Spiritual & Calm Today
Self-enlightenment is necessarily a much different process today than it was thousands of years ago when “ancient wisdom” was being shared by our great sages. Sure, they didn’t have luxuries like air conditioning or Amazon; but they also didn’t live in an age when everything in general was running 90 miles an hour.
Two income families, soccer practice, and driving in rush hour traffic just were not on the list of everyday stressors. And don’t even get me started on the whole success driven, perfect body image, let’s all compare ourselves to one another competitive paradigm that’s constantly promulgated by the media.
Things are just very different these days. It takes a lot more effort and devotion to create and sustain a peaceful, manageable lifestyle while still being a part of society.
Well, it may not be easy, but it’s definitely possible. Here are 5 great ways to calm yourself down.
Meditate for Just 5 Minutes (or More) Daily
You don’t have to practice Hinduism or Buddhism to meditate. In fact, meditation is referenced several times in the Bible, as well as other sacred texts not associated with any one religion. Meditation is primarily about calming the mind and making way for relaxation or insights.
A calm mind is a powerful mind.
Meditation is a proven method for calming the mind. Also, the health benefits of meditation are well documented and include stress reduction, increased self-awareness, lowering blood pressure, slowing aging, and boosting the immune system.
If you’re new to meditation, it helps to get started with a guided meditation. Here’s a simple, guided meditation by The Honest Guys you may enjoy.
Remember to Breathe Deeply Throughout the Day
When we’re stressed out and overloaded, our sympathetic nervous system can become over active. That means we’re in the “fight, flight, or freeze” dynamic of survival mode far too often.
When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes shallow. Our body is literally preparing itself to fight or run (we freeze when we’re not sure what else to do or we’re in shock).By taking several deep breaths (inhaling slowly and exhaling completely), we consciously activate the calming processes of our parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is what keeps our bodily systems in balance: homeostasis.Click To Tweet
When we consciously activate the parasympathetic nervous system by CHOOSING to slow down and breathe deeply, we are using our mind to help our body understand that there is no real and present danger to face. It’s okay to breathe now. We are safe.
The body immediately responds to the mind’s direction; and we can calm down when we choose to take several deep, slow breaths.
Bring Your Attention Into The Present Moment
9 times out of 10 it isn’t what’s happening in this exact moment that’s stressing us out. It’s our mind drifting off into the future and what might happen or our mind recycling something unpleasant that’s already happened that upsets us. It’s easy to start feeling helpless when we spend too much time in the past.It's easy to start feeling overwhelmed when we spend too much time thinking about the future. Click To Tweet
This moment, the here and now, is the moment in which we have all the power.
We can decide right now where we will place our focus, whether we will speak or remain silent, and which thoughts we will accept or reject. With the power of the present moment at our command, we can relax the feeling of being overwhelmed and out of control.
An easy way to bring your attention into the present moment is to focus on your body’s sensations. Move your toes and notice how your skin feels beneath your socks or shoes.
Here are a couple of other suggestions too.
- Pay attention to your heart beat: really feel your heart beating in your chest. Is your heart beating fast? Focus all your attention on breathing more slowly and observing what’s happening in your body as your heart rate slows down.
- Notice your posture. Are you sitting or standing comfortably? What does it feel like when you straighten your back and shoulders? What does it feel like when you relax your shoulders and lean back?
Use Prayer Hands to Remember You’re Not Alone
As we place our hands together in prayer position, we are activating our subconscious awareness of how completely we are connected with all of creation. You don’t even need to say a prayer for this to work.
Simply place your hands together in prayer position. Feel your fingers pressing against one another in perfect balance. Focus on your hands connecting to one another and to God, Nature, the Divine, Spirit, whatever you call your Higher Power.
Go for a Relaxing, Meditative Walk
Getting from point A to point B isn’t really going for a walk. A “real walk” is time away from everything that is not part of the walk: it’s a relaxing, meditative walk. A real walk involves taking one mindful step after another, slowly and steadily moving forward without having to arrive anywhere by a certain time.
If you have a park near you, go for a walk and appreciate the simple beauty of nature. Look at the grass. Listen for the birds.
- What sounds are the birds, animals, and insects making?
- Walk for as long as it takes for you to get out of the worry zone and back into a broader perspective. There’s more to Life and living than turning that report in on time or worrying about your daughter’s new boyfriend.
Use Cold Therapy
Research shows that the body adjusts to cold temperatures by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (remember, that’s the calming and balancing branch of your autonomic nervous system/ the opposite of fight or flight).
You can take a cool or cold shower in the morning. While the cold temperatures may be very uncomfortable at first, the overall effect when you’re done is that you’ll feel more relaxed and centered.
If you can’t handle the intensity of a cold shower, try getting a cooler pack (you can keep one in your freezer) and place the cooler pack on your body. I’ve found that leaning back on a cooler pack so that it’s in the center of my spine works beautifully. Use a thin hand towel or other cloth to make the cooler pack more comfortable again your body.
The benefits of daydreaming include increased focus and improved memory.
Daydreaming is a wonderful way to step out of our “ordinary” world and put a little enchantment back in our lives. It helps us calm down and get rejuvenated.
Start Saying “No” When No Is What You Mean
Many of the negative feelings we have are because we are negating ourselves by saying “yes” to others when we really want to say “no.”
Too often, we will go against ourselves and what we really need or want in an effort to please or to “take care of” other people.
Most of the time, that behavior is self-destructive and unhealthy. And don’t let anyone tell you anything differently.
Sure, if you are parenting a child under 12, there are going to be times when you do need to do something you really don’t want to do. In that situation, another human being’s safety and well-being is completely in your hands because he or she is too young to take care of himself or herself.
A similar situation would be when you are caring for an elderly parent or a sick spouse. These are , however, unique situations that should be distinguished from just generally being a “Yes-Woman” or “People Pleaser.”
When you go against yourself by saying “yes” when you mean “no,” you’re creating inner conflict. The person you said “yes” to when you wanted to say “no” has likely moved on with his or her day (having practically forgotten what you did for him or her). You, however, are left dealing with a sense of inner conflict and turmoil that can tear you apart inside when it goes on too long.
Stop it. Just stop it.
What you want and need matters too. In fact, it matters most.
You have a right to say what you mean, especially when what you mean is “no.” Try saying what you mean for a while and notice how much more peaceful your life will become.
© T Sloan Rawlins
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© T. Sloan Rawlins
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