Beat Stress By Katie Steedly Curling Calmness is the cradle of power Josiah Gilbert Holland Some people amaze me. They smile in the midst of the biggest challenges, breathe into both joy and struggle, and dance during whatever song is being played, as if the rhythm of life asks no less of them. They are simply calm. We all want to be those people. We all want to know what it feels like to not automatically lose it when the going gets tough. We want to be ships handling rough seas like all seas are peaceful waters. We want to cultivate calm. My individual search to know calm has involved doing yoga, taking stock of relationships, and goal setting. I’ve not always been successful. I’ve left my yoga mat in the closet. My buttons have been pushed and I have not taken that breath when interacting with family and friends. I have let my anger at a particular event take me to an agitated place. I have let my goals be more about being right, or certain, or best. So, what can you do to know calm? Here are 5 things you can try. 1. Breathe You can return to your breath. You can close your eyes and simply breathe. This might sound very easy, but in the midst of tension, intentional breath can be the last thing that comes to mind. When you remember to breathe, your body relaxes, your pulse slows, your mind clears, and issues do not seem quite as big. Sometimes it takes several minutes. Sometimes it takes walking. Sometimes it takes listening to music. Whatever it takes, breath helps. 2. Pay Attention You can pay attention to things that calm you down. Surrounding yourself in comforting things like pictures of loved ones, mementos from trips and meaningful events, and flowers can help. Noticing how others navigate the world and trying to learn from them can help. Taking time to notice the world around you, especially the ordinary, common, and routine things that become so much a part of the landscape of life that often they go unnoticed can help. Paying attention can help you create an environment that celebrates calm. 3. Balance Work and Play You can go through phases when you are better at balance than others. You have spurts of intense focus and production. You can run so fast that by the time you stop you are completely paralyzed by exhaustion. Exhaustion is different than calm. Distance running can teach you a great deal about balance. Knowing and respecting your pace is key to distance running. It is easier to be calm when the pace of life moves with a steady even stride, rather than a perpetual sprint. Starting the race too fast never works. Giving it all in the middle of the race is not the answer. Saving it all for then end leaves you trying to catch up to achieve your best time. Pace makes finding balance easier. 4. Practice Gratitude Gratitude is a key to calm. Saying thank you, writing a note, or making a phone call can make a big difference. In stopping to acknowledge the kindness of others, you are stopping the flood of negative emotions. In practicing gratitude, the grip of whatever is holding on tight to your head or your heart is loosened. Gratitude is closely related to generosity. Generosity is an act of gratitude for the gifts you have been given, for the blessings that surround you, and for the desire to support loving acts in the world. Calm grows from reaching outside of yourself. 5. See The Glass Half Full Positivity is a choice. We have a choice to be positive, and that choice can lead to being calm. We can put ourselves in positive situations. We can hang out with positive people. We can make positive choices about what we eat, spend, watch on TV, talk about with others, think about, and even listen to on the radio. Positivity remedies anxiety. Positivity counteracts fear. Positivity keeps anger at bay. A positive place is a calm place. Everyday Calm How do you take these steps toward calm in your everyday life? Is it possible to take that second before reacting? Can you stop yelling and start breathing? Calm is measured in inches, maybe even centimeters. You crawl toward calm, eventually being able to stand firmly once your muscles have developed. You find your way slowly to calm: experience by experience, decision by decision, reaction by reaction, breath by breath. It is not an end state. It is not something you achieve once and stay there. It comes and goes. There are never perfect conditions for calm, only situations in which barriers to calm are reduced. The trick is to learn with each step and make each fall a little less painful, loud, and bruising. Step by step, you can know calm. What is your experience of being calm? Please share in the comments. About the Author: Katie Steedly blogs at KatieSteedly.com. Check out her more inspirational posts there.