where our internal self is balanced both mentally and spiritually. It cannot be attained without being peace-full in the face of conflict. When we are inwardly at peace, we are freed from feeling anxious and experience authentic happiness despite the stressful events around us. To achieve this state of inner peace, through whichever spiritual technique we choose, we must reach a state of enlightenment in which we truly know our inner selves.
There are a myriad of emotions that can stand in the way of such enlightenment. Our doubts and fears, our emotional past, and anxieties -- either real or imagined -- stand in the way of where we are and the deeper selves we want to be. We must learn to assimilate these emotional experiences in order to transcend.
The most commonly made mistake in the search for inner peace is to believe that simply caging these thoughts and feelings is enough. No matter how effectively we keep them hidden, ignoring the problem does not make it go away and the consequential emotional burden will stand between us and the peace we seek. Nor is it a realistic goal to rid ourselves of negative emotions altogether, for there will always be pain, loneliness, jealousy and fear in the world and, from time to time, we must expect to experience them. It is not a matter of elimination, but one of acceptance.
Inner peace is the state in which we learn to embrace the negative as much as we do the positive, accepting them as part of us. It is only natural to avoid less pleasant emotions, but when we feel sad or alone the solution is not to look for ways to throw off those feelings but to achieve harmony with them. Our lives are filled with experiences, both positive and negative, and we must learn to accept all that they offer. Some will be enriching to our soul, and some will be painful, yet both are teachers and guide our growth. We must understand the only part of a situation that we have the power to change is ourselves. In almost every culture and religion that teaches the merits of inner peace, this learning is considered to be key.
Of the numerous ways to go about the search for inner peace, some will work better for some individuals than others. But whether it is sought through prayer, meditation, yoga, reiki or communing with a higher being, inner peace is found by allowing ourselves time to quietly self-reflect on our emotions and the events in our lives. Through the practice of mindfulness, we are able to manage negative and damaging thoughts and any unconstructive inner dialogue that permeates into our mind. By observing, assimilating and balancing our thoughts we heighten our conscious awareness and begin living a higher way.
To do this, we must look at a situation from every possible angle with no specific goal in mind, gathering as much information as we can and evaluating it as objectively as possible. Through this process, we learn to understand the truth of a situation, and of the thoughts and sensations they inspire.
On the path to inner peace, the hardest and most important step we take is in letting go of our fears and embracing our relationships fully. Sure, living in a monastery or spending time in a ashram may work for some, but the reality for most is quite different. Simply concentrating on ourselves is not enough to achieve authentic inner peace. When our thoughts are wholly for ourselves, we become self-centered and increasingly negative. The key that unlocks our ascension is compassion, not only to ourselves but to those around us. Negative fear-based emotions such as suspicion and envy can only be countered by friendliness and compassion. And as we open ourselves to others and allow our inner light to shine, they may in turn open themselves to us.
Each person must find and travel their own path in the light. There is no single rule or religion that applies to all in our search for inner peace. Those who seek inner peace in the outside world will never be successful in finding it, because inner peace starts and ends with looking to our internal selves and accepting what we find there. Achieving a state of inner peace does not change anything about the world around us, but it does change how we perceive that world. It enables us to let go of our snap judgements and negative energy and approach our lives with serenity and bliss, aware of who we really are.