Calm down! Don't worry! Just relax!

How irritating and un-soothing these words can be; and how many times have I heard people (guilty as charged) say this to others when they are suffering? It’s not so easy, as you probably know - to calm the waters. The other day I was in the Vitamin Barn when a woman walked up to the counter and picked up a box that said, "Let Go," and with such raw vulnerability, said to the woman at the counter, "Does this work?" Everyone wants to be happy, but few know how to create it.

What if I were to say to you that happiness has less to do with what our outer circumstances are and more to do with our thoughts about our outer circumstances? Perhaps you’ve heard this before, and this is where some of you may roll your eyes and disconnect. We think to ourselves, “Sure, I’d be happy if only I had a better relationship, if only I had fame and money, or greater meaning and purpose, or deeper Spiritual realization.” Another one I often here is, "If only I had more time."

If only…

We all want the recipe for happiness.

As my beloved Saint Yogananda says, “Happiness is becoming the king to your kingdom.” Or for those of you who are gender sensitive, “becoming the queen to your queendom.” Male or female, it means to become the master over your thoughts and tame your mind.

This is the Iron Chef's recipe for tasting one’s happiness.

It’s our human nature to want happiness but believe that it’s outside of us – if only I could win the lotto, then I’d be happy. And it’s our conditioning to be distracted from uncomfortable and painful feelings such as anxiety, restlessness, and anger. And now that we have such a multitude of ways to distract ourselves - from texting to facebook…don’t get me started…it’s even more challenging to reign in our wild mind.

The untamed mind is like a blind person without limbs trying to ride a wild stallion. Not an easy task, but if you can stabilize your thoughts and calm your mind, you will absolutely feel more equanimity and joy.

So don’t just do something. Sit there.

People say to me all of the time, “teach me how to meditate.” I am not a meditation teacher, however I am a person who has benefited greatly from learning to reign in my inner wild stallion – if only just a bit. And taming this wild horse of a mind and developing concentration is a win win for everyone; you and everyone around you benefits.

My last blog was September of 2013. I had written about my experience meditating and the equanimity it allowed me. The day I posted it, my family and I got into a serious car accident and I broke my ribs. Lying in the ambulance reeling in pain I had a hit for the first time of what happens when this is tested out in real life. Not just these more familiar tests of fighting with a loved one, but laying there in pain with my daughter who was in terror, screaming and crying to get out of the ambulance. Could I remain calm and connected despite the habitual and life long response to feel hysteria?

For a long time I had mastered “talking my talk” when it came to living a spiritual life. And only over the last few years have I begun to “walk my talk” and begin consistently putting these teachings into practice on the spot in good and difficult times. It isn’t enough to study about something. I spent the last thirty years studying different systems of truth. And, all of them have in common that you have to create stillness, a time 'To Be’, so the lushness can grow organically and spontaneously from deep in your bones. The poet Rumi asks, “Do you pay regular visits to yourself?” For me, these daily regular visits fall smack into the, “I can’t live without it” category. So the long-winded answer is, yes, I can remain calm and connected despite my habits. And so can you.

It doesn’t matter what is going on in your world. Yes, it is certainly easier to begin calming your mind when you are not in a crisis. But despite your life's outer storms and inner earthquakes, anyone can begin cultivating this practice at any time.

An old boyfriend of mine went to prison for a few years when he was in his twenties. He was lost and made some rather bad choices as many of us do in that decade of our lives. This was before I had met him. One day, he was outside his prison cell when he happened to meet a guard who worked in the outdoor yard. Recognizing his complete fear and sensitivity, the guard told him that if he didn’t learn to train his mind, he would go crazy in there.

“I don’t know how to meditate,” my ex said. “That’s fine, follow your breath,” the guard counseled. “Just focus on that.” And so he did. So over the next three years he learned how to follow his breath, and he learned how to reign in his wandering stallion of a mind, breath by breath, moment by moment. He did this over and over again until a state of calm came over him. It took a few months, but he began to notice that the calm he felt inside of himself was so much greater than anything he had known when he lived out in the world.

Today, he runs a meditation center in the mountains and is a beautiful and caring teacher with the sole purpose of being in service to others. He was my first real Spiritual teacher, and when I met him, I remember thinking, "I want what he has," because no one else I had known had the depth of kindness and compassion that poured through his soulful eyes. A king in his own right.

Twenty years later and a lot less worry, this well of calm and compassion continues to deepen in me. And though I'm not the greatest cook, I do have the recipe that helps to build the well of equanimity. But let's not kid ourselves; I’d still love to win the lottery.

Author's Bio: 

I am a licensed psychotherapist and lifelong student of what I call, “All things Om” (anything that connects me to the Spiritual realm). I help others to develop a mindfulness practice, which means to learn how to be with 'what is' and experience greater joy. I am known in my circles as a wife (married to an extraordinary human), a beyond grateful mother, a sister and daughter, an auntie, and a soul-mate to my soul-sister friends. All of these relationships sustain me deeply, and because of them I am very blessed to be able to live my life’s purpose, which is to grow my heart and consciousness infinitely bigger one moment at a time.