We all experience moments of calmness and moments of stress in our lives. What happened during the pandemic, for example, likely caused far more of the latter, but of course, the former is much more desirable. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could have more of the positive moments and wondering how to keep a calm state of mind, then meditation is a tool you should consider investigating.
Perhaps you believe that you’re unable to meditate because your mind wanders too much. Maybe you’ve tried to focus on breathing, but then you remembered something you had to do, or something that’s wrong in your life, or something you forgot to purchase at the store. It’s likely you’ve become dismayed and felt like you were failing at meditation. Consider this: It’s perfectly normal for your mind to wander. Even better, every time you realize that your mind has wandered, and you bring it back to focusing on your breathing, you’re making yourself that much better at meditation and that much more likely to keep a calm mind.
Following are a few calm mind exercises you can utilize. Each only takes a few seconds to do, but you may discover that you enjoy them so much, you want to use them longer. You can choose one or some over others, or you can use them all together. However you decide to do it, I truly hope you’ll make use of these techniques, as they are quite effective in helping one to keep a calm state of mind.
Imagine that when you inhale, you’re drawing your breath all the way down to the bottom of your abdomen, to the area below your navel. Of course, your lungs don’t go that far down, they stop above the bottom of your rib cage; however, if you imagine that you’re breathing into the bottom of your abdomen, so that it expands as you inhale, you’re engaging your diaphragm, which causes your lungs to fill properly. Most of us breathe in such a way that our chests and shoulders move. That’s enough to keep you alive, of course, but it’s shallow breathing.
One of the changes your body makes automatically when you’re stressed, anxious, or panicked is to breathe more shallowly. Therefore, you have a subconscious association to shallow breathing and these negative states. So when you breathe as most of us normally do, you’re far more likely to experience stress or anxiety with the slightest trigger. Breathing properly helps keep you out of those states. If you’ve ever watched the way a sleeping baby breathes, you may have noticed that the stomach rises and falls. Apparently, we arrive on the planet with the natural ability to breathe properly, but when we begin to sit and stand up, our breathing shifts up as well.
Once you’ve got the hang of proper breathing, consider adding Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Begin by closing your eyes, breathing properly, and relaxing your body as much as possible. Focus your attention on your toes. Notice how relaxed and calm they are. Allow that feeling of relaxation to drift slowly into your feet. Very gradually, direct this calmness to flow up your body in very small increments (your ankles, your lower legs, your knees, your upper legs, etc.). Keep your focus on each small area until it is fully relaxed. Don’t advance to the next area until it is. Give special attention to your shoulders and neck which have a tendency to hold on to tension. By the time you reach the crown of your head, you’ll likely find yourself feeling calmer both physically and mentally. If you’re not, do a slow mental scan of your body, and if you find any area that needs extra relaxation, send it there. Repeat until you’re completely calm and relaxed.
Once you’re feeling completely relaxed, consider using this meditation for inner peace. First, imagine that you’re standing before a lovely, closed door. You’re completely safe and secure, because on the other side of this door is the most relaxing place you can think of. The place might be indoors or outdoors. It might be somewhere you’ve been or somewhere you’d like to go. It might be real or a fantasy. Whatever the details may be, this place is the most relaxing you can imagine. When you know exactly which place you’ve chosen, imagine that you open the door and step into this most relaxing place.
Take all the time you want to notice whatever there is to notice about it. If there are things that you can see, notice their size, their shape, and their color. If there are sounds that you can hear, notice what they sound like and whether they’re near to you or far away. Also notice that, as you listen to them, you begin to feel even calmer. Imagine that you can reach out your hand and touch something, simply to notice how it feels against your skin. This is your place of perfect relaxation, security, and creation. As you inhale, breathe in relaxation. As you exhale, release any remaining negative emotion.
When you’ve taken as much time as you need to enjoy this place, take a few more moments to imagine your life as you would most love it to be. Imagine that you have whatever you desire. This may be in terms of your health, wealth, relationship, career, location, and anything else that you’d like to have in your life that you don’t already have. Engage as many of your senses as you can while you’re imagining. Notice the sizes, shapes and colors of things around you. Notice who’s with you, if anyone. Notice what you hear as you go about your imagined day. Where are you? What’s the same and what’s different about your life? Take a moment to touch things around you and note how they feel.
If you want these things, and you don’t already have them in your life, it’s likely because your subconscious mind is keeping you from acquiring them. It’s not trying to keep you from being happy, it just wants to stick with what’s familiar to it, and it thinks change is threatening. Your subconscious mind stopped developing when you were still a child; consequently, it doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy.
While you’re imagining your life exactly the way you want it to be, your subconscious gets the chance to experience these things as real and safe. Allowing yourself these moments of fantasy when you’re this relaxed makes it far more likely that you’ll be able to experience these things in reality when the opportunity arises, because your subconscious mind will feel safe with the change. It will believe it’s already experienced the change and knows it’s safe.
When you’ve spent as much time imagining that you have what you want in as much detail as possible, imagine that you see a beautiful, healing light shining down from above, and go step into it. Imagine that this light fills you and surrounds you. Notice if it has a color or some other quality, like a sparkle. Imagine that you can feel the warmth of it. Be assured that healing calmness is taking place and that you are being protected. Next, imagine that somewhere near you, there’s a full-length mirror. Allow yourself to go and stand in front of it. Note that your reflection is happy, healthy, and enjoying life. You have a big smile on your face and a glow in your eyes. This full-length mirror also has a magical quality to it: You can step into it and become your reflection, because that’s your authentic self. Allow yourself to step in. Become one with your happy, healthy reflection. Notice how you feel, and how much you’re enjoying living the life you’ve always wanted.
When you feel you’ve spent enough time, you can say goodbye to this place, knowing you can return anytime you want to make even more positive changes. When you’re ready, step back out through the door through which you entered and close the door behind you. Count yourself up to five, slowly becoming more aware of your body in your chair and yourself in your surroundings. On the count of five, open your eyes, and say aloud, “Eyes open, wide awake.” Repeat if you feel it’s necessary.
Get in the habit of asking yourself what emotions you’re feeling. Give your emotions very specific names. Are you feeling angry? Afraid? Joyful? Sad? Excited? Disgusted? There are many benefits to understanding emotions. According to author Alex Korb, participants in one study were connected to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines and shown pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. The fMRI machines indicated that each participant’s amygdala responded as though he or she were having the emotions of the person in the picture. When the participant gave the emotion a name, however, it reduced the amygdala’s activity.
The amygdala plays an important role in our experience of fear and anxiety. The experiment revealed that, simply by giving a specific name to the emotion, we can reduce the negative impact it would otherwise have on us. The words “stress” and “anxiety” are rather broad, blanket terms. The more specific we are in naming our emotions, the healthier for us.
I hope you’ll use at least one of these techniques to help you have a calm mind. Unfortunately, they won’t change the events that occur around you to all positive ones, but they can certainly ease the emotional impact these events have upon you.
If you need any extra assistance in making your mind calm, contact me for some hypnotherapy and/or Emotional Freedom Technique sessions.
If you have issues that you want to release, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help you do away with them.
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