“One of the best lessons you can learn in life is to master how to remain calm.” ~Catherine Pulsifer
You wake up and not long after opening your eyes and hitting the snooze button, the monkey mind starts. The thoughts start rushing in. What day is it, what time is it, where do I need to be, what activities do the kids have after school, should I get up and exercise, or should I check my email first, or maybe I’ll eat breakfast first. Oh, the dog is staring at me, I’ll let the dog out first. I was going to exercise and do that gratitude stuff but let me just check that one email. Oh no, look at the time - how did an hour slip away checking email. I’m going to be late, I’ll exercise later. You continue along busily throughout the day, and your mind never stops as you take calls, get involved in work or other tasks, check emails, reply to texts and run the regular rat race. In between all of the day’s activities, your mind is already on to the next to-do item, reliving something in the past or chattering on incessantly about something in the present.
The monkey chatter of our mind is an ever-present distraction that pervades almost every second, every minute, every hour of our lives. The mind can be like a toddler that never takes a nap. Toddlers are amazing but they need a nap and we need a break otherwise energy levels dip, the tiredness sets in and the mood swings begin. Our bodies and minds are connected so if the mind starts to get weary and unhappy, we get worn down until it affects our mood, happiness, and eventually our health.
It is literally mad that many of us don’t slow down, as a life lived without stillness can ultimately cause illness. The non-stop, chaos, distractions, technology, ads and messages coming at us constantly and the hurriedness of life are just overwhelming at times.
“Mind is like a mad monkey.” ~ Sathya Sai Baba
The solution to avoiding illness: Stillness.
Being calm, letting the mind be still, and taking time outs is an integral part of our overall wellness. Stillness allows moments to pause, to be aware and present to everything and everyone, decreases stress and increases feelings of peace and contentment. Stillness and keeping calm can also have a positive effect on your health and the research is growing every year about the benefits of regular meditation. There are many ways to meditate and the breathing practice I share here is just one way to flip the switch and learn to relax.
Throughout the day, take a few moments to try this breathing technique: If you can close your eyes great, if not you can still do this throughout the day whenever and wherever you are. With your mouth closed, breathe in through your nostrils for a count of five very slowly, then hold at the top and say to yourself “I AM Calm”, release slowly and breathe out to a count of five, and notice the breath as you breathe in and out. You can do this once or repeat several times.
It’s like hitting the pause button when you’re watching TV. It is an intentional action that puts life on hold for just a moment. It is simple, and it works. Practice this throughout the day and also find times and places that you can sit with your eyes closed and you will start to welcome and enjoy this time for a mindset reset. You can increase the calm breathing from a few seconds to a few minutes as you learn to be still for longer periods of time.
The opposite of stress is calm. Research has found many health problems related to stress. Stress not only causes illness but can worsen symptoms of conditions you already have. Studies have shown that calming mindfulness and meditation practices increase your risk of getting sick in the first place and decrease the symptom severity when you do get sick from the common cold or flu for example.
So let’s add more calm and less stress and chaos into your life to avoid the following 5 illnesses:
If you are already living with any of the above illnesses, calm mindfulness and meditation have also been shown to assist people in managing the symptoms of the above conditions and other illnesses such as asthma, cancer, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems, and tension headaches.
This is a very easy technique, really simple, and it’s up to you to find the time to be still and quiet throughout the day, as much as you can.
Instead of jumping out of bed immediately, pull yourself up to seated so you don’t fall back asleep, and be still for a few moments focusing on your breath.
If you are intentional about adding this practice to your day, you will start to look for opportunities. Take a moment in the morning, take another moment after you exercise, take a break from your computer or phone and just close your eyes to breathe and be still.
There is no special place or special time this needs to be done. Anytime, anywhere, anyhow you choose to practice being calm is the best place and time. Like any habit, once it becomes part of your everyday life, you will look forward to it.
Discovering this new place inside you will change your life for the better. You will unlock and open areas of your mind that you didn’t know existed. You will begin to look better, feel better, communicate better and move through your day with a new outlook on life.
Open the door to your inner self through finding stillness. Don’t just open the door, walk through it and live there as much as you can. Like anything, practice makes perfect and if at first, you don’t succeed, keep trying. Meditation and mindfulness are practices. You will learn over time how to move from being still and quiet for more than just a few seconds. With little habits come lasting change.
“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” ~ Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
When we live life in a hurried state, it stresses us out and that energy we are projecting affects those around us also. Being calm and peaceful has a calming effect on those around you and that calming energy will radiate out into the world. Living life at a slower pace and incorporating more relaxing moments will not only help you avoid and manage illnesses but will also allow you to become more aware, present and mindful in all areas of your life.
This won’t be easy at first. You will need to remind yourself to breathe and be calm. You will need to tell yourself “I AM Calm”. It may feel weird at first because it is new but things that take us out of our comfort zone will take us to new levels of growth. And, when you start noticing how you are feeling better, and others start noticing the changes in you, and you start noticing that your health is improved - then you will be all the better for making the effort and adding another tool in your belt towards a better you, better life.