“The only peace is the peace that you find within yourself and that lives within the quiet corners of your soul.”
When I was in my thirties peace was almost entirely absent from my daily life. Juggling a corporate career, motherhood and childcare of two small boys under the tender age of 5 I struggled to maintain the ever elusive work life balance that the magazines of the time assured us was possible.
“You can have it all”
“You can have it all” they proclaimed. And I believed that it must be so and kept on striving and beating myself up for not achieving it. I had an ever present anxiety that I wasn’t doing a good enough job at anything. I would end each day feeling mentally exhausted, emotionally unfulfilled and physically drained – and feeling guilty. Not being good enough at anything and spreading myself too thinly. Looking after the needs of others and ignoring my own well -being to the extent that each year I would get a mystery virus which happened to arrive during a week’s holiday from work. I was earning a lot of money, living in a beautiful 4 bedroom detached new home, had 2 gorgeous toddlers, in a steady marriage and for anyone on the outside looking in they might think that I “had it all.” There was however a sub text to the proclamation of “You can have it all” and it reads something like;
“You can have it all – at a cost.”
There were of course moments of peace such as when I held my babies first thing in the morning or last thing before sleep. When I played and laughed with my sons at weekends. When I swam. When I snuggled up to my husband and let go of the worries. And when I knew with every cell of my being that I had done a good job on a project or when a manager I had coached had had a breakthrough moment of clarity, understanding and self- acceptance. In those moments I glowed. Those moments were golden.
I was on auto-pilot. I had no space to think.
There was never enough time and I wasn’t present enough to enjoy the time there was. I reduced my hours from 5 days to 3 days a week and got a little more peace by seeing my sons for 2 extra days. I positively basked in that peace for 2 years, enjoying them and a renewed sense of focus in my career. I began to actively think about and seek more peace. I liked the flavour and texture of peace. And now I was also seeking purpose and more meaning.
And so I left my corporate career to set up my own coaching practice and to spend even more time with my sons. I thought at the time that it was all about balance. In hindsight I can see that I knew that something was missing. This “hole” was the cause of my lack of peace.
The peace I was seeking was there all along. I was looking in all the wrong places.
I soon grew to realise that peace actually wasn’t about my external circumstances. Now, I was mentally under-stimulated, emotionally fulfilled but physically exhausted. I simplified our home environment. I cleared out clutter, painted walls white, learned to meditate and qualified as a Reiki Seichem Master. I taught it for a while too. We moved from the Hertfordshire suburbs to the beauty of the West Sussex countryside. I established a successful coaching practice. I played outdoors with my sons and created time for them to have play days, sleepovers and to indulge their hobbies and activities.
All of the above helped however there was still something missing.
I was missing. I hadn’t showed up yet. I still wasn’t present.
I realised I was still running my life meeting other people’s needs, values and expectations. No peace to be had in doing that. I was still striving. Constantly looking for “what next?” and “what else?” It took me quite some time to realise that I was subjugating my own needs for the sake of others. It was a slow dawning and a gradual unfolding. And, yes, of course, as a mother you have to put your young children’s needs first. They are a high priority. Not at the cost of our own health and well- being though.
If we are running on “empty,” we have nothing left to give.
New clients arrive with a plethora of issues that they want to resolve and beneath the issues what I often find is a lack of peace, self- love and presence.
We can take ourselves off on holiday but unless our physical, emotional, mental and soulful selves are at peace then there will be a limit as to how much peace we can access amidst beauty and peaceful space.
So, where is peace to be found then? Look within.
For me, it has been a combination of;
Accepting that life unfolds. It’s a process. It can’t be second guessed, It has to be experienced and felt. Pain comes when I resisted what life has for me. Peace arrives in the guise of acceptance, letting go and embracing what is.
Continuing to open to love, no matter what. When we close our hearts to a person or a situation we close it for ourselves too and for any hope of a fulfilling relationship with others too.
Accepting that I always get what I need even if it isn’t always what I want.
Being gentle with myself and learning how to meet my own needs and to love myself in every situation whilst taking the action I need to take
And trusting that things generally work out for the best even when it feels as dark as it can get.
For me, one definition of peace is “an absence of conflict.” What we resist persists, so let it go and do what brings peace. Peace starts with each of us, each choice we make in how we think, how we feel and how we treat each other. Peace is achievable. One thought, one choice, one action at a time.
I wish you peace.
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Moriah Ama Hope