YES–you can be the eye of the hurricane! With chaos swarming you from all sides of life it seems impossible to reclaim your calm from any place (or at any time in the near future). You can do it (even science says so!).
Most of us believe we are in control of our emotions — right? Yet, upon deeper observation, we also know that is not true. I mean, come on…. if it were, which of us would not instruct our feelings to always be happy and relaxed all the time. The reality is, we are stressed by daily responsibilities that leave us plunging into negative moods we are helpless over which makes thinking about how to reclaim your calm from any place distant reality so far, far away, it is more a fairy tale than a reality.
Why is this? Well, a lot of reasons are related to The Age of Big Data we live in. We are beholden to a fast-paced-know-it-all-life and the countless distractions and demand and constant attention that come with it. If you are like me, you look forward to holidays so that your mind can take a break from this barrage of distractions. I began wondering, why I believe there is no alternative. It turns out, I was not the only one thinking about this. Science is, too.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a science-based study. Its finding is garnering popularity. This is not surprising. Stress-inducing factors are faced by most of us in our increasingly fast-moving world. Mindfulness-based stress reduction involves meditation, body awareness and yoga practice. Harvard Medical School research shows mindfulness helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression. This is great! But what exactly is mindfulness and how does it help one find inner calm?
Mindfulness in the Present
The practice of mindful living is based on keeping one’s attention in the present moment. Our minds are often buffeted by waves of past or future thoughts, giving rise to a variety of feelings. Thus, our feelings and attention are often grabbed by thoughts that have nothing to do with the present moment. So, how can we keep ourselves aware of the present moment?
Our body is a great resource for keeping our attention to the present moment. Many forms of yoga have evolved from hatha yoga. Yoga as an ancient practice is focused on the training of the mind, by being aware of one’s body. The ability to maintain one’s attention in the present while holding a yoga pose brings calm to both the mind and body – this is the reason why yoga produces healthful benefits: a calm mind produces a healthy body.
Holding a yoga pose allows one to look directly at the many feelings and thoughts that pass through one’s mind. If the mind doesn’t cling to comfort and accepts all the discomfort brought about by the pose, one experiences release and calm in whatever yoga pose one performs. How is this helpful for life’s stress? Although we make an intention to hold a yoga pose despite its comfort or discomfort, life throws challenges without a warning. We a regular training in yoga, we learn to see life’s stress and let it go, just as we let go of attachment to comfort or laxity when doing yoga.
In addition to practising yoga regularly, awareness of the body can be extended through daily routines. Our bodies are always coming into contact with objects. For example, when you are sitting in a chair, be mindful of the contact your body is making with various parts of the seat. Likewise, when you change our position, we can keep our minds attentive to how and when we change our bodily postures.
Peace in silence
Peace comes from the mind, not the body. Taking the time and making effort for yoga practice and mindful living, one would in time find it easy to sit quietly without the need for any distraction in the form of entertainment such as music or television. While it is easy to find relaxation in places that provide peaceful settings such as spa resorts, we are never far from reacting to stress. The above practices are an alternative to finding peace without running away from life, but facing all of what life has to give in the present moment.
Contributed by, Maisie Loh for Jal Yoga