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Look for the calm within yourself

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Be your own port in a storm, find that place within that soothes, calms, strengthens you.

Life is crazy. Even when you don't want it to be, modern life is full on, noisy, chaotic, busy, with alerts popping up right, left and centre, and gadgets pinging you, it can feel like there is no escape.

The mind is like water. When it's turbulent, it's difficult to see. When it's calm, everything becomes clear (Prasad Mahes)

So how do you escape, even just for a moment? How do you find that moment of calm? How do you stop the constant stream of busy thoughts? How do you find your way back to a calm and centred mind, that state of mind that brings clarity?

You look within. The calm within can be created, established, developed, until it becomes a habit, a safe place to escape to. There are techniques that can be practised until they become habits, such as meditation, focussing, breathing exercises.

The mind is constantly being bombarded, over stimulated by modern life. We live in a world of instant gratification, of technological advances that we hadn't even imagined would become a possibility a few years ago. If you make the mistake of hesitating on a promotional social media post, that's it, you've given the monster a way in, an invitation to bombard you. Curiosity got the better of me recently and I opened an advert for a second hand wedding dress on a social media platform (no I'm not getting married, I just couldn't help myself!). Now the world thinks I'm shopping for a wedding dress, every time I open my laptop, up pops another advert. That's the crazy world we live in, so how do we escape such a full on onslaught of demands for our attention. How do we create the moment of calm?

One of the easiest ways is to simply try some mindful breathing. Literally count on the in breath for 4, breathing in through your nose, hold for 4, and breathe out slowly through your mouth for a count of 4. Aim to eventually get up to a count of 8 on the exhale, with a long slow gentle whoosh of a breath out. Place your hands on your chest, so that your fingertips just touch, and as you breathe in, notice your ribcage rise as it fills with air, creating a gap between your hands, and then as you exhale, notice your ribcage drop back, so that your fingertips meet again. A few breaths may be enough to steady an active mind.

Or try expanding your awareness of your surroundings. Really tune in. What can I hear, touch, smell, see, taste? As I look around, what colours can I notice? What changes do I notice since I last looked at this scene. What are the obvious sounds? And if I listen really carefully, what are the less obvious sounds?

Alternatively, recreate better surroundings in your mind. Where is that one place you always feel at peace? Is it a room in your childhood home? Or a favourite holiday location? Is it walking on a beach, listening to the waves, or in a quiet forest? Close your eyes and slowly recreate a scene in your mind, build it up, detailing it out, concentrating on the things that you love about it. Is it a pattern of wallpaper? Or the sound of waves crashing? Or the smell of a favourite treat being baked by a family member?

Another method of creating a moment of calm is to reconnect with your body. Whether you chose to call it meditation, or simply see it as a physical awareness, it has the same benefits. Ideally you should be lying or sitting in a quiet place, breathing steadily, and away from the chance of interruption. Let your eyes close, and start at the top of your head, tuning into how it feels, is it heavy on your shoulders, is your brow creased, are you frowning? Let all the muscles relax, and move your focus to your shoulders. Spend 10 minutes if you have them, move down your body slowly, focusing in on every part, feeling every muscle, noticing your heart beat, concentrating on how each part of your body feels, and consciously relaxing each muscle as you become aware of it. And welcome the sense of calm that washes over you.

Perhaps you could start that novel, not on paper, but in your head. The best books I've ever written have been in my head, sadly I have yet to capture them on paper! Whenever you feel the need to escape, to press pause, to create a moment of calm, write a page, develop a new character, add a plot twist. It's your escape after all, your place to go to in your mind, that takes you away from the bedlam and balderdash of life.

If breathing and imaginary locations or characters are not for you, you could take a slightly more quirky approach and simply see the busy thoughts or technological interruptions as irritating little beings, something to swat away, or simply ignore, like gnats flying round on a late summers day. Here's one now, annoying little bugger, just going to ignore it. And here's another, yes, they just keep coming. But that's okay, I can't do anything about them, so I am just going to recognise them for what they are, irritating but harmless. I might even count them, because they simply keep popping up. This approach doesn't work for everyone, but sometimes taking the power away from something and just accepting it as an irritation, can diffuse the power. And before you know it, you are so busy stealing their power, and demoting them to minor inconsequential irritations, that a sense of calm creeps over you.

However you do it, the most important thing is to find what works for you. When you can't think straight, when your mind is overactive, or life simply keeps coming at you, press pause. You are your own remote control, you just have to find the button that stops the noise, halts the interruptions, allows you to find your way back to a quiet mind. Even if it is just for a moment or two.

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