I just returned from a vacation in Key West and as a friend of mine once remarked, I felt totally relaxed the moment my feet hit the tarmac at the airport. There’s just something in the air there. Whatever worries or concerns you had when you left your city of origin seem to dissipate like the morning fog upon your arrival. It got me wondering:
Is it possible to enjoy the same type of tranquility in everyday life? How do we find inner peace when the kids need to be readied for school, when our demanding job beckons, when we’re dealing with the constant buzz and disruptions of the modern world?
As often happens when we put a question out to the universe, an answer appears. I stumbled across it in a story by Maria Popova, who writes an eclectic newsletter called Brain Pickings. For those looking for inner peace, she has the following recommendation:
We need to “build pockets of stillness” into our lives. There are places of respite from our everyday struggles, that become part of our daily routine. In Popova’s words, we need to “Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular.”
To me this means, making the clock our ally by carving out specific moments in the day where we can escape from the visual and auditory noise of life. When I was in Key West, or when any of us are on vacation, these moments come more naturally. But when we are participating in everyday life, we need to make time for them. Because when we can slow down the world around us, it has a calming, soothing effect on our souls.
This means ditching the digital devices, because during these moments no checking messages or social media is allowed. It means separating ourselves from our everyday reality and retreating into a space that is calm and still. And what we do in this space, our personal pocket of stillness, is totally up to us.
Popova suggests we use the time to daydream, stressing that “there is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom.” She believes that “the best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations.”
She also suggests paying close attention to something I haven’t discussed before sleep. In our go-go world, it always seems like sleep is something we shortchange ourselves on. We can’t find the time we need during the day, so we stay up-late—or set the alarm clock at an extra early hour. And Popova believes that is to our detriment:
Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods.
To set a good example, as soon as I finish editing this story, I’m going to find my own pocket of stillness. I will lie down on a comfortable sofa. I’ll daydream for a bit. I’ll move on to some rhythmic breathing. And then, after a short nap, I’ll be more than ready for whatever the rest of the day brings my way.