The Simplest Way to Create More Calm in Your Life

Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 5 Comments

Jacqueline Stone | Tiny Buddha

meditate man

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

This particular week, I flunked. I’d be lucky if you gave me a D grade in assessing my calmness.

Generally, nobody can question my commitment to leading a life of less stress. I try hard. I try very hard.

You might even be impressed with my healthy diet, my abundance of sleep, and my regular exercise. You couldn’t fault the careful thought and planning that go into my days and weeks. Hell, I can even claim meditation, mindfulness, and self-awareness as long-time, well-practiced skills.

But some weeks you take your eye off the ball, don’t you.

And I can’t blame any common stressors that predictably make life tougher: no illness or injury, no family or relationship conflict, no extra pressure at work or excessive financial strain.

That particular week I failed because I didn’t stop. I didn’t let go. Too much rushing, too much on my mind, too much scheduled.

And of course I was on edge, with that irksome and uneasy agitation that plagues you when stress gets the better of you.

Related Article: How Mantras Calm Your Mind

It feels unshakeable, lurks about robbing you of simple pleasures, sapping any joy from your day. Left unchecked it will escalate. We all know that stress may pass with little consequence, but let it go and go, and it mutates, into depression, anxiety, or destructive behaviors, ruining work, relationships or your health.

Despite working hard over the years to build my repertoire of tricks and techniques to restore calm, on this occasion it was more luck than effort that turned things around for me.

The surprising antidote arrived on the Saturday afternoon.

Unplanned, Unexpected Calm (and How It Happens)

“Tilt your head forward so that you’re looking down,” Claire instructed, and boy, did it feel weird. “Yes, it will feel strange, as though you’re swimming downward,” she went on.

Ugh. What was I doing here? And why?

Well, I had signed up my husband and I for a swimming instruction session—determined to choose a shared experience that he’d enjoy for his birthday rather than buying more stuff.

Related Article: Do These 4 Things Everyday to Become Calmer

But here I was near the end of a hectic week, with a very full head, stacks of unattended emails, and loads of washing to do. The swimming thing had seemed like a good idea at the time and I knew he’d love it, but maybe I could have skipped it, got some jobs done, and joined him afterward for dinner.

Then it happened.

Claire again: “Swim a short distance that you can manage without a breath, go as slow as you can, and try to minimize any splash. How does it feel, what do you notice?”

I noticed I was beginning to feel better!

She had my attention now, and with each instruction, she dragged me out of my head (with all of its worries and preoccupations) and into my body, full of new muscle, body-position and watery sensations.

I let go and resigned myself to the present moment. And why not? The emails and washing were out of reach and my work worries would still be there when I got back to my desk. Anyway, in order to follow Claire’s instructions, I had to tune in!

I had to listen and interpret her words with my body and my movements.

Related Article: 22 Power-Actions Effective People Use to Stay Calm in Times of Stress

Claire is a Total Immersion swimming coach, and this method of swimming is all about slowing down at first to improve the accuracy of your stroke: to get balance and movement right, in order that you maximize propulsion and minimize drag. It’s very mindful. It requires that you commit to the present moment and focus inward.

Calm was upon me, hooray.

Take a romantic view, and envisage the sensory experience of the cool and quiet of the water, the slow and rhythmic movements of the body. Or the simple science of it: the activity required me to engage my pre-frontal cortex, thus redressing the dominance of the stress-fuelled, and stress-fuelling, limbic system.

Your Way is the Best Way

The swim session reminded me of a lesson I’ve learned before, my pursuit of mindfulness and meditation. Many years ago after the traumatic loss of a loved one, I survived on yoga and walks on the beach.


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5 Reader Comments

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  1.' Ian McGreal says:

    Yeah, it’s from adrenal gland fatigue. It’s absolutely devastating to the body

  2.' Donna Janiski Bisesi says:

    Stress is the leading cause of ALL disease!!! The consequences are devastating to ones life!!!

  3.' Cynthia Latham says:

    I know for sure stress and emotions cause breast cancer !!! Only 15 % is hereditary … Him the other 85% is dress from emotions !

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