For a long time I thought of inner peace as going within myself and shutting out the rest of the world. I have discovered, however, that the deeper the inner peace I find the more I can connect to the world. When we accept ourselves in a more profound way we can also accept the world more fully.
It is necessary to shut out other distractions for a while when searching for inner peace. I find it necessary because most of the seemingly urgent demands in life are actually superficial and not nearly as urgent as they are made out to be.
Once we have found our inner core of identity we need to keep that as a constant and primary part of all other thoughts. I liken it to the task of driving when you suddenly notice a fly inside the car. As much as the fly my annoy you and as much as you would like to get rid of it, you cannot neglect the fact that your primary task is actually to drive the car safely. You must distinguish between what is temporary and superficial and what is primary and unchanging.
All those who have had profound spiritual journeys seem to end up with the same identity. We discover that we are connected to all things, that we are meant to love and be loved, and that our existence has value. We may have had many experiences that devalue our worth. We may have heard many voices telling us that we are no good. We may not have in individual person who truly loves us well. But there is a place within us where all that fades away and we realize we are at peace with our place in the universe and with our core identity.
If we think we have found our core identity but still think that makes us superior to others, then we are really only on a superficial level. In true inner peace we have found our place in this world and others have theirs. That is a beautiful thing.