Have you ever wondered why some people appear naturally happy? In grief, they acknowledge and feel their emotions rather than stuffing them down. In uncertainty, they pause to reflect before reacting. During challenging times, they greet each day with an open mind that things will shift and change, and they do.
What are their daily practices to stay centered and calm? Most adults are not characteristically calm; it’s something they have to practice. People who take regular mindful pauses during their day tend to be calmer and generally more peaceful. They resist over-scheduling themselves and set healthy boundaries for activity and rest, and make time for enjoyable, personally-recharging activities, also known as self-care. They build meaningful pauses into their day to recharge and restore as a healthy habit of mindfulness, staying purposefully connected to the present in a non-judgmental way.
In the course of human evolution, the mind is intelligent enough to run scenarios and prepare to defend, fight, argue, or run away. But your actual state is generally non-threatened. Like clouds in the sky, our thoughts arise, transform, and dissipate or dissolve. Worry arises because your mind is overactive; it tells you a storm is coming, so try to just sit back and watch the clouds. Often storms pass without incident. This is an important discernment when experiencing worry or anxiety, which usually arises from mental projections, not from what’s actually happening. Practicing regular mindful pauses is an important practice to experience a state of inner peace.
For the first few months following a health crisis nearly 20 years ago now, I dedicated myself to slowing down and taking better care of myself. But like most people, I was easily distracted. I felt like my mind was a mess of tangled knots and frayed loose threads. My first few weeks of mindfulness training were hard, but I was determined to practice yoga, breathing, and sitting still on a daily basis. When unresolved emotions would arise, I gave myself more time to process my feelings, and it got easier from then on. I also incorporated simple rituals into my life such as lighting a candle, preparing tea, and taking a fortnightly bubble bath.
Peace and calm are natural outcomes of emptying out the unnecessary and unhelpful baggage of the heart and mind. In this way meditation is like tending a garden: before the vegetables come to ripen, the soil must be weeded and cleared. The seeds must be sown with plenty of patience. Our sitting time in breathing and yoga is the sun and water for our seeds to germinate. Over time, persistence will yield you a sunny forecast with fewer clouds.
Kristen Lee Fewel is a freelance writer, reiki master, and yoga teacher with a passion for healthy living and positive energy