What is spiritual peace and how do we attain it? The word ‘spiritual’ is from the Latin spiritus, meaning ‘of breath’. Peace is ‘freedom from disquieting thoughts’. Spiritual peace therefore means ‘breath that is free from disquieting thoughts’.
Of all the breaths you take each minute, how many are free from disquieting thoughts?
Our lack of spiritual peace
“The average person has 2,000 to 3,000 thoughts a day. 60 percent of the these are in chaos. The superstar athlete has only 1,100 to 1,300 thoughts a day. They eliminate worry, envy, jealousy, embarrassment and anger. The superstar thinks a lot less and holds a thought longer.” – Performance coach Jim Fannin
Using Jim Fannin’s description of an athletic superstar, we can be our own spiritual superstars by doing two things:
- Think a lot less
- Hold a thought longer
How to think a lot less
How do we go from 3,000 thoughts a day to less than half of that? Since about half our thoughts are of the negative, chaotic, or disquieting kind, we can start by eliminating these.
This doesn’t we become ‘slow’ or limited mentally. In fact, it’s the opposite. By choosing to think a lot less, we are exercising more mastery over our minds and spirits than a person who has no control over their thoughts at all.
Here are a few ways to reduce the number of thoughts going through our minds each day:
1. “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
By controlling our tongue, we can discipline our thoughts. Try this for just one day. I did, and that day I hardly spoke at all! If you think about people who are spiritual masters, you’ll probably find that they speak little, and when they do they speak gently.
2. Stop watching TV
TV bombards our minds with an endless stream of input, most of which is not positive. I kicked the TV habit years ago and it did wonders for my happiness. And I’ve never heard of any spiritual master who spends a lot of time watching TV.
3. Be still for 10 minutes a day
This is a very simple form of meditation in which you just have to sit still for about 10 minutes a day. When you find a thought floating into your mind, observe it from a distance and let it float out again. One easy way to have a still mind to to light a candle and watch the flame. The mind can hold only one idea at a time. So when it’s focused on the dancing light, other thoughts are less likely to intrude.
How to hold a thought longer
Once we’ve halved the number of thoughts we have by eliminating the negative half, we need hold the remaining positive thoughts longer. Tthese are practical ways to do that.
1. Read and reflect
In some religious traditions like the lectio divina, we are taught to read a passage from Scripture and pause to reflect on what that means to us. I’ve used this method when reading secular works like novels, autobiographies, or newspapers. You can pause any time to reflect on what you’ve just read, thus prolonging the mind’s focus on that subject.
2. Write down the thought
When a meaningful thought comes to me, I grab my journal and start writing. It takes more time to write down a thought than to merely think it. Furthermore, the writing process usually crystallises and fleshes out the thought even more.
3. Repetition of a phrase
Monks chant mantras when they meditate. Athletes repeat instructions or personal war cries over and over again. Others have discovered the power of affirmations. and some people use daily affirmations. Find something that inspires you, and repeat it to yourself over and over again throughout the day.
Spiritual peace and quiet
Thinking less and holding a thought longer help us to declutter our minds of disquieting thoughts and fill them with more positive, useful thoughts. We can breathe freely with a quiet mind, and this is what spiritual peace means.
59 replies on “Attaining Spiritual Peace”
I guess you’ll want to put a facebook button to your website. I just bookmarked the url, however I must make it manually. Just my advice.
Thanks for the advice. I’ll have to get my social media buttons up to speed.
Daphne, this article is soo useful and inspiring. give you an encouragement. please continue this website, i believe it helps and saves a lot of people if they read your message by heart.
Thank you so much for this wonderful and encouraging comment. I really appreciate it, and will continue blogging for a while more for sure!
I am always amazed by your wealth of knowledge and your ability to impart it with such fluidity!
For me, silence is the only way to still my mind from thoughts.
Excellent as always, Daphne…thank you!:~)
I am always lifted by the energy and warmth of your comments. Thank you so much for your kind words. It’s hard for me to imagine a bubbly person like you as being silent and still, yet I know much of your strength and energy comes precisely from those quiet moments that you take to nourish your soul.
Hi Daphne .. what an amazing post – thank you so much for ‘spelling’ it out for us .. it’s really concise and well structured.
Welcome! And thank you for your comment. I have to ‘spell’ things out for myself so I can understand and remember, and am glad you like the structure I use to do this! Your blog has such a positive ring to it. I’ll be visiting often, I know!
