I have tried so many things in an effort to learn how to stay calm. I have always wanted to be one of those people who seems to just take things in stride, who is even keeled no matter what’s going on around them. I have always wanted equanimity in my life.
But it was elusive. I’d find myself flustered at best, and flying off the handle at worst. I found myself frustrated that people never knew what to expect from me. They never knew how I was going to react to any situation because it was completely dependent on my “mood” on any given day, and my mood was completely dependent on the circumstances around me. I was a leaf in the wind, blowing whichever way the breeze took me.
I had heard meditation could help me find the peace, clarity and equanimity I was searching for, but my mind wouldn’t slow down, my thoughts wouldn’t stop, and at the time that’s what I thought meditation was… so I decided I couldn’t do it, and quit.
As time went on, meditation just kept coming back into my life. I learned new things ~ the most important of which is meditation is NOT about getting rid of all your thoughts, it’s about training your focus to be on your breath. The whole practice is about about coming back… thoughts are to be expected, in fact, they’re necessary to give you practice coming back from something. It didn’t take long for me to develop a short morning meditation routine that I loved. I felt divine during those “morning minutes”. The problem was as soon as I got up the crazy just came right back!
The next thing I learned was mindfulness. How staying present in the moment could help me keep that feeling from my morning minutes… and it totally worked! The problem was, I kept forgetting to remember to stay in the moment. I was about to give up again, when I came across some resources that helped me realize I could find things to “anchor” my remembering to through out the day. Simple things, things that already happen every day. I could tie these little things to my mindfulness practice, and then I started remembering to remember.
Here’s an example:
2. When the microwave dings.
If you listen, you’ll hear the world is filled with bells. Each one can act as a reminder to remember. You see, the thing about mindfulness in every day life is the remembering. It’s not hard to be mindful for a moment, the trick is remembering to do it. Start listening for dings, and bells in your world. These are your reminders to remember. The microwave is one of my favorite reminders. I’m usually standing there, in front of it, waiting. Which is the perfect opportunity to remember to be mindful. Those times when you find yourself waiting are always opportunities to remember to breathe.
Mindfulness Practice: When you hear the microwave ding, whether you’re champing at the bit to get your first cup of coffee or you’re in the middle of creating dinner for your family and have tons of noise and interruptions, stop and breathe. Take one, two or three breaths. You’re breathing anyway, might as well take a moment to notice and connect. It doesn’t take but a second to actually pay attention to it. Feel the breath coming in and going out. Where do you feel it? By your nose? In the way your stomach moves when you inhale? It can be as simple as saying to yourself, I am breathing in. I am breathing out. That moment of mindfulness will help connect you to all that is, your center, your place of peace.
I started playing around with these every day reminders. I came up with 50, tweaked them, played around with them, tested them out, and found quite a few that stuck. Now I have well spaced reminders through out the day, and find myself much more calm, and able to handle situations with equanimity and compassion. The people around me are starting to expect calm and rational reactions, no matter what the situation. I have finally learned to how to stay calm.
I’ve put all 50 of the opportunities for mindfulness in a book. The example above is an excerpt from my book. You’ll find the other 49 are just as simple, and relatable. It is my hope that you’ll find 5 or 10 that will stick with you and remind you to remember through the day, and that you’ll find the calm you are searching for.