“You have power over your mind-not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” - Marcus Aurelius
The last few weeks have brought some pretty drastic storms around the world. Unfortunately they have caused some pretty bad damage but there is always a lesson to be learned when chaos strikes. Unlike the rest of the storm, the eye stays calm. Although it is right in the centre of the madness, the disastrous winds never reach the eye. Life can be pretty stormy sometimes. We look around and it seems like everything is speeding up and everyone is running around, but in any frazzled situation, we too can be calm like the eye.
Staying calm in chaotic situations isn’t easy, but it is essential. In high stressful situations, if we haven’t prepared, we can be quick to panic and things can go wrong pretty quickly. As Marcus Aurelius reminds us, we can not control everything but we can control how we react to the given challenges we face. By keeping a calm mind and trusting in ourselves, we are better able to steer our way into an outcome that we prefer.
Calmness is contagious as well, and good leaders know how to lead by example. In sports, the breakdown of a team’s play is usually so obvious, and panic becomes the recognizable pattern of falling apart. Granted, in sports someone will always loose, and in storms, mother nature will always win, but in our daily lives, we are all able to practice calmness on a regular basis.
Trends in both yoga and meditation have been catching a lot of momentum in the west over the past two decades. The reasons are plenty, but calmness of the mind is amongst one of the benefits that people enjoy the most. These practices are not always as easy to get into as it my be seem. The mind isn’t really accustomed to slowing down in this survival focus primal brain. And slowing down doesn’t mean shutting off, it means finding clarity and silencing the chatter of the monkey mind. Yoga comes in many forms and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but not being flexible enough is not a very good excuse. Simply put, that is why it might be good to do yoga! When it comes to meditation, probably even the Dalai Lama would tell you that it was challenging when he first started, but like all good things in life, practice takes us to remarkable places.
Even if you never want to bend over and touch your toes, or sit cross legged and focus on your third eye, there are other ways that you can train yourself to stay calm. Pranayama breathing is sort of the base for the yoga practice but only requires that you focus on your breath. You can find loads of resources online to get started. Everyone is breathing anyways, so why not just do it a bit better right? An even less complicated approach can be to simply count your breathes from 1-10. Concentrated breathing can reduce stress, alleviate pain and uplift your mood, and it only takes 10 seconds.
Another way to be calm in stressful situations is also to just get used to them. Basketball players practice the game winning shots, quarterbacks practice the last minute rushes etc. because experiential learning makes it more likely that we embody our lessons. In any task that we have done over and over again, there is no need to panic as we have been there before. We find comfort in our knowledge and we are able to adapt accordingly. Basically, we should all find ways to practice in stressful situations that don’t have the same real life consequences that we may run into. If we are willing to practice this for sports, music or work than why not practice calmness to increase our general happiness as well.
Not all of us may have 10, 000 hours of mastery in our craft, but we all share breathing in common, and basically everyone is on an even playing field for that. What ever forms of storms we may run into, remember that we are all capable of finding calmness in the moment.
Let’s change the way we travel, together.
The Lifestyle Project