Working as an auditor, I believe it’s in the nature of our job to think thousands of thoughts in a day, something that causes much stress. It also distracts our attention to the more important things in life. I will always remember this good advice on holding thoughts a bit longer, and of having lesser but more quality thoughts in our head, thanks Daphne! 🙂
Wow, an auditor does have a lot to think about! I’ve seen statistics that we have 50,000 thoughts in a day, though there was no source so I stayed with the reference with a proper, professional source. It’s possible that the number could be very high though. Thanks for dropping by!
Hi Daphne, Interesting statistic from the performance coach. To slow down my mind, I like to do martial arts and zazen. My wife enjoys the experience of preparing and enjoying tea to stop her thoughts.
Welcome! And thank you for your comment. The statistics help to frame the topic, don’t they? I learn so much when I research a post like this. I’ve been thinking about learning martial arts and this is one more reason to do it. Brewing and sipping tea is a whole art in itself, and your wife sounds like a master! I visited your blog and it’s very unique and peaceful. I love it!
Hi Daphne, I absolute agree about stop watching TV. TV will give more negative effects than positive ones.
Positive thinking could be trained. The more we think positively, fewer negative things will affect us.
Thank you for sharing, Daphne. 🙂
Being affected by negative things can be such a challenged when the media and people around us seem to dwell on negatives so much. I’m guilty of being negative too, and need to work on positive thinking! Thanks for your comment.
Very well said. I know I let my thoughts carry me away from my focus. I do practice meditation and other forms of mind training. It has helped me calm my monkey mind.
I could barely focus for fifteen minutes at a time. Now I can easily go an hour without getting distracted by random thoughts. I still have a long way to go, but each day I get a little better.
I loved the rhythm of this article. It moves well and gives great insight.
Stretching your attention span from 15 minutes to an hour is no mean feat! You must have done something right in your meditation. I get distracted all the time too, though with practice I’m able to stay focused longer, like you.
Thanks for your mention of the rhythm of the article. Sometimes when we write we don’t know how others perceive it and your feedback is appreciated!
This is probably one of my favorite posts.
I’ve been trying to eliminate mental clutter. One of my biggest problems is mental distraction. You mentioned the tv, but my biggest problem is surfing the internet and reading blogs, DOH!
I’ve started eliminating my internet time for surfing. Now, I typically only use my internet time for productive means.
Glad you like the post. You’re right that the internet has probably taken over TV in many people’s lives. When I started blogging I was online all day, messing about and not being very productive. Now I try to get online in limited doses, and each time it’s to:
a) write a post
b) skim through my reader to find posts I want to read and comment on
c) reply to comments and emails on my blog.
Other than that, I close my browser so I can focus on something else. So I hear you loud and clear on needing to eliminate mental clutter from the internet. Let’s cheer each other on this journey!
I’m just starting to see and understand benefits of meditation, and I feel you on the television. The same things happen to me when I watch TV now. Holding a thought longer….hmmm. That’s something I’ll have to think on.
Thinking on holding a thought longer? Now there’s a good start in holding a thought longer! Love the double entendre in your comment. Glad you understand that TV part. Some people look at me like I’m an alien when I say TV makes me tired! That’s how much the TV culture has pervaded our society.
I’m not sure I can ever get to “peaceful.” Maybe “more peaceful” is a better goal for me. Thank you for this article.
I’ll never attain spiritual peace myself. That’s why I titled the post “Attaining…” as a present continuous activity. It’s usually a one step forward, two steps back process for me.
For me, I think the answer is having more meditation in my life. I have been wanting to establish a meditation practice for years…but never seem to get it onto my priority list. Last year I incorporated a writing practice into my life. Perhaps this year it is finally time to establish my personal meditation practice. Thanks for reminding me of why it is so important.
I love the idea of a meditation practice. Maybe I’ll start a formal session once a week and invite people to join me. It’s one of those things that I do sporadically, though I know its enormous benefits. Let’s keep each other posted on how our meditation practices are going! I love the fact that you’ve already incorporated your writing practice. In fact I’m popping over to your site after this to learn more about it, assuming you’ve put the details there.
I love the idea of “reading and reflecting.” You have some great advice here. Thanks!!
Thanks, Positively Present. Some of these actions have helped me and I’m just sharing them. Thanks for reading!
I really like this post!
I think quieting the mind is one of the keys to happiness. I meditate all the time, but I’d never thought of the idea of holding a thought longer. I think of thoughts as either skillful or unskillful. Holding skillful thoughts longer means there is less room for unskillful thoughts.
