As we prepare to depart the first month of this new year I feel like there is a lot going on already! I have heard from so many friends facing stress and troubles just this week, on top of my own, it seems like this year is a getting off to a rough start for a lot of us.
Something that I have been thinking about a lot and really stuck with me from the weekend getaway with American Widow Project was said by the Yoga Instructor we had visit us at the cabin (http://yogawithshanti.com/Yoga_with_Shanti/Home.html):
Inner peace is not the absence of chaos, it is the ability to be at peace while in the midst of chaos.
I think there are multiple versions of that saying, but that is my rendition. This quote made a lot of sense to me and a light bulb went off after I heard it. Though I try to avoid conflict and trouble as much as possible, the world is chaotic and there is always SOMETHING happening somewhere to someone. You can’t avoid troubles in life no matter what you do. Then comes the stress, anxiety, fears, tears and feeling like the world is falling down around us. And that is just when we realize we are out of toilet paper.
Okay maybe it is usually a little more serious than that.
So how do we deal with all of these emotions and these unexpected events? Drive ourselves to the brink by trying to control everything around us? (Which of course isn’t humanely possible!) Our do our emotions take over and end up running us and our lives?
Can we step away from our emotions and find inner peace in the midst of our chaos?
The truth is, we all have the ability to maintain inner peace at some level. We just have to make it a priority and figure out what works for us. In today’s world I think we have such a problem with this because we have so many things going on! We are overstimulated and not well-equipped to deal with stress. For example, how many windows are open on your computer?
How many of us take the time to just be in the present moment? Can we even keep our mind in the present for more than 30 seconds before bouncing to tomorrow, yesterday or a year from now?
I was lucky to attend an amazing semester of yoga at the University of Montana when I first got out of the Navy and I learned how beneficial controlled breathing was and how beneficial it was to be able to calm yourself when things start getting stressful. You know what else they are good for? Calming your mind as you try to sleep! Doing 3-5 long breaths – with affirmations of your intention and to keep your inhalation the same duration as your exhalation, works almost every time for me.
So you would do something like this:
Breathe in through your nose to fill your lungs completely while thinking some kind of affirmation, to keep it simple try something like “re-lax, re-lax, re-lax” (you could also just count to 4. There are a lot of variations to this kind of exercise! I like the actual words).
As you breathe in focus on how the air feels as you breathe in.
Then hold your breath in and again “re-lax, re-lax, re-lax”. Notice any place that you may be holding stress or tensing and relax it, ex. your shoulders or jaw).
Then completely empty your lungs again “re-lax, re-lax, re-lax”. Notice the warm air as you exhale.
Usually after 3 time of this I just go to normal breathing again and I am out. If worries, thoughts of tomorrow, toilet paper or yesterday creep in, acknowledge them and then let them go. Come back to focusing on your breath.
This is just one example of the many ways to learn to control your mind from spinning out of control and to get in the present moment with yourself. Doing 20 minutes of sitting quietly and not thinking about anything, just observing the sounds of nature and relaxing your body can make a huge difference in your day. Just like anything else, the more you practice the better you get. You may find yourself handling stress much better! For those of you that compete, like barrel racing, and are having issues with anxiety before your run, these exercises can also be really helpful!
No matter your stress or situation, it is always helpful to learn how to be in the present. Remember the past cannot be changed and worrying about the future does nothing for us. Give it up to God and trust!
Never Give Up & Namaste,