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By Wanda Marie
The morning of October 21, 1995, I awakened in complete despair. My head was spinning as I could not believe that on this day I had turned 40. My life was flashing before my eyes. I could see for the first time that I had never truly been happy. There seemed to always be something I allowed to rob me of my inner peace.
I believe that life carries us to higher dimensions of ourselves in an invisible vehicle with four pillars of life, much like an automobile with four tires. One tire would be labeled health, representing our physical wellbeing. Another tire would be labeled wealth, which would represent our mental mind and creative capacities. The third tire would be labeled love, to represent our emotional body of affairs. And we have the fourth tire called happiness, representing our ability to grow, connect, and have a sense of inner peace.
“You can decide right now that you are choosing peace of mind regardless of what’s going on in your life.”
Every year on my birthday, I have made it a practice to revisit the past year and see how well I had lived up to my own expectations. Had I reached the goals I had set for myself? Was my life rolling along smoothly? On this particular birthday, I had a rude awakening. I realized that while I had done great each year, according to my own expectations, I wasn’t setting high enough standards for myself in order to be totally happy. I was compartmentalizing my life and would reach goals in certain areas, so there was always something deflating one of my tires. If the money was flowing in, the relationship had problems. If the relationship was going smoothly, there would be health issues. Always drama, and never peace.
I decided this time I would really stretch, so rather than set a goal for the year, I would set a goal for a lifetime. The goal was to find inner peace and be happy. To be happy regardless of what was going on in my life. To be at peace with myself and the world around me. I decided that from that day forward NOTHING would rob me of my happiness.
Ten days after making this pledge to be happy, the ultimate test arrived. My mother passed away suddenly. She was not ill and was only sixty-six years young. What a blow to my system. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. How do you remain rooted in happiness when your best friend, nurturer, cheerleader, healer, teacher suddenly abandons you? How do you find happiness in the face of loss? Where is the inner peace?
I remained strong for my grandmother. We made all the necessary arrangements and held up as best we could. While in the background of my mind, the question kept repeating itself. How do you find happiness during your darkest days? How do you find inner peace when you feel totally depressed?
Once the funeral was over and everything was calm, I became very still. For days I would sit and reflect, meditate, cry, journal. I was upset with my mom, with myself, with God, with the world. I demanded to know if happiness was real – if inner peace was possible. A few weeks passed as I embarked upon this inner journey. As I emerged from the stillness and darkness to face the world again, I realized that the stillness itself was what I had been searching for. The stillness was the doorway to inner peace and happiness. But I had to be slammed into it and through it in order to really get it.
In that place of stillness, which can seem very dark because you are alone, I was just being with me, with my thoughts, my fears, my dreams, and I was freer and happier than I had ever been before. So my mother and greatest teacher, left me with yet another lesson. Her final gift to me was to send me into deep stillness, the place where peace and happiness reside.
There is a place within each of us that calls to us to go deeper. In that place of deep, you will find inner peace. With inner peace comes a joy so delightful that nothing can move you. This inner peace and pure joy equal happiness.
As a life coach and teacher, I set out to teach my clients and students how to find their own level of happiness and inner peace. I taught classes on strategies for embracing inner peace, and those lessons formed themselves into a book.
Since my mom’s passing in 1995, my life had been rolling along quite smoothly. I had been completely rooted in the tools and principles for leading a peaceful, balanced and happy life. On May 15, 2007, my new book, Living Inner Peace: A Personal Guide to Greater Happiness, was completed and ready to be shipped off to the printers. For moral support, I handed a hard copy of the manuscript to my business associate, who was also a sister-friend, cheerleader, nurturer, and teacher for me. That same evening, before she arrived home, she collapsed and died of heart failure. Yes, she was suddenly gone. The transcript of the book lay in the back seat of her car. Once again, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.
However, this time, instead of feeling abandoned, I felt embraced. The inner peace I had cultivated over the years carried me. The true happiness I feel within my spirit runs so deep that I know, beyond all doubt, that all is well, no matter what happens, and no matter how it looks, all is well.
