It is especially hard these days to maintain a center of equilibrium amid the pressures and stresses of daily life. It’s difficult to escape reading or hearing stories and murky pieces of information that bring us down, making us question the sanity of the world and the viability of our own futures. We long for supportive connections with others, loving communities, and homes where we can escape from the chaos and bad news.
A constant diet of sadness and fearful information over time produces an unconscious but continuous state of psychological fear. Psychological fear keeps us in an artificial state of hyper vigilance so that we’re ready to defend ourselves at any moment. This fear never lets up. It causes us to hold our muscles and tendons in a continuous state of tension. Worry and concern line our faces and get stored in our internal organs. All kinds of diseases can take hold, and often do, because what is really happening is that we are compromising our immune systems. The energy that would normally go to repairing and healing our bodies is instead going to holding the tension and the negativity we can’t express and instead repress.
What does all of this fight or flight behavior achieve? It serves all of those things we worry might happen but research says 90% of the time never do. In other words, it serves nothing at all but causing us harm.
Once we choose to recognize the importance of addressing our psychological fear, we can open our hearts to practices and states of mind and body that allow us to step back from disease. It allows us to breathe, replenish ourselves, and find peace and contentment. This way of separating ourselves from the clamor outside to the peace within us, I like to call calm abiding.
Calm abiding is being aware of our personal needs and feelings, thereby allowing us to choose healthy feelings, thoughts and actions. When we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, we can choose the ones that make us feel whole and complete. Calm abiding allows us to embrace the wisdom of our self-worth and the unique value we bring to the world. It offers us the option to bring more hope, love and joy to every decision we make and action we take. Calm abiding means we can choose to say no to the thoughts and actions that make us feel inadequate and less than ourselves. It means we can open our eyes to love and healthy supportive relationships and communities which are actually in greater supply and abundance than we are led to believe. We are encouraged to contribute to making the world better when we can see the opportunities around us and the ways many people and organizations are already working to improve things we care deeply about.
So how can you practice calm abiding? There are many methods around and each person will find themselves moving toward the one or two practices that work best for them. The most important elements to keep in mind when beginning a new practice are:
1. What practice helps you relax the most deeply and completely?
2. Which one gives you the greatest gift/benefit in terms of how you feel at the conclusion of each session?
3. Which choice are you most likely to engage in consistently so it becomes a habit?
4. (tip: close to home or work, quiet/non-distracting environment, best time of day)
5. Are you willing and ready to do whatever is necessary to relax, calm your mind, and build psychological health?
6. How important to you on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being less and 10 being more), is finding a relaxation technique? If it’s less than 8, you’re not ready.
There are many calm abiding practices available, from yoga,exercise, visualization techniques, changing your inner self talk, tai chi, chi gong and many more. But when it comes to effectiveness over time and the greatest bang for your effort buck, meditation has been found to be the greatest vehicle to finding true relaxation, calm abiding, the true nature of things, and spiritual transformation.
A good way to begin your meditation practice is to find a class in your community (there usually are some) and begin meditating with a group. This will give you the support and instruction to successfully develop a practice of your own. There are many good meditation books out there as well and I would recommend you go to a local book store and look through the volumes on meditation until you find the one you like. I have found that people tend to have vastly different likes, dislikes and needs when it comes to meditation books, so you are better off browsing on your own. If you choose to begin meditating on your own, here are some tips:
1. Sitting quietly in a comfortable position on a chair or floor cushion, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Let your thoughts come and go – noticing how they fall away as you think them. Don’t force – just surrender to time and space; this is a natural organic process that needs no help from you.
2. Find the time of day when you can experience the fewest distractions, and you are the most relaxed.
3. Meditate in the same place each time – you can use candles, incense and soft music to set the mood.
4. Start with 10 to 15 minutes each day and build longer meditations as you can.
5. Meditate the same time, same place and same way each time – consistency is important.
Carol Gignoux, M.Ed. is a well-established expert within the ADHD coaching, consulting and training profession with 35 years of hands-on ADHD experience and over 16 years as a professional coach. Carol and her team of experts specialize in coaching adults, couples, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. Clients of her business, ADD Insights, LLC, are empowered to move their businesses from underperforming to extraordinary, and learn to develop the skills to achieve better results at school, at work and in relationships. Carol is currently writing her book, The Asset: Your Success Gene and the Myth of ADD. She can be reached at 617-524-7670 or at Carol@Addinsights.com.