Looking inside for peace and calm
Have you ever been looking forward to something for a long time, like a promotion or a vacation? Then, it arrives, and you feel empty and unchanged. Or, have you ever thought, I'll feel much better/more calm/less stressed, once I do X. As human beings, we are focused on the future, and it's so hard to truly live in the present. We also tend to focus on the external instead of our internal sense of self and calm. Without realizing it, we can live for the next latte, dinner out, fun experience, trip, or time with friends or family. Or, we can tie our self-worth to things like the number of salads we had this week; our performance with work projects; the most minute details of our appearance, or our recent or past mistakes.
How do we fill in the spaces and parts of our lives that exist in between the fun moments, so we can feel a stable sense of calm and self-worth? Practicing mindfulness and truly living in the present is how we work on this. By living in the exact moment, you are in and not letting the past or future flow in, you are able to more truly see your experience. Because you are more focused, it's like the feeling of putting on a new glasses’ prescription. Things are bright and in focus. It's easier to feel gratitude and take in the joys around you because you are only focused on your current experience.
Meditation is another tool that truly helps increase your happiness and overall sense of calm in daily life. I've heard meditation is the only time our brains truly get to relax. They are busy all the time, even when we are sleeping. Meditation helps you slow down and clear your mind and body. As you focus on your breath, you are taking in healthy oxygen and washing away the stress that coats your mind. The more you do this practice, the more your mind craves it, and the more it helps.
Not sure where to start with meditating? It might be easiest to start with a few minutes at first and work your way up to a longer span of time. You can start by sitting in a comfortable place and closing your eyes. Then, take the next few minutes to simply follow in your breath. Focus on your inhales and exhales. You can set a timer on your phone, so you don't have to worry about the time.
This can be challenging at first, because we are so used to going nonstop, so it can feel odd and difficult to just sit and be. Think of it as giving your mind a vitamin. Breathing and relaxing helps your brain refocus and will fill you with a sense of calm. I was also very happy to recent learn that those who regularly meditate and make it a consistent practice for years usually look significantly younger than those of the same age who do not meditate. I've found the best way to make it a habit is to associate it with another part of my day. For example, I meditate for a few minutes when I first wake up in the morning or in the evening after my daughter goes to sleep.
Your life is a beautiful collection or moments and memories, and your worthiness is not determined by numbers on a scale or your ability to express yourself. I find holding tight to mindfulness, gratitude, and faith helps me navigate the smooth and choppy waters of daily life, and I hope they also help you. If you try to take on these new practices, give yourself grace and realize all new things take time to learn.
Carmel, California one of my favorite places. I frequently picture it during meditation.