I’ve been thinking a lot about peace lately. I didn’t know I was thinking about “peace” exactly until I read an Instagram post by yoga girl. She was talking about what a good life entails. Peace, was her answer.
It’s not a word I think of often, in fact it’s always seemed somewhat unattainable. I associate the sentiment with history’s greats, like Gandhi or Buddha. Lately though, I’ve taken on a more practical application and openness to peace.
Peace does not involve a complicated formula, and it isn’t outside the bounds of our lives.
Living truthfully and earnestly is where it starts. Knowing the life you desire, putting those intentions out into the universe and working towards them. It's a formula we're all pretty familiar with. If you browse online, it’s been packaged as “manifesting”, “the secret” even as simple as the “power of the mind”. It’s all the same name for the same process, which starts from within.
Here in New Smyrna, which sits quietly on the east coast of Florida, I feel an immense sense of stillness. The flat, wet sand beneath my feet is solid. I like the feeling of the earth firmly supporting me, but I also like the unpredictable nature of the water that replenishes it. It’s a simple balance, much like the formula to peace. But it is here that I become familiar with an added layer to reaching inner harmony, living purposefully.
Putting just a little more thought into each action you take, even if it is as small as making your experience in the shower a serene one. I’m learning that more than following the formula, it is consistent awareness that creates peace.
What I mean to say is, taking stock over every single thing you do and bring into your life. I thought about this as I woke up and sipped my glass of lemon water. The sun came in through the sky light in our cabin rental, illuminating all the ocean-themed trinkets and decorations. I walked to the kitchen to pour my glass, being very aware of my movements and not putting any extra force than necessary. I noticed the cold tile against my bare feet, the simple glass cup and how the water reflected an interesting hue inside it.
I observed the backyard view and each little pebble that contributed to it. I sat down on the couch, all the while keenly aware of my spine and back muscles. The exact little aches. I hardly pay attention to this degree. Imagine living like this always, was this the path to peace?
Minimalism is more than living with less, it is taking a simple and careful approach to what you consume. This is everything from actual material goods, to your daily reads, friendships, conversations– even radio stations.
It takes an examination at every level of your existence in order to flesh out the toxins, much like the warm lemon water in my hands.
It was then that I knew there was more to achieving peace. Knowing what you desire and bringing those desires to life is not where it ends. “The Secret” doesn’t mean much if you’re chasing more toxic consumption, or desires that satiate self doubt and the need for more stuff. It’s also useless to manifest a dream life when you’re not paying attention to each and every molecule of who you are and what you do. If you don’t try to make yourself better, you will never find peace even if you realize all your goals.
After careful consideration of all these thoughts, I spent my day living from this analytical, purposeful mindset. It made all the difference in experiencing our visit. We didn't over consume anything or force ourselves to stay out late because we were visiting a new place. Walking slower allowed us to appreciate simple details, like the underwater scene someone painted on a fire hydrant, an object most people pass by without noticing. Today, I stopped and took in the craftsmanship of buildings, hand-written signs, even yard sales.
It was a high of its own being so attuned and at one with myself in relation to our surroundings. Before we went to out to dinner, we both had a quick drink at a local spot. We opted to sit outside in its front patio area, which lent itself nicely to a view of New Smyrna’s main road, Flagler Avenue. Here, we saw all sorts of happy people passing by. I ordered a glass of red wine and savored each sip. The velvety liquid tingled the sides of my tongue and slowly its effects took way. I too felt like I was swaying with the gentle east coast breeze. I didn’t even finish my glass, nor was I tempted to. This minimalistic approach made me feel like I’d had my fill and didn’t need to consume more just because we’d purchased it.
I felt such contentment walking through that road. It was a strange dichotomy, but I felt free, as if nothing could affect us, and yet we were so connected to everything around us. I understood in that moment what peace could be. It comes from within, separate from any wealth, status– even life partner. It’s not trying to be someone else– it's just being.
It’s appreciating every morsel of your life while carefully curating its contents. Treating yourself as a painter with a sacred canvas, approaching what goes into the image with the most discerning of eyes.