I’m really glad that you really like this post!
Another reader left a comment in a previous post that when our minds are quiet, our natural state is joy. How true! It’s when we clutter our minds with all sorts of useless, unskillful thoughts that we make ourselves unhappy. I’m learning this lesson myself, and writing the post was my way of holding a skillful thought longer. I like your terms ‘skillful’ and ‘unskillful’ thoughts – that’s a useful way to discerning which thoughts to hold on to and which to let go. Thanks for your comment and insight!
Daphne, as you say, detaching from what a person thinks he needs is often what is required to rediscover truth. External sources of information obscure what you sense and feel inside. This is a process. On some level, you can imagine erasing the blackboard of your beliefs and perception. Consciously choose to start again with a clean slate.
Your words are wise as usual, and reminded me of an important point – sometimes I forget to be guided by my inner compass, and allow external circumstances to play too large a role in my decisions. Thanks for this reminder to erase the blackboard and start with a clean slate.
Great post! You write with such love and it shows. Give yourself a pat on the back! 🙂
It is so important to learn to be silent so that you can feel at peace and know how to proceed with any given task. I have found that when life gets too busy and I do not take anytime for myself, I feel disconnected and when that happens, I cannot see or act with clarity. So a daily habit of just having some time to myself helps me feel in touch with who I truly am and helps me to remember what it is that I want out of life.
Thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Most of my posts start with a kick in the butt – when I smack my forehead and realise that my thinking is not serving me, so I start writing as a way to clarify my thoughts and remind myself what’s important. So I’m glad you feel I can pat myself on the back now 🙂
Like you, I often feel disconnected when I don’t spend quiet time. Let’s remember to make this a daily habit, as you point out. Once part of our daily routine, we’ll be less likely to skip this.
I really like this one, I found it to be true time and time again. Most people do the opposite, they think a lot and do very little. Or it take them a lot time to think about what they are going to do, then they give up too soon.
The peal of wisdom is to think less and do more.
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
Glad you like this one. I’ve been often guilty of thinking too much and doing too little, and I’ve observed that successful people are very focused on just a few things and taking consistent, persistent, and as you remind us, even imperfect action on these. This post was a good reminder to myself, and I get carried away by too many thoughts sometimes.
It’s an important distinction–the “think less” as opposed to being limited mentally. I tend to think that people don’t think enough in many ways–blindly destroying their environment, hurting people around them, etc. But, really, the issue isn’t one of not thinking enough–it’s generally having minds full of junk thoughts…thinking about unimportant things specifically so that they don’t have to truly be more aware…or something like that…..
Yes the distinction is important. Junk thoughts, junk food… the world is full of these nowadays. It’s interesting that junk can be more tempting than wholesome food and thoughts. Maybe because the junk comes in bite sizes, while the good stuff requires more chewing – whether physical or mental? You’ve given me an interesting way to think about it though, thanks!
I can connect with the tip about watching less TV. At least in Spain, it seems to be a trend to make a drama out of everything and debates that looks like a wild pack of barking dogs.
‘Drama’ is a good word to use for many TV programs! While some documentaries are calmly educational, the news and action movies can be quite disquieting to watch. Thanks for your comment!
Another change in theme??? Okay…I like this one best of the lot!! I prefer clean lines and the easy mix of colors is pleasing to the eye.
I like the thought of practical spirituality too. It’s funny but I just had a discussion with my husband on this topic one hour ago. We both agreed that while all the “woo woo” stuff out there is fascinating, we are more interested in its application and practical aspect.
All the discussion on what is going to happen in 2012 or after is nice but an obsession over these topics will be about living in the future. Our focus should really be on the here and now. Our aim is what we can do today to lead a more fulfilled and happier life.
Peace to you too,
Yes, another theme! I feel like I’m in a dress shop and just have to try on all the different dresses! I know, I have to stop changing themes so often. Glad you like this one, I do too!
Wow, talk about timing, if you were talking with your husband just one hour before reading this post. I like your term “woo woo” for the esoteric stuff! I like thinking about that sometimes, though when we come back to the present, you’re right that the here and now is all we have – what we can think, say or do today. Thanks for your lovely comment.
It’d be hard for me to sit calmly if I was posed like that dude on the edge of a cliff.
I like the ditch television advice.
Your comment made me laugh! TV is ok in small doses, I find. It’s when it’s used as a constant background accompaniment to life that we lose our sensitivity to lots of other things. Thanks for dropping by!
