Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finding the Calm in the Midst of Chaos

Our lives have become very demanding these days especially with the economy forcing so many to work extra hours or extra jobs just to meet the monthly expenses. Many are stressed out from the possibility of losing their jobs, the worry from not-knowing. And so many have already lost everything and are just struggling to survive from one day to the next. In times like these, we need to find something, anything, to relieve the pressure, if only for a while. In this Ego-driven chaos there is really no respite, no place to go, so the stress takes it's toll. We then must find a place to escape our Ego. There is such a place of peace and calm where these everyday stresses can not follow and it is nearby to all. This place is our Source, our True Nature, our calm Center, where the Ego can not follow. This is where we all must eventually go if we are to ever find our Path with Heart, so why wait. There are simple methods all of us can use to find this wonderful place and many have been around since ancient times. The principles are ageless but in some cases, additional tools are more easily accessible today. Let us take a look at three techniques and find some genuine calmness in this stormy sea.

"If we train our mind to become peaceful we shall be happy all the time, even in the most adverse conditions."
~ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Mindfulness Meditation (Focused Meditation)

- Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.

- Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.

- Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils* and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.

- Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, do not ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm, and use your breathing as an anchor.

- If you find your inner voice beginning to run it's usual commentary, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens. Just try to gently redirect your attention away from it, and back to your breath.

- As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.

* A technigue used in Zen meditation is to visualize the air entering in a stream at the very tip of the nose. This will help you to focus better.

Note: You can also focus on something visual, like a statue, or something auditory, like a metronome, a recording of ocean waves or of a gentle stream flowing.

Mantra Meditation

Set aside a few minutes and get into a comfortable position.

At first, it's best to have a quiet room, free of distractions. With repeated practice, you may find yourself able to practice mantra meditation anywhere and under more chaotic circumstances.

Choose a mantra for meditation

A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself. It can be a non-sensical sound like 'Om,' or it can be a word or phrase like, 'Calm' or 'I Am'. The words or sounds you choose are not important as long as they are simple and comfortable for you to repeat.

Close your eyes and repeat your mantra to yourself

As you do so, try to focus only on the sound and feel (vibration) of your mantra and nothing else. If you find other thoughts creeping into your head, thank yourself for noticing, and gently redirect your attention to your mantra.

Continue for several minutes

That is it. Just continue to repeat your mantra and focus on the sound and the way it feels to make the sound. Redirect your attention away from distractions, and back to your mantra. You can start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and work up to 20 or 30; with mantra meditation, any practice time is better than none.


- Try to practice mantra meditation anywhere from several times per week to twice a day.

- You can repeat the sound silently in your head if you are more comfortable with that.

- You can also do mantra meditation while walking to combine exercise with meditation. Just use your mantra rhythmically as you step.

Bath Meditation

Make Time

Block off at least 15 minutes where you will not be interrupted. That means creating a few extra minutes in your schedule, putting the phone straight to voicemail, telling others in your household not to disturb you unless it is an emergency.

Use Aromatherapy Bath Products

As you run the bath, you may want to incorporate some of the benefits of aromatherapy by using bubble-bath or bath oils scented with lavender (shown to be relaxing), peppermint (if you want to feel more alert), or sage (for cleansing abilities).

Get In and Relax

Let your breathing become slower and deeper, allowing your belly to rise and fall with each breath (instead of your shoulders or chest). This type of breathing is more natural, and can help turn off your stress response if it was still triggered from earlier in the day.

Focus on Sensations

Now just focus on the sensations you feel in your body - the warmth of the water on your skin, the pressure of the tub against your back - and let go of all thoughts. Try to keep your mind quiet and your attention focused on only the present moment.

Stay In The Present

If you find thoughts of the past, the future, or any form of internal dialogue happening, gently redirect your attention to the present moment. Continue for several minutes, and you should feel soothed and relaxed quickly.


- You may also want to try adding something auditory, such as a recording of ocean waves or of a gentle stream flowing. Use something relaxing and without lyrics.

These basic meditation techniques are easy to do but stopping your internal dialogue for very long will take practice. Just be consistent and patient in your practice and you will one day find yourself naturally relaxing into this peaceful, calm, and refreshing place amidst the chaos of everyday life. In time, you will be amazed at how much easier it is to deal with life's problems and will find yourself automatically going there where your Awareness and Clarity guide you effortlessly past the obstacles you encounter. Peace!

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  1. Hi,

    It is very kind of you to share your knowledge on meditation...

    This is certainly an awesome post on how to meditate Thanks a lot for sharing the information... Keep up the good work :)

  2. You are most welcome Bob and thank you for your kind words. Please come by again sometime and share some of your Wisdom. Be well my friend!