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Shortcuts: How to achieve inner peace

By Jackie Dent for CNN
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(CNN) -- We all crave inner peace but the path -- cruelly -- is never easy. As Homer Simpson so succinctly put it: "This inner peace stuff is a tough on the ol' coconut."

I am sick of thinking about myself: Screwed up holiday plans, partner problems, not enough money: the brain is a torrent of relentless thoughts, most of them meaningless and just wafting by. Meditation trains the mind to think of nothing and what better way to ultimately train the mind than on a 10-day silent retreat? Many a meditator has struggled with the intensity but a Vipassana "to see things as they are" retreat is a rewarding path to calming down universal ailments. A bell dongs and you arise at 4.30 a.m. The rest of the day is pretty much spent meditating, with the odd vegetarian meal, piece of fruit and lemon squeezed in tea thrown in. Three days are spent focusing on your nose. Six days are spent focusing on sensations in the body; the tinkles on your skin, the wind in your hair. On the final day, you learn to wish people lots of love and happiness.

My mind won't sit still. I'm more disco: For some, the idea of sitting still and not talking is well, hell, unless it's in front of the latest season of "Smallville." If this is the case, perhaps 5 Rhythms moving meditation, a dance concept developed by Gabrielle Roth in the sixties, is more your groove. Basically, you dance to five different types of rhythms -- flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness -- which inspire all sorts of dance styles in people. Dancing like nobody is watching can be pretty embarrassing at first, and make you feel like you are on the set of a San Francisco interpretative dance video, but devotees say the result is ecstatic.

There is always God: It is a classic option for billions worldwide, and every major religion and its breakaways offer an answer for your own personal inner peace. The Buddhists feel once you have reached truth, you have reached peace. For Jews and Christians, one seeks peace inside and with neighbors, while for Muslims a peace with God is paramount. This quest for peace manifests in different ways. Catholics and High Anglicans feel it comes through baptism and communion, while the Protestants have backed prayer. Some Shia Muslims and Filipino Catholics find redemption, and ultimately a calm, in flagellating themselves with knives and sticks until they bleed. Sufis -- like the 5 Rhythms kids -- prefer to dance the night away.

I find an inner peace drinking beer/getting trashed with friends: While beer is not commonly thought a drug that leads to inner peace, there is a world of other drugs, which have been used to reach nirvana. Some branches of Hinduism smoke marijuana and hashish, while the The Native American Church ingests peyote. For a more hardcore experience, the Shamans of South America have for centuries enacted powerful rituals with yage, a vine with pink flowers, which when ingested with tea, takes the soul of the user flying on a beautiful yet -- at times -- terrifying trip.

I'm hungry and tired: For the easiest option, try curling up on the sofa with a nice dinner and the dog. The latest Sigue Ros album or Glenn Gould's "Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I" will certainly enhance this scenario, and send you off to a peaceful sleep.


Could Buddhism be your path to inner peace?

THE BRIEFING ROOM

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