By Dawna Matthews:
“Enjoy this moment
drop everything and simply be
a sacred pause
relax into the wave of your breath”- Shiva Rea
I just returned from a week of vacation, and feel lighter and yet grounded; I feel peaceful. What was the difference between that week and the one before? Why do I feel so tranquil? How can I maintain this feeling of overall bliss?
We live in a high energy and often chaotic, distracting world. Thoughts, the many to-do lists, how we could have done something differently — these factors all create stress. They make finding peace within ourselves and finding a moment to just be still seem harder. We get so wrapped up in everyday life that we forget to stop and look around once in a while. By the end of the year, we are caught up in holiday festivities and have become a ball of nervous, anxious, tired stress. As I reflect on my current state of being and my vacation or other times throughout the year when I have felt peaceful, I realize I can cultivate peace every day by including certain habits daily.
Find Stillness Every Day: Stillness is not something many of us are familiar with. Stillness is just simply being in a state of calm and being
with your thoughts and feelings in the present moment. You can achieve stillness through whatever calls you to that place. I find my moment of stillness in the early morning hours before anyone else in my house is awake. I sit and have a cup of tea or coffee, and just sit and watch the world outside or listen to what sounds surround me. I find that when I do this for 5-10 minutes, it makes all the difference — I stress less, sleep well and wake up relaxed. What is awesome is that it is different for every person — a walk outside, drawing or washing dishes — can all bring stillness and allow you to experience the moment. And in that stillness, your mind quiets and you can hear your heart’s song.
Just Breathe: One of the easiest, most effective ways to be in the present moment is to focus on the breath. It is such a simple and involuntary movement, yet so profound. Simply breathe in. Breathe out. Find ways to connect to your breath. Maybe it’s sitting and counting 1,2,3 on the inhale and 1,2,3 on the exhale for 10 breaths. Maybe it’s walking and noticing your steps. Maybe it’s just noticing what your senses are experiencing in the here and now. This is your moment to just breathe and be you; and in that moment, reconnect and restore yourself and feel tranquility fill you up.
Reduce Stress in Your Life: Many of us have added stress in our lives and don’t realize we can greatly reduce, even remove, these sources of chaos and cultivate peace in our lives and the lives of others. Here are some simple ways to reduce stress in your life:
1) Wake up 10-30 minutes earlier. I have found this one change reduces frantic energy in myself and my family. I am no longer rushing around in the morning or allowing myself to feel “late.” 2) Plan in advance when possible. This can be a calendar for your appointments or even for meals. For me, having a flexible guideline for what I’m going to cook for the week has drastically reduced stress levels for me. I have better time management and organization, and don’t fret over the details about what to cook when I get home. 3) Go to Your Happy Place — Close your eyes and visualize something that makes you happy: as in the Sound of Music, think of whiskers on kittens, a sunset on the beach, snow covered mountains — whatever brings you happiness. Just see it in your mind, and breathe it in for a few rounds of breath. Focusing your mind on the powerful, magical, beautiful parts of life will help you smile, and stress will begin to melt away.
Share in the Groove: Have you ever noticed that when you are with someone who is calm and tranquil you often feel the same way? Peace is not just a feeling or a thought but a living vibration. When we bring peace to ourselves, we bring healing and transformation to our thoughts, speech, and action. This then acts as a ripple and we reach out to families and loved ones, bringing peace to them as well as the world. I try to perform a peace practice every night before I go to sleep. This is a variation of a meditation taught by Deepak Chopra on the Seven Spiritual Practices of Peace. I close my eyes and repeat the words “peace” and “love,” then I send that to myself. I repeat “peace” and “love” again, but this time I send it to someone I know and care about. I repeat “peace” and “love” again, then send it to someone I may not know or someone with whom I am having tense relations. Lastly, I repeat “peace” and “love,” and project them to the world as far as my mind will visualize. This practice not only creates a calm and present vibration within myself but also spreads that sense of peace to the world. If we all practice peace, “Together we can help create a peaceful, just, sustainable and healthy world.” – Deepak Chopra
I realized this past week that when I was actively living peace through these techniques at various times of my day, I felt relaxed and restored. I felt calm yet energized. I was at peace. By engaging in one or all of these techniques, we can create a world of peace, light and love to all in this moment, today and in the New Year.
What are some ways you bring peace to yourself and the world?