Jun. 14th, 2020
D'ya like the alliteration in the title? Haha.
"Blossoming": A Poem
The seed has been there from the start
It was you who planted it in my heart
But it took the sun to make it
Bloom for true
I reach my hands toward the sky and remember
All that I thought it would be better to forget
And I can feel myself begin to grow
and I can feel the warmth of an inner glow
And I know my life's not over yet
Rose colored glasses tend to crack
With the pressure of the past
But with proper care they can be mended
The glass half empty again upended
I stretch on my tiptoes, my head held high
Fill my memory with good things, like daisies and hot chai
I look back at how much I've grown
Take shelter in my inner glow
And if there's one thing that I know
I know my life's not over yet
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
What is peace? Is it a state of non-war or a spirit of harmony? Is it the prescence of something, or lack thereof?
What is peace? Is peace an internal way of being or an external situation? Is peace quiet and personal or social and vibrant?
What is peace?
We're all sick of the fighting - right? We're ready for something new. What humans have been looking for since...forever.
Much like the two fingered V of the peace sign, there are two types of peace - inner and outer. Today, we will discuss the search for inner peace, next week, the bigger goal of...dunh dunh dunh...world peace.
And not just in a vaguely spiritual way. We're going to be practical.
PRACTICAL PATH to PERSONAL PEACE
To take up the fight for peace between others, you have to start finding it within yourself. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup!
For me, peace means growth. It means allowing yourself to change. And it means accepting those changes with grace. Harder than it sounds, I know, but it isn't impossible.
And have patience with yourself! You might spend your entire life on this path. That's okay. Rome wasn't built in a day, and making peace with yourself is probably harder. Especially in this chaotic world of blue light and hashtags.
Here are six practical tips to allow yourself space to grow (backed by science!!!):
#1) Quiet time + getting enough quality sleep
Here's a tip that seems easy but isn't really: take 2 minutes of silence, 4 times a day. I got this from the devotional Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day by Peter Scazzero. He talks about silence fostering a healthy relationship with God:
"We stop our activity and turn our attention to the Living God. We hear the words of the Psalmist to 'Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7)' and 'Be still and know that I am God,' (Psalm 46:10). We choose to enter into awareness of God's prescence and rest there in his love. That choice alone is no small feat."
For folk of every religion throughout the ages, a time of silence + stillness has been intregral to their spiritual practice. Since taking 8 minutes of silence a day, I have found myself living more joyfully, connected more to my religion, and felt less stressed.
Even if you aren't religious, silence still has a multitude of benefits. According to Atalanta Beaumont of Psychology Today...
"Silence has been found to stimulate brain growth: In 2013, a study into brain structure and function found that...silence could result in the creation of new brain cells in the area of our brains linked to learning and recall."
Pretty cool, huh? And here's another thing...
"Periods of silence throughout the day enhance sleep and lessen insomnia."
Which moves me to part B of point #1. To live peacefully, you have to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep affects just about everything about your body and mind.
Sleepy people are more likely to take risks, get injured, or become ill. If you are sleep-deprived, in the short term you'll feel uber-stressed, tired and/or hyper, and actually, slightly drunk. Lack of sleep has the same affects as a .10% level of blood alcohol.
If you're interested, here is a video with tips about how exactly to catch those precious Z's:
Craft yourself a bedtime routine with relaxing activities, try to go to bed around the same time every night, and if you need it, Melatonin can help. Melatonin is a natural hormone created by your body that says, "Welp, time to sleep now." Melatonin supplements are safe and non-habit forming pills/gummies/tablets that make it easier to set your internal clock to your own preferred schedule.
Eesh, that kinda reads like an ad. I'm not, like, sponsored by Melatonin or anything. When your blog gets about 14 views you ain't getting any corporate attention 😂. I've just found Melatonin supplements to be a lifesaver a lot of the time, and wanna share the LOVE!
#2) Social interaction
Yes, I know. We're supposed to be social distancing. But as you know, in the internet age it isn't impossible to connect with the people that you love.
Regular, positive social interaction boosts mental health, lowers dementia risk, and increases lifespan. A strong social network is one of the greatest indicators of how long a person will live. When we were cavemen, our social standing indicated whether we'd get bashed over the head. Now, it means, as inherently social creatures, we're happier when we're together.