My definition of inner peace is finding that sacred space deep inside of you where regardless of circumstances, you cannot be moved. No matter what happened in your past (shame or guilt), no matter about current circumstances, or future predictions, you are okay, you can breathe, you are safe. We often experience brief visits to that sacred space deep within. You can have inner peace at any given time; it’s a choice. You can decide right now that you are choosing peace of mind regardless of what’s going on in your life. You can take a deep cleansing breath in and blow out all the stress that’s got you thinking life is hard, or the situation you are in is too difficult to bear. Change your mind and you change your experience.
Even if you’re suffering from depression, you can make a different choice. You can decide that today, you are going to think different thoughts. You have to consciously make the choice to change your life, to find inner peace, to be a happier person. Change your physiology. Studies have shown that it’s difficult to feel depressed when you are standing tall, looking upward and smiling. Don’t slouch, become aware of when you’re frowning, and turn it into a smile. Stand in gratitude for what is working in your life, and stop focusing on what’s not working. If you suffer from a chemical imbalance, get meds. If you are otherwise healthy and simply depressed, instead of medication, try meditation! Do what successful people do, hire a life coach!
Before you can experience inner peace and happiness in an ongoing way, you have to give yourself permission to do so. Most people feel guilty when they are in joy and those around them may be suffering. It requires courage to be free from emotional pain and live in daily bliss regardless of circumstances. Are you a courageous woman? If so, I want to share with you my daily ritual for experiencing more inner peace and happiness so that when life takes you on a bumpy ride, your tires remain fully inflated and balanced at all times.
1. Pray: Each morning, before my feet hit the floor I pray for peace of mind for myself and everyone around me. Whatever your religious beliefs, you must believe in something bigger than your ego or you will never have lasting inner peace.
2. Affirm the Best: Whenever I’m facing any type of challenge, in order to keep my mind from diving into the pool of fear and negativity, I create a positive statement with the end result I want to see. For example, if I have to give a speech and I’m a little nervous, my self-talk would be something like, “I am grateful for the opportunity to present this evening, and I affirm that everyone is open and receptive and take exactly what they need.” Then I let it go.
3. Imagine: Every night prior to sleep, I use my imagination to visualize what I want to see expressed in my personal life, or in the world at large. For example, if I am bothered by what has occurred on the news that day, I will imagine a world that reflects the opposite. This brings about incredible inner peace.
4. Meditate: Every day it is important to take 10 to 15 minutes to be still. Wisdom lies deep within us, but it will not fight to be heard. You must be willing to stop and listen. Go into silence. Ask for guidance, be still and listen. Even if I have no questions, I find great wisdom in stillness.
5. Journal: After sitting in silence, I find it very therapeutic to journal any insights, thoughts or ideas that have come into my awareness. I also use journaling as a focusing tool for success.
6. Give: This is something I do every day without fail. I consciously give something to someone, even if it’s just a smile. I know that by giving, I am also opening myself to receive, and this exchange of energy creates a well of inner peace. It is our collective ability and willingness to give that will change our lives and transform the planet.
These are the six tools I use on a daily basis to maintain inner peace and balance in my life and experience more happiness in my world. I hope that you will try them on for size. Even if you just use one tool a day, your level of inner peace will be multiplied. Imagine how wonderful your life would be if you were to use more than just one of these tools.
In addition to the six basic tools above, there are seven advanced principles designed to help you take charge of your life. These tools and principles are covered in greater detail in the book, Living Inner Peace: A Personal Guide to Greater Happiness. If you are ready for change, feel free to contact the Foundation for Living Inner Peace for a free personal consultation. Visit www.LivingInnerPeace.org to learn more.
Wanda Marie is the author of Living Inner Peace: A Personal Guide to Greater Happiness, and founder and director of The Foundation for Living Inner Peace, a nonprofit organization. Wanda is committed to helping women heal their lives and live their dreams. She is a certified master coach with a private practice in Asheville NC, and is founder of the Queen Academy, offering affordable/donation-based online learning for women over 40 looking to start their own business. Visit www.wandamarie.com and www.queenacademy.com.
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