5 Ways To Find Calm Amidst Chaos
For most of us, mindfully observing the constant stream of our thoughts can prove challenging even as we sit in a serene sanctuary. It’s another thing altogether to find our calm through everyday obstacles like traffic jams, work deadlines and unending errands. And it’s especially testing to stay collected in high-stress situations like a medical emergency. The good news is, however, that no matter what is happening outside of us, in any given moment, we can connect with a deeper place inside of us to instantly experience peace and presence.
Whether you have to conquer your inbox, change a flat tire or face a family crisis, here are five ways to stay calm amidst chaos and in the eye of any hurricanes life blows your way:
1. FIND YOUR BREATH
When we’re stressed, our breathing becomes shallow and our primal fight-or-flight response floods our bodies with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In the long run, this unconscious response wreaks havoc on our health and wellness. One of the simplest and most effective ways to switch this programmed reaction i stressful moments is to focus on our breath.
Next time you find yourself in fear mode, place one hand on your heart and one on your belly (in my corporate job days, I would go to the bathroom to do this!). Hold your attention completely on the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe, until you can drop your breath down to your belly. Don’t strain or force the breath down. As you simply focus on your belly, your breathing will naturally deepen and center in your belly, helping you feel calm and clear.
Because our inhales become longer when stressed, another technique is to breathe in through your nose to the count of four and then breathe out to the count of four.
Slowly and naturally, you can even start increasing the length of your exhales (but not more than twice the count of your inhales) to soothe your nervous system, release happy chemicals and feel clear and focused.
2. FEEL YOUR FEET
A simple way to forget about stress is to remember our feet. As a Reiki master and spiritual healer, when I perform distant healing sessions, I can feel and sense palpable heat and static around my clients’ heads, and very little energy flowing in their legs and feet. This is a usually a sign of being worried, anxious and ungrounded.
Since the feet are what connect us to the earth, by focusing on them, we instantly come back into our bodies and feel anchored.
A quick way to get there is by visualizing deep, thick roots growing from the soles of your feet into the earth, until you feel as strong and sturdy as a mighty oak tree.
The winds of life might twist and turn our branches, but they won’t be able to blow us away if us stand firmly rooted.
3. BE IN YOUR BUBBLE
While in the West we tend to believe only in what we see as real, Eastern wisdom teaches us that there is much more to reality than what we perceive with our senses. One of the greatest teachings of Eastern healing traditions is the idea of the energy body. Therapies like acupuncture, Reiki and acupressure all work on the subtle body to facilitate healing in the physical body. But we don’t need to be a trained healer to benefit from energy enhancing techniques.
A great one to try if you find yourself in a draining situation, toxic interaction or just feel unsafe and unsettled is to imagine a bubble of gold or indigo light all around you. These are very protective colours that clear and shield the energy field in any situation and help us feel safe and centered.
4. SAY A SILENT MANTRA
Literally meaning “to free from the mind,” mantras are ancient, sacred sounds that work on our energy centers to profoundly alter and uplift our body, mind, spirit and life. While getting our “Om” on out loud during a job interview or blind date would probably not fare so well, we can always secretly repeat a mantra to silence the nervous chatter in our mind.
Here are some sacred sounds that can help you rest in your inner sanctuary no matter what you’re facing outside: Shaanti, which means peace; So Hum which translates as “I am One,” and helps us connect with Spirit; and a favourite from the Kundalini yoga tradition, Sat Nam, which means “I am truth” or “Truth is my identity.”
If you don’t resonate with these Eastern mantras, you can always pick a word like “peaceful” or “happy”. You’ll also feel extra calm if you inhale on the first syllable and exhale on the second. For example, breathe in on “So,” and breathe out on “Hum,” in on “peace” out on “ful”.
5. DELVE INTO YOUR LAKE
One of my favourite teachings from Eckart Tolle is using the simple metaphor of a lake to find inner peace. In his own words from The Power of Now, “The outer situation of our life and whatever happens out there, is the surface of the lake. Sometimes calm, sometimes windy and rough, according to the cycles and seasons. Deep down, however, the lake is always undisturbed. You are the whole lake, not just the surface, and you are in touch with your own depth, which remains absolutely still.”
How do you delve into the depths of your inner lake when you’re frantically flailing in its waves? Practicing regular meditation and mindfulness is the best way to stay connected to your true, serene self.
However, you can also find instant peace by seeing the situation you’re facing as the fluctuating surface of the lake. Then, drop your awareness into our heart space at the center of your chest, find your breath again and visualize yourself sinking into the depths of your innately peaceful self, your being, your spirit.
The beauty of all these techniques is that they can be practiced anywhere, anytime and in any circumstance.
All situations offer us gifts to be grateful for, lessons to learn and opportunities to flourish. In fact, sometimes when we’re sailing smoothly along the current of our lives, an unforeseen storm is just what we need to re-center our minds, re-evaluate our course and re-calibrate our lives. Sometimes it’s the chaos that returns us to the gift of the present.
My hope is that you’ll use these tips to start and sustain your personal peace practice so you can rest in your inner refuge at all times. Om Shaanti Om.