Introverts, don't despair. This is true for you too. Although you (and I - I am also an introvert) function at our best when we get ample alone time, we need our fellow humans too. Make sure to carve out some space to say hello to your friends and family.
It doesn't take a lot! How about right now? Take a second to send that text you've been meaning to for a while. You won't regret it.
#4) Nature! (+movement)
GUYS!! These 2 things are some of the most important aspects to mental health, inner peace and creativity. There is so much evidence to support this, but unfortunately I can only reference some of it.
Ever since I was a very small child, my best ideas were inspired by nature. My favorite hobby was to take long, solitary walks in my own backyard, letting nature stir up the pot of my imagination. It never failed to shake things up.
The outdoors have always refreshed and revived me. I think it's because we humans, animals that we are, belong out there under the open sky and not suffocating under artificial lights. As my friend Chloe once aptly put it, indoor lighting is "fake happiness."
TRUE HAPPINESS! I took these pictures at Canterbury Park on a looong walk. It was rainy, the creek was wayy overflowing, and I LOVED it.
An article from Healthline says,
"Being indoors most of the time or looking at a computer or smartphone are relatively new activities for humans and our ancestors, especially compared to the millions of years we spent outside...
It just makes sense that given...how human beings are part of nature — that we would do better when we aren’t away from it.”
Nature is not just the most beautiful and serene place on earth. Mindfully engaging with nature also comes with a host of health benefits, physical and mental.
I know this from personal experience. The less time I spend in nature and the more I spend on screens, as often happens in heckish Midwestern summer/winter, the more stressed and unhappy I become.
Nature is my soul. It's my peace and my happy place.
Being out in nature, moving in some way (biking, skating, running, walking, etc.) and listening to music is my favorite combination. It never fails to bring a lil' peace + joy into my day.
Okay, time for Point 4, Part B - movement.
I'm sure you all have heard by now a million times about the physical health benefits of exercise, so I won't bother. But have you heard about mental?!
Exercise kicks up dopamine, which helps with depression and anxiety. Certain types of exercise, like yoga, aid in mindfulness and of course, peace.
Note: compulsive exercise, which is exercise that does more harm than good, has been recognized by the National Eating Disorders Association. Here's a link that describes the symptoms:
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/general-information/compulsive-exercise And remember, although exercise has amazing mental and physical benefits, so does rest. It's always okay to take a break - and make sure you're exercising for the right reasons. Exercise that aids mental peace is motivated by love, not hate.
I am big fan of running. It just makes me happy 😊. Not everyone likes to run, though. Find what works for you, and what you enjoy. That's the only way you'll be able to stick to it.
My daily yoga practice, motivated by love, has made me physically and mentally stronger. Here is a video I LOVE and use whenever I feel sore or in need of a stretch.
#5) Reading and Writing
I've already done a whole darn post on how great reading is. In it, I wrote:
"Books have had an immeasurable impact on my own life and my art. I draw inspiration, joy and strength from their words. If I hadn’t first learned to love reading, I would never be a writer today. My creative energy is replenished by basking in the work of others. I admire their art and seek to create something that could do for others what has been done for me. " - https://aval2359.wixsite.com/storywell/post/you-are-what-you-read
Reading is one of the best ways to fortify your mind. As well, writing can bring inner peace by providing an outlet to express your emotions.
#6) 'Joie de vivre'
"Joie de vivre" is a French phrase j'adore. It means "zest for life".
Joie de vivre can be seen as a comprehensive joy that encompasses everything in life. It's the simple delight of being ALIVE.
If you find excitement just by existing, you're doing something right. When you have that joie de vivre, peace will follow. Plus, it's a French term. What could be better than that?
I might write a post focusing on "joie de vivre" soon. Tell me in the comments if you would like that!
TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR WHAT YOU CAN DO TO AID OUTER/SOCIAL PEACE
We live in a world that gets more divided every day. From sharp political boundaries to barb-tongued social media flame slingers, it seems nobody cares about unity anymore, only about being right.
In next week's post, we'll learn how we can take our newfound inner peace, and take it to the world at large. And while this week focused on science, next week we'll also discuss peace's history.
So good luck, and may peace and joy find you always.