“Do not let the actions of others destroy your inner peace.” – Dalai Lama
THE TIME IS NOW
Given the givens of our world, this is a perfect time to focus on how to sustain your inