You are at a traffic signal. All the hundreds of vehicles, including yours, are impatiently waiting for it to turn green. Hawkers are shouting to catch your attention and street urchins are selling their wares or simply begging. And while you are grappling with all this chaos around you, your phone buzzes, making you aware that you are running late for a meeting. Once at your workplace, you have a different set of challenges to tackle.
So at any given time and place in a city, you are struggling to find peace and it seems to evade you.
As if this wasn’t enough, you live two lives — the real one and the virtual one. Smartphones and social media are as important as breathing to you. You want to be everywhere and are afraid of missing out on anything happening in your micro world and the universe at large. When you are away from your phone for 10 minutes, on returning to it, you find at least three missed calls, 10 WhatsApp notifications, five comments on Facebook and a handful of likes on Instagram. Do you ignore them or give in? The question doesn’t have an easy answer.
Amidst the crowd, cacophony and traffic outside, the continuously popping notifications on your smartphone plus the many battles inside your mind, how do you find peace? Ahead of International Peace Day (September 21), we thought of delving deeper into peace at the individual level and asked various professionals what peace means to them, its significance in their lives and their ways of seeking it.
What is peace?
The definition of peace differs from person to person. For some, it may be in looking at the stars, sipping a steaming cup of coffee on a rainy day and for some others, it may be in reading or meditation. For Kolkata-based content writer Aayushi Chakraborty, peace is a state of mind which allows you to be happy with yourself, no matter what. “In a way, peace is empowering yourself and then basking in the sunlight of self-satisfaction. I feel peaceful only when I can eat and wear what I want. It’s knowing that I can get up a little late next morning, or that I can just stop doing my job as and when I feel like. Restriction is painful and takes away every bit of peace. Without awareness freedom has no meaning and without freedom there can’t be any peace,” says the 28-year-old.
Keyoor Karadkhedkar, Mumbai-based vocalist from the band MH43 India, defines peace as a state of mind. “Anything that happens around is either alleviating or discomforting. So not being affected by events that are not in our control, limiting the use of online conversations and meeting people in person keeps me at peace,” he says.
For Asrana Khatoon, a human resource manager, peace is her ‘alone time’. “By alone time, I mean time spent without TV and mobile phone. After a hectic day, peace for me is just sitting alone with a cup of tea,” she clarifies.
People find peace in their surroundings and also deep within. “For me, peace is when what I feel, what I do and what I say are in sync, when there is no contradiction in thinking, feeling and action, no afterthoughts and no regrets,” says Girish Karambelkar, a restaurateur and linguist.
Significance of peace
In the turbulent times that we live in, when there is so much hatred, crime and violence, it is necessary to establish peace and harmony around. However, it is equally significant to have peace in our day-to-day life, on an individual level. “When I leave for work and know that I am running late, I feel anxious. I panic. But when I am on schedule and I know I won’t be late for my 10-7 job, I feel an immense sense of peace. At that moment, the blaring car horns do not affect me, as I know that things are under control. Peace is in knowing that you are not left out in the mad rat race, that you are progressing just like everyone else is,” says Chakraborty.
Being close to music, 30-year-old Karadkhedkar is perhaps closer to peace than many others his age. “I have never looked for peace anywhere but within. The fact that I am also a part of this fast paced, chaotic and constantly moving urban life actually motivates me to do good deeds and help others. I find peace in it. I believe we are all together in this journey though our paths may differ, our dreams may vary,” says Karadkhedkar.
Karambelkar, 62, feels that peace is most essential in the chaotic urban life as everybody seems lost, impatient and agitated. “Any act done in this state of mind is bound to lead to a vicious circle of unrest and agitation. Therefore, attaining peace is of paramount importance,” he feels.
Ways to find it
While many think smartphones and social media are a disturbance, for Chakraborty, they serve a purpose. “Repeated phone calls from my relatives and friends make me feel peaceful. Constant FB, WhatsApp or Hike alerts make me feel normal. Finding my cell whenever I reach out for it has a deeper sense of peace associated with it as well,” says Chakraborty who plugs the earphones into her ears and listens to some loud music whenever she begins working at her desk. “The loud music isolates me from the monotony of the job, and I calm down,” she adds.
On her way back home from work after 10 pm, finding a cab and reaching home safely soothes her, and so does financial stability. “Knowing that I have enough money in my bank account brings peace to my life. Knowing that my internet connection, electricity bill, house rent are all taken care of, is peace. I don’t mind saying that anything that happens at my convenience provides me with a sense of peace. It’s a mental state which is entirely personal,” she says.
Khatoon has a different take on this. She feels that knowing and discovering yourself everyday is the best way to find peace. “The more you know yourself, the more peaceful your mind will be. I’ve observed that just spending two minutes alone has made me a much calmer and better person. Once you know every little detail about yourself, including your flaws, it provides you immense strength to believe in yourself and automatically brings inner peace,” says she and also advises that meditation and sitting idle.
Though solace comes naturally to Karadkhedkar through his craft, his profession also comes with many things that can affect peace. His solution? “I simply unfollow any page or person that uploads violence or rumours. I have unfollowed most of the news pages that sell agenda. Most of the things you will find on my social media handles are posts about music or work from my friends that I love listening to. I share my thoughts and views in a humorous way. It gives me a lot of peace and happiness to know that I have become the reason for someone’s smile,” says Karadkhedkar.
Once in a while, we should unplug the phone, feels Karambelkar. “I feel that in this age dominated by technology and social media, it is very important to disconnect. It is of utmost importance to spend time with one’s near and dear ones and also have some ‘me time’ to reflect within. It’s essential to know that material possessions do not give happiness, spending time with near and dear ones does as it’s a precursor to peace. When everyone around us is happy, there is no conflict but only peace prevailing,” he adds.