Finding Inner Calm in a Hectic World
by Cheryl Rainfield, the award-winning author of STAINED, SCARS, and HUNTED, 2003
It can be hard to find a little piece of inner calm—especially when things are hard. You probably know how much better you feel when you take time to find that calm place inside—but how many of us actually take the time to find that calm place when we are stressed out, or even on a regular basis? It seems that the busier or harder our lives get, and the more we need to experience some relaxation, the harder it is for us to relax.
Sometimes the only thing that’s holding us back is that we forget how much we need a few moments of peace; we forget how important it is. We forget to take a few moments to ourselves to go inward. Sometimes all we need to do is remind ourselves of how much better a day or a situation can be if we just take a few minutes to find that calm.
Sometimes we hold ourselves back, afraid to find that calm. We might be afraid that if we relax, we won’t get done all the things we need to do. Or maybe we’re afraid that we don’t deserve to relax, that the things we have to do or take care of are more important than ourselves. Or maybe we’re afraid that if we quiet our minds for a few moments, we’ll tap into even greater anxiety or things we don’t want to look at. But taking time to find that calm place inside, even just a few minutes, can help us feel stronger, better, more connected to ourselves. It can help us choose whether we want to look at something or not. It can help give us more energy to do what we need to do, or more focus to choose what’s most important to us to give our energy to. And finding a few moments of calm and peace is something we all deserve.
So how do you find that little piece of calm? Below are some suggestions. It can help to practice going into a calm place every day, or as often as you think about it, so that you can go there in times of stress—and so that you can prevent and relieve stress.
Creating Inner Calm
- Suggestion #1:Imagine an inner safe place you can go to where you feel calm. Try closing your eyes, and breathing slowly and deeply. Allow your body to relax. Now imagine a place inside you, where you can feel safe and calm—a beach, maybe, or a grassy hill, or a comfortable room.
What would you like to have there with you, that would help you feel safe and relaxed? Do you want to feel the sun on your skin, see fluffy white clouds above you in a blue sky? Do you want to be sitting on soft pillows and have a blanket to curl up in, or rest on a soft, swinging hammock? Imagine anything you want; it is your place. Really see yourself there—surrounded by things that make you feel good.
When you are in this place, you can leave all your worries and distractions behind. You can pick them up again when you leave, if you need to. But this room or place is your safe, calm place to go to; nothing can hurt you here. See and smell and hear and feel your safe place as fully as you can. Give it a name. And know that you can come back to this place any time you like.
- Suggestion #2:
Follow your breath; meditate. Make sure you’re seated comfortably. Relax your body. Close, or partially close your eyes with your gaze directed down, and pay attention to your breathing (not forcing yourself to change it). Pay attention to how your breathing feels in your body—how it feels entering and leaving your nostrils, how your rib cage expands and contracts, how your chest moves up and down as you breathe. Just keep following your breath. This encourages you to stay present with yourself and your body, and with the present, with this very moment.
Your mind will be busy with other thoughts, and want to take you elsewhere. That is okay. Notice your thoughts, and then gently direct your attention back to your breath. Whatever thoughts come up, just notice them, label them as thoughts, and then follow your breath. Gradually your busy thoughts will subside, you will find yourself more in the present, and you will find some inner calm.
- Suggestion #3:
Ground yourself in your physical surroundings, and connect to your body. Take a few minutes to notice the physical world around you. Use as many of your senses as you can. Feel the chair or surface you’re sitting on with your hands. Notice its texture. Notice how your body feels, sitting on something. Is what you’re sitting on hard or soft? Is there stiffness or an ache any where in your body? Shift your body until you’re comfortable.
Now breathe in the air around you, see if you can smell anything—perfume, food, pets, nature. Feel the temperature of the air on your skin, whether there’s any breeze. Look at something in front of you—really pay attention to its detail, to what makes it a whole—notice its colour, its shape, its texture. Try to imagine describing it to someone who cannot see it. Listen to the sounds around you; see how many you can name. Feel your feet placed firmly on the ground. Feel your chest rise and fall with your breath. Take time to really notice things, to experience them through your senses, and you will find yourself connecting back to your body and your self.
- Suggestion #4:
Find some calming sensory experiences. Do you have a smell that makes you feel calm and centered, or comforted? Perhaps a favourite smell from your childhood, a perfume from someone who was kind to you, a childhood toy, a beloved pet? Try to bring that smell forward in your mind, or find a way to re-experience that smell—buy yourself a small bottle of perfume or lotion, a box of crayons, whatever the good smell comes from. Or how about a smell from nature that brings calm, such as lavender or rose oil, the scent of a fresh orange or lemon (which is uplifting), crushed pine or fir leaves? How about a taste? Try putting a small amount of a pleasing taste in your mouth, and let it rest in your mouth, really notice how it feels when you swallow it.
Is there a colour that helps you feel calm and soothed? Try closing your eyes for a moment, and imagining that colour behind your eyes, or bathing your whole body. Or wear a piece of clothing with that colour. How about texture? Do you like feeling something soft against your skin? What kind of soft or hard? You can even cut a small square of fabric to rub between your fingers. Or smooth some natural lotion that smells and feels good, on your body. Lay a soft, cool eye pillow against your eyes.
Is there something you like to look at that helps you feel calm? A rock, a leaf, a gift from a friend? A favourite painting or photo, or something you like to imagine? Let yourself see it in your mind. How about sound? Does the sound of rain or the ocean help you feel calm? Imagine that sound, buy a tape with that sound, or promise yourself a trip to the lake or ocean. Find ways to bring calm to yourself through your senses, and you will find it’s worthwhile.
- Suggestion #5:
Write to connect to yourself, or get out what is bothering you. Write a poem, or just write whatever comes to you. Allow yourself to write freely, without censor or judgment; just keep writing until you’re ready to stop. If it helps to have a limit, set yourself to write for two minutes, or five, or whatever feels good to you.
Sometimes it helps to get out your emotion and worries; writing can help bring some release. If you find that it brings agitation, tell yourself that you are putting aside that emotion or worry for now, and that you will come back to it when you are ready and able to.
You may find that it helps to ask yourself what you need right now, or to dig a bit deeper and listen to that wise, calm part of yourself that you might not listen to all the time. You might want to write out a time where you felt loved and safe, remembering every scrap of detail you can bring back, and really feeling how you felt. Or you might want to write out what you need to feel that way now, or a completely imaginary place or time where you could feel that way. Let your mind go free. Writing is a safe way to connect with yourself and find some calm.
Every person will have a different way of connecting with that inner calm, and finding a feeling of safety and peace. The right way is the way that works for you. What’s important to know is that you deserve to find that calm place inside. You deserve to allow yourself to take a few minutes or a quarter of an hour each day to find some inner calm.
©Cheryl Rainfield, 2003
Written by Cheryl Rainfield, award-winning author of SCARS, STAINED, and HUNTED
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