I second Daphne…oh, how your statement made me laugh as well!:~)
It definitely cleared my thoughts for a second!:~)
Thanks for this post. One thing I’d add is that I find Eckhart Tolle’s exercise from The Power of Now helpful of scanning your body with your attention and noticing what you’re feeling. This is a great way to refocus your awareness on what’s going on right in front of you, as opposed to the mental story you might be running through.
Thanks for the reminder of Eckhart Tolle’s exercise. It’s a great way to come back to the present, and quite close to what Barbara said about taking a snapshot of the present moment except that this one is a kinesthetic snapshot. Great suggestion, thanks!
I’m new to your blog but I like the way that you’ve summed up important and practical steps for slowing down your mind. In case you haven’t seen this, there’s a great talk on TED by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neurologist who suffered a stroke, about controlling your thoughts:
Welcome, and thanks for leaving a comment. I watched the TED clip and learnt a lot, in addition to being very moved. I learnt as mujch from your comment as I did while researching the post. Thank you so much!
I seriously like the performance quote on chaotic thoughts … it helps put things in perspective.
Glad you found the quote helpful. I too prefer to learn facts from professionals than to make wild guesses when writing posts.
I’m spending time every morning with quiestness, prayer, meditation and journaling. I’d like to increase it to the afternoon or evening as well.
No. 1 is something my mom has told us her entire life. There’s so much truth in it. It’s easy to abuse others with words, and ourselves with negative self-talk.
I like what Barbara says about stopping her thoughts and creating memories of present moment abundance. How cool is that?
Your mornings sound wonderful, and I’m going to do that this week too. I used to do the quietness, meditation, journal routine at nights and somehow stopped a while ago. Thanks for the gentle nudge to go back to doing that. Your mum is a wise woman indeed, and yes there is so much truth there.
Barbara’s method is great! I like her analogy of taking a snapshot with the mind. Short, sweet, and it works!
Wow! I can’t remember ever being taught to slow my mind down. It’s only a concept I’ve come across because I have been looking for it. You give great suggestions Daphne, I must say I’ve been watching a lot less TV in 2009 than ever before.
Welcome, and thanks for your comment. I have a mind that goes into overdrive much more than is healthy, and I’ve had to use some simple techniques to slow down. Meditation is actually great, if you can slow down enough to get started! 🙂
You have a great blog. I just visited and am subscribed!
Loved “practical spirituality” part. 100% with on your take there.
Geee, 3000 thoughts a day…. Here is what I thought [oops another thought] to reduces the amount of thoughts – do more think less, believe your hunches. Such approach helps me to think less and achieve more. Often, what I achieve is mistakes, but hey – is not mistakes are the greatest sources of learning? 😉
OFF TOPIC: Love your theme. Clean and easy. I feel comfortable when landing on your pages. Good work.
You’re probably right that acting more and achieving more stops us from thinking too much. Action is a good way of keeping the mind focused on the present moment too. And mistakes are wonderful teachers, as you say! If we only made as many mistakes as successful businessmen, we’d be millionaires too!
Thanks for the thumbs up on the theme. I’ve been looking for something like this and hopefully will finally stop changing themes now!
Hi Daphne – When I start to get overwhelmed by my thoughts, I find what works for me is to try and live in the moment – to STOP what I’m thinking, to look around and take in all that’s happening and to count my blessings. I equate it to taking a picture with my mind, thus creating a happy memory.
With regard to TV, although I haven’t stopped watching it, I do limit the amount of time I spend watching the news. Some broadcasts are filled with so much doom and gloom, they make it sound like the world will end tomorrow. I’ve noticed since I’ve started monitoring my “news time”, I feel more positive and hopeful.
I love your analogy of taking a snapshot with your mind. That is a wonderful, quick way to get back into the moment, simply by taking ourselves outside it for a while to notice what’s going on. Maybe this is the out-of-mind equivalent of the out-of-body experience some people have! TV is useful, no doubt; just in small doses, as you point out!
Thanks for leaving a comment. I know you run a successful blog and it means a lot to me to see you here.
This is a very nice and warm site. I, too, am very spiritual and believe in living in peace. My site is for Awareness, and no talking. It’s quiet for one-on-one spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
The name is: A Sensational Soul Journey … and the address is:
It’s nice to have another place online (here) to learn from as well.
Thanks for your comment, Lovely. Your site has a beautiful name and a meaningful purpose.