Living from a Place Calm
When we live from a place of calm, we are better able to accurately assess what is happening and respond instead of react. We are able to see the joy around us more easily and appreciate the beauty in our lives. Life stops feeling rushed and instead feels meaningful (so instead of rushing through tasks, we relax into them, embracing them as part of our lived experience instead of something to get through). And rather than only relaxing when on vacation we can bring a sense of a relaxed presence to every moment. Most importantly, we are able to quiet the noise inside and out so we can connect with our intuition, that deep sense of knowing.
Living from a place of calm is definitely a practice. I believe it is worth sharing that I have noticed (and continue to notice) layers of this throughout my life. In my 20s, I was rarely calm - I’m not sure if I even knew what it meant to be calm back then! Once I started practicing yoga and meditating with more regularity, I noticed I felt significantly more calm. When I faced an enormous amount of stressors in parts of my early to mid-40s, calm seemed to elude me more often than not. In recent months, I noticed how I had gotten away from some of what helps me access calm and have reconnected with those practices. Essentially I have noticed how living from a place of calm can ebb and flow in my life; it’s not like I got to a place of living calmly and the work was done, that I am now forever calm. It is a practice I have decided to engage in because my life is fuller and more intentional and enjoyable when I do.
It is much easier to feel calm or access a state of calm when our external environment (e.g, personal circumstances, people in our life, events in our community, events in the world) is steady, predictable, and involves less stress or pain. So the challenge is learning to access a state of calm amidst the struggles, the pain, the horrors, the loss, and the sadness that may show up in our lives whether in the world at large or closer to home. This can be tough work and I can say that for me and many others with whom I have worked, it is totally worth it.
So if you’ve decided this is worth it, how does one go about creating a calm practice? We engage in regular practices of creating calm in our lives whether practicing yoga, mindfulness, Tai Chi, sitting in stillness in nature, or something else; we find what works for us and we make space for it in our lives. For more ideas, check out my previous blog post “Anxiety: The Long Game”.
It is also helpful to have ideas of how to calm ourselves in the moment, whether through volcano breathing (Yoga Calm technique involving fluid movement with breath), 5-4-3-2-1, or rocking in a rocking chair. Part of calming ourselves in the moment is committing to working on doing it. Sometimes the pull of anger and anxiety can be so strong with its own rewards that it can be hard to choose calm. And yet when we decide we want to choose calm and put the effort in to practice it, we notice our life shifts in positive ways. For more ideas see my previous blog post “Quick Tips for Regulating - Part 1: Anxiety”.
Something I find exciting about engaging in a calm practice is that it works together with paying mindful attention to help us be present in the moment.
Over the years, mindfulness practices have gained attention for the many ways they can help us. One of the things I find most useful is that when I pause, breathe, and pay mindful attention, I am then able to access a state of flow. What do I mean by flow?
For me, being in the flow is being present and mindful enough to hear my inner wisdom, my intuition so I just “know” the next ‘right’ thing. When I am in flow, I make less mistakes (not that mistakes are necessarily bad, just that I spend less time when I do things correctly the first time), spill less coffee, misplace things less often, and because I can hear and thus follow my intuition things just work. I can see open and closed doors more easily so I can trust the closed doors instead of forcing my way through them and instead walk through the opportunities opening before me that I would miss if not present. All of this allows me to be more reflective and thus intentional about my decisions.
Being present can also be helpful during times of distress. Often times if we can step back and be mindful of our body freaking out, we are better equipped to do something to calm ourselves and effectively handle the situation at hand.
How can we be present? One way to practice is by using this present moment check-in to get a sense of our experience.
Notice your breath.
Notice your body sensations, perhaps observing those that feel comfortable or in some way pleasing and those that feel less-than- comfortable. Just notice, no need to change them.
Notice your emotions. If there is more than one emotion, perhaps notice if they seem connected or separate Just notice. No need to change anything.
Notice your thoughts. Are they moving or still? If they are moving, are they moving quickly or slowly. Are they about the past or the future or are they about the present moment. Just notice.
This check-in is a nice practice to incorporate a few times a day to help get connected to your experience in the present moment. There are so many ways to practice mindfulness and being present in the moment so if this one doesn’t do it for you, you might try something else; a quick Google search will reveal dozens of ideas. However you choose to practice, select a method that works for you, something you will actually do.
How Does This Help Me Create the Life I Want?
I have noticed that when I am calm and present I am able to connect with my intuition. This leads to clarity around what I want in life and what I don’t. With this clarity, I am able to choose in the moment things that are in alignment with my ideal life and let go of those that aren’t. I am able to live with intention and trust the doors opening before me because they come from my deep sense of knowing. Connecting with this inner knowing helps me trust that I am on the ‘right’ path for me, which allows me to be clear with my boundaries around how I want to live and what I want to do. All of this almost makes it sound easy. While this is simple, it isn’t easy. It is a practice of tuning in, of choosing awareness over autopilot, and of following your inner guidance even when it isn’t popular with others. Ultimately, it’s deciding that you deserve your own best life, even if it’s not the life someone else wants for you*. And you do - you deserve your own best life.
* If you are someone with a history of unresolved complex trauma, know that this may not feel like a choice for you yet. If this is your experience, I would encourage you to connect with a psychotherapist to start to heal so you can reconnect with you innate sense of worthiness.
This blog is for information only. Reading this blog or interacting with it is not medical advice and does not constitute a therapeutic relationship. This blog is not a substitute for mental health care. Please be sure to seek out mental health care as needed.