Peaceful, the word I’ve chosen for this year, and many words with similar meaning – tranquility, serenity, calm – have a gentle sound, unlike the clamour and chaos of the past two years. They’re easy on our ears and hearts. 2020 and 2021, years of epidemic, pandemic and COVID-19, have also been years of great personal pain and distress for many individuals and families.
For most people I know, the past two years also have been a time of learning new ways to be and different ways to do things. The world has changed forever and we’ve changed with it. Hopefully we have become more resilient and that we can be peaceful, no matter what challenges we face in 2022.
I thought it might be good to focus on peace as a way to traverse 2022 smoothly, regardless of its challenges.. They say that inner peace doesn’t depend on what is happening around us but on how we prepare ourselves.
Other years, other words
For over thirty years, I’ve chosen a word for the year and tried to live by it. Mostly I’ve chosen words listed as ‘virtues’. Always the words called for less ‘doing’ and more ‘being’. Sometimes I’ve had fun, but other years have been disastrous. When I shared my word with friends, the benefits seemed to double.
One year I chose ‘playful’ and planned many activities that I enjoyed. I laughed more, played more, worried less. My year of ‘abundance’ taught me how much I like to live simply. When I enjoyed what I had without wanting more, my life felt full of good things.
In 2019, my word was ‘serenity’. Here’s a link to the blog: Serenity a state of calm, peacefulness and poise. At the beginning of 2020, I chose ‘self-care’. You can read about it at Self-care, my word for 2020. It could be yours too.
Peaceful and serenity have much in common, but I still have lots to learn about both. I associate serenity with certain striving to accept, to change and acknowledge the difference. Peacefulness seems more a gentle state of being..
Practising being peaceful
Choosing a word for a year means also experimenting and learning.. Ideas change as we learn new ways of thinking and being.. Here are some of the ideas I plan to start with. The list is a sort of pep talk to myself.
Stop what you are doing and breathe. Enjoy the sensation of air going in and out of your lungs (even through a mask!) Take a few deep breaths and notice how much more relaxed you feel. Even one good thoughtful breath can help to settle the mind and body when you’re tense, anxious, angry or too busy. (For more information about breathing and simple breathing exercises, click here)
That needs no explanation. Smiling makes everyone feel better and smiling can be even more contagious than any virus.
Do one thing at a time
Many of us think multi-tasking makes us efficient. But switching between tasks takes up time and leads to mistakes. Doing one thing at a time creates a sense of calm.Paying attention to one thing, being aware, makes us peaceful.
Live in the present
We can’t change the past, with its joys and satisfactions, its pain and disappointment, but we can gently let it go. The future is out of our control. We can’t see what’s coming and worrying won’t help. We can live fulfilled, peaceful lives in the present moment.
Be mindful of what you are doing
Spend some time every day being deliberately aware of the ordinary work you perform. Note your response to a simple task like washing up, hanging out laundry or tidying your desk. Become fully immersed in what you are doing. Focus on your movements while you prepare a meal. Notice how that feels.
Exercise and notice how you move
Exercise regularly, in nature whenever possible. Pay attention to how you walk, run, dance, exercise. Note how your body moves in space. Be aware of how peaceful you can be if you focus on movement. Notice the sounds around you as you exercise or walk to pick up the kids from school or to the shops.
Create a peaceful place for yourself
This might be a whole house or a little space you can call your own. It might mean decluttering or simplifying the space and only including objects that make you peaceful and happy.
This is a big one for me. But if I’m serious about being peaceful, I need to stop putting things off. Maybe it also means being less ambitious, not striving for perfection, sorting out what’s important.
Provide space from social media
Social media is designed to demand our attention. Put your phone away for a little while, even half and hour, every day. Allow yourself the peaceful feeling of being without constant stimulation. Sleep in a room without access to social media to improve the quality of your sleep.
Make time to relax, unwind
Pray or meditate regularly. Make or listen to music. Be creative: make something – a meal, a picture, a flower arrangement. Take time to play, relax and unwind. There’s something very appealing about the command to take a day off once a week: ‘To make holy the Sabbath day.’
Being peaceful, what next?
It will take me a year to get to the bottom of the list I’ve created, and that’s fine. There are still a lot of days left in the year. I’m not sure what the next steps towards being peaceful might be. But I’d love to read what you think would help. Please leave a comment and share your ideas.
Happy New Year
I wish my readers a 2022 full of peace and joy.