By Nadine Saad
We're all on individual and collective journeys of growth, evolution and unfoldment. And with this comes the lessons we learn that move us forward along the way.
2022 brought some of the most significant lessons of any year. Though perhaps it was my ability to see some of the the deeper, more subtle lessons life brings in a way I hadn't appreciated in years before, which opened me up to seeing more pivotal realisations with greater clarity.
Somehow, each one grounded me more deeply into self-awareness, intuition and presence in the moment. Each one grounded me into embodying a deeper, innate sense of peace.
Three lessons had particularly transformational impacts on me:
1. The entirety of life acts as a mirror
For as within, so without.
Everyone and everything in it that triggers you, annoys you, angers you, or upsets you serves as a reflection - offering you a chance to look at what you need to see more clearly within yourself.
Many people don’t like hearing this one, because it’s far more comfortable and convenient to point fingers and assign blame than it is to take an honest, constructive look within.
But each of these reflections presents us with invaluable opportunities to grow and evolve. They invite us to understand our responses more clearly. To see what drives these patterns, what we might need to let go of, and where it might be time to create meaningful change.
I found that this lesson is not just about self-responsibility and self-awareness. It's a surprisingly liberating route to peace. Incidents and situations that would otherwise have caused inner frustration or anguish now point me towards solutions and personal growth.
After all, inner peace is a path, not a destination. It's a way of living.
2. Inner peace is the optimal feeling state
Because it's not just a feeling; it serves as an anchor point.
Without it, happiness, joy and bliss are often conditional feelings of high stimulation that can easily crash. The buzz of achievement tends to be short-lived.
With finding that state of innate peace, happiness has a completely different taste. It sustains itself because I’m no longer deliberately seeking out “positive” feelings and avoiding unpleasant emotions. Happiness arises by itself, so much more readily. And when it doesn't, I give myself more grace and do not judge what I'm feeling.
Presence in the moment is far more easily attained and enjoyed.
I’ve pretty much lost any urge to explain or prove myself. I can let things go so much more easily - though at the same time, healthy boundaries have become second nature. And I have even less room for drama than I did in the past.
I care more about things that really do matter. And less for the things that don’t.
As the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said, "no joy is possible without some peace".
Which brings me to my next point.
3. Your nervous system’s responses are one of the most important things to pay attention to
I genuinely had no idea how much stress and anxiety my nervous system was holding onto until I learned to tune into it in the past year.
Regulating my nervous system and de-conditioning fight-or-flight responses is still a work in progress, but it's making the world of difference.
We do need our survival responses for moments of real danger. But we've become so used to situations of high stress and anxiety that most of us don't recognise when we experience the same responses to issues that are not life-threatening, like deadlines, money concerns and difficult conversations.
Notice how you respond when faced with a stressful, unpleasant or worrying situation. How is your body reacting? Ask yourself what this might be trying to tell you.
Don't ignore the aches, pains, migraines, digestive issues and other physical symptoms of tension if and when they arise.
Unclench your jaw, soften your shoulders, neck and tongue, and breathe as deeply as you can into your belly.
Take the time to slow down, pay attention to your responses and look for helpful tools that support you to get into a calmer, more peaceful state. You can start with the easy-to-follow breathing technique I've shared here.
In the meantime, I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year. May it support you to find more peace within.