A Minimalist’s Guide to Finding Inner Peace
Open your hands and let everything fall.
If you’re anything like me, you often feel as if you’re at war — trying desperately to find a sense of peace.
You breathe. You meditate. You do all the things just to keep some semblance of calm. Sometimes you feel better, sometimes you don’t.
Why? Maybe you’re looking for peace in the wrong place.
You see, peace is not something that you can find externally. It’s not something you can buy or be gifted. Peace is your inner reality unburdened and freed from concern. It’s something you already have — something you’ve always had.
The minimalist’s approach to finding inner peace is about focusing on what you already have (peace) and removing all the other things that are piled up around it.
It’s not about seeking things to give you peace. It’s about getting rid of everything you have that’s stealing your experience of peace.
It’s about surrendering everything. Let me explain and then I’ll tell you about a minimalist technique that helps me to realize and recover my peace.
You experience stress, worry, and anxiety when you’re at war with life — gripping tightly to things you’re scared to lose: your job, your health, your success, your loved ones.
This is normal. It’s fear; and it’s the main enemy of your peace. But although it’s normal, fear is not natural. The vast majority of fears are learned — in fact, the only fears you were born with are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.
The fears you’re facing today were taught to you. They are not natural.
Peace, on the other hand, is not normal — many of us rarely experience it. But, unlike fear, it is natural. No one had to teach you how to feel peace when you were a baby nestled in your mother’s arms or growing in her womb.
You’ve learned to fear, which means it’s possible to unlearn it and get rid of it. You didn’t have to learn peace. It’s a part of who you are, which means you can remember it and reawaken it.
Finding your peace happens as you surrender your fear.
In order to “find” peace, you need only to do away with all the burdens and fears that have built up over and around your peace — cutting you off from experiencing it. In this minimalist process, you need not add anything. You need only to surrender everything.
There are techniques that can help you with this. Mindfulness meditation has helped me to identify my toxic, frantic thoughts and caused them to lose some of their power. Likewise, seeing a psychotherapist helped me to clarify my fears and face them. For many people, prescription medication and supplements help to relieve enough symptoms to allow the brain to process deeper emotional issues.
These techniques and formulations are necessary lifesavers for many of us. Serious mental health issues are not things you just get over. However, this doesn’t mean that these things will bring you peace because peace is remembered — it’s not found, bought, or received.
I know. That sounds like one of those things that’s super simple to say and extremely difficult to do. But understanding this point — that peace is found by surrendering everything — is the first step to “finding” inner peace.
Why? Because frantically looking for something that can’t be found will only increase your stress and worry — further ingraining your anxiety.
It’s not about the technique itself as much as it’s about how and why you’re pursuing that technique — what you’re expecting to get from it. And it’s that expectation that can start you down the road to stress and suffering.
“Expectations destroy our peace of mind. They are future disappointments, planned out in advance.”
— Elizabeth George
This is why surrender is so important, and why surrendering everything also means surrendering your search for peace. As we remove our expectations from life, we get closer to the inner peace that’s always been ours to have.
The ‘Open Hands’ Visualization Technique
Although no technique can truly give you peace, any technique that helps you to surrender is worth its weight in gold.
There’s a practice I often do when I feel stressed. My studies of religion, my own spiritual experiences, and lesson from life have taught me that the key to “finding” peace is surrendering everything.
Here’s how the simple visualization technique works:
Begin in a quiet place where you can express yourself. Make fists out of your two hands and ask yourself this question: “What am I holding onto right now that I’m scared of losing or that I just have to have?” Visualize these things within your clenched fists.
Now, focus on one thing at a time. Let’s say it’s your job. You’ve been anxious about losing it. Over the last few weeks, you’ve become certain that your boss is unhappy with you. You’ve read every email and social interaction with her as evidence of your impending termination.
Focus on this fear of losing your job as if it’s clenched within your fists. And, if you’re ready and able, acknowledge that your anxiety cannot save your job. Now open your hands so that your “job” is sitting in your open palms.
When you feel ready, surrender your job by turning your hands over and letting it fall away — leaving your hands open and empty. You may feel an immediate sense of relief, of calm — allowing you to sense a return to the peace that is within you.
This technique reminds you in clear, visual terms that what stands in the way of your peace are all the things you’re holding onto. You remember and reawaken your innate peace when you get rid of everything you’re fighting for and fighting against.
Peace is your inner reality unburdened and freed from concern, and therefore you need not look for it in external things. In fact, you shouldn’t because you’ll never find it there.
On the path to “finding” peace, less is more. You need only to remember and reawaken it by surrendering everything that’s covered it up. It’s letting life win. It’s stopping the struggle and raising the white flag.
The minimalist’s guide to finding inner peace is about surrounding everything. And any technique that helps you to surrender is a technique you should practice.
Life is best lived with open hands. When we close them into fists and try to control life and fight our circumstances, we begin to suffer. It’s not easy, and it will probably happen little by little, but opening your hands and letting everything fall is the only way to find peace, your peace.