Finding peace in chaos

In this podcast (episode #562) and blog, I talk about how to find peace amid the chaos of life. 

Every so often, I feel like my peace is threatened, especially when faced with multiple, competing demands at the same time, mixed in with relationship struggles or concern for a loved one. It doesn’t help that there is so much going on in the world around us—it is easy to feel overwhelmed and like everything is a mess! 

As humans, we crave times of peace. Yes, we want answers and solutions, but we also want peace, especially when it feels like everything is falling apart around us. 

Peace during chaos is like fuel. It helps us get you through the darkness. Peace helps us see, not see with our eyes, but with our mind. How? It brings a sense of clarity and wisdom to a situation, which is why I call it fuel. Without fuel or energy from a battery, a car can’t move—it’s stuck. Without a sense of peace, we get stuck.

We experience peace on a nonconscious level before we feel “at peace” physically. In the brain, it shows as nonconscious activity in the deepest, most intelligent and insightful parts of us, before it’s even experienced consciously. Peace on this level also increases coherence between the hemispheres of the brain, helping us function better both mentally and physically.

I find this fascinating and empowering because it means that if we seek out peace first, we are tuning into the depths of who we are and changing the brain and body’s responses accordingly. This helps us develop an expectation mindset that says, “I will be okay. Somehow I will get through this.” 

And, the more we contemplate an expectation like this with our mind, the more likely it is that we will engage in it or make it happen! In fact, just thinking about experiencing peace even while life feels chaotic can shift our perception and even alter our brain and body’s chemistry and structure in a positive direction.

But how can you practice this in your life? Here is a simple exercise to help you set up this expectation of peace:  

  1. When you are in the middle of life’s chaos, visualize a tunnel, the length and darkness of which you can determine based on what you are facing. 
  2. Next, visualize a light at the end. Maybe you have a vision of how you would like things to pan out. Try to imagine this, even if faintly, at the end of the tunnel. As your peace increases over time, so will the clarity of those visions, until one day you find that they have come to fruition!

You can take this exercise to a deeper level by imagining that the tunnel is filled with quicksand and you must navigate your way through it to get to the other side, Indiana Jones style! Think movies in which people fall into quicksand. They get caught and begin sinking. They try to struggle out of the quicksand with rapid and stressful movements, which only makes them sink even more. The only way they manage to escape is through reaching for a vine to pull themselves out, or a friend/companion throwing in a rope that they use to pull themselves out. 

The reason that I like this metaphor is because it serves as a perfect example of what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the chaos around you and within you, where you feel like you are sinking under the pressure of it all. And, just like someone struggling in quicksand in a movie or book reaches for something or someone to help them, you can learn how to navigate the “quicksand” of life and find peace by doing the same: reaching out.

  1. This starts with acknowledging the level of toxic stress that you are under, i.e. what is stealing your peace. You can use this information to assess how you should move forward. What is your “quicksand”?
  2. Next, you need to assess how fast you are sinking, how much of your body is going under and what is around you that you can use to escape. Applying this in your life, ask yourself what you are feeling, saying, or doing when you feel overwhelmed and stuck. What is burying you? Can you ask for help? Can you speak to someone? Can you change something? What can you do to reach out?
  3. Then, take action: what “vines” can you grab onto to keep from sinking? Write down your answers to help organize your thinking. Be as specific as possible. How exactly can you implement these changes in your life? Here are some examples: 
  • Establish clear boundaries to protect your time, energy, and emotional well-being. Don’t let people interrupt you when in a creative flow unless it is an emergency. Learn to say "no". Learn to delegate and practice not feeling guilty when doing so!
  • Prioritize your self-care.
  • Maintain a consistent daily routine that includes exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. Physical health is closely tied to mental and emotional well-being.
  • Take regular breaks from digital devices and social media to disconnect from external chaos and reconnect with yourself.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your feelings and experiences. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with someone you trust can provide comfort and perspective.
  • Participate in relaxation techniques like taking a bath, practicing yoga, or enjoying hobbies that help you unwind.
  • While limiting exposure to negative information is essential, it's also important to stay informed about important events. Find a balanced approach that allows you to stay informed without being overwhelmed.

It is also important to remind yourself that peace does not equal happiness. Finding peace does not always mean the chaos around you will end and that you will be happy. It might just mean that you are able to keep your head above the “quicksand” of life and find time to breathe. Remind yourself that, even if you are not there yet, there will be a time where you are fully out of the quicksand of life.  

In the meantime, treat yourself with kindness and self-compassion. Be patient with yourself during challenging times! Try not to be too hard on yourself for feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Chaos is a part of life, but it does not have to take you out. 

For more on finding peace amid the chaos of life, listen to my podcast (episode #562). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).        

This podcast is sponsored by:   

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Podcast Highlights

3:10 Why peace should be our priority 

4:30 Peace is our “fuel” 

5:37, 9:40 Peace in the mind & brain 

11:07, 20:19 How to find peace amid the chaos of life 

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.

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