Sunday, October 6, 2013

How to be More Calm and Peaceful

Emotions and changes in emotions, as well as changes in our mental, physical, and spiritual states, are all very important and crucial to our human experience. We need to experience that change to grow and explore and expand, but if we only live in a state of volatile change, we will never truly grow and expand because we have weak roots. A tree without strong roots just falls over and is knocked out of the ground- it is uprooted. Without its roots securely planted in the ground, the tree loses its source of stability and nourishment- therefore it ceases to grow and dies. But a strong tree with deep roots can withstand the changes in weather and seasons and continue to stand tall and grow and provide its uses and beauty to the world.

I believe that a state of calm and peace is linked to a stable grounding. One with deep roots can withstand many changes in condition- but one with deep roots is also still enough to feel the tiniest changes and derive whatever needs to be derived from those changes. One constantly in motion is in too chaotic a state to experience the mild, subtle and often beautiful changes the world has to offer.

In order to deepen our roots and allow calmness and peacefulness to fill our experience and existence, we need to address tension. Tension makes us move unnecessarily, it makes us constantly uncomfortable. It drives us to keep moving and taking action when we really don't need to be, and it makes us unstable. There are multiple levels of tension we must address.

Physical Tension
Often we carry tension throughout our entire bodies without even noticing its presence. Is your face tense right now as you read this? Is your forehead relaxed or is it scrunched up? Are you creating tension in your spine by slouching over in a misaligned position? Is your jaw or fist clenched?
Often we carry tension in our bodies due to poor alignment and lack of support, as well as unreleased thoughts and feelings. A supported body is a body that can go through life and motion with ease and grace- in order to have a supported body, one must have a strengthened and nurtured body. Exercise regularly- whether it be walking, hiking, yoga, weightlifting, swimming, etc- the body was designed to move. Read up on proper form and do what feels good and comes with ease when engaging your body regularly.
We also carry suppressed emotions in our body. If you've been angry or sad or nervous for a while, your body will also hang onto those emotions. Give yourself the time and attention to address those issues with deep breathing and an open, forgiving mindset.

Mental Tension
Often mental tension ensues due to stress and unresolved problems our brain is constantly trying to solve. Tension also arises from living in the past or future- our resistance to the present causes tension. Journaling about our thoughts and feelings as well as reading/listening about other people's experiences in similar situations often helps us reduce that mental tension and connect with the present moment.
Often mental tension also arises from not thinking deeply about something stressing us out- in this case, one must address their problems instead of putting off confrontation.

Mental tension also results from obsession- this obsession comes from over-attachment. To combat over-attachment, one must cultivate connection with themselves and the present- thus cultivating self sufficiency and a sense of allowing balanced with decisiveness. This concept will be elaborated upon in a future post.

Emotional Tension
This is closely linked to mental tension- unresolved, over-attached, and unconfronted emotions plague us and cause us to create resistance to the present and to our inner flow. In order to combat emotional tension, we must address our suppressed feelings and also let go of the feelings we've been feeding. This process is greatly supported by journal writing, self nurturing, and a good physical outlet- like exercise. When embarking on this journey, just remember that one is not the sum of their emotions or physical sensations or thoughts. Be gentle and do not over-identify with any aspects of the journey and the calmness will find you quite easily.

Spiritual Tension
Spiritual tension is created by misalignment with our beliefs. Maybe you are practicing the beliefs of a religion you do not feel aligned with. Maybe you feel like you need to explore certain beliefs. Maybe you are over-analyzing certain beliefs. This spiritual tension often arises from dogmatic, extremist approaches to religion/ spirituality. You are not a bad person for not truly believing in what your family/community/culture is comfortable with you believing in.

Allow the Peace and Calm to Find You
Be receptive to peace and calm. Don't overidentify with the changes or your past or future or whatever notions are causing resistance to just letting the present moment be. Don't try too hard or too fast- practice finding the ease. Breathe into the parts that need attention and create space. This process is like a stretch for your entire being. Gentle stretch out the tightness and strengthen your roots in the process. Don't overthink the process- just allow it to happen and believe it will, and you will connect with the present more and more.

All the love and all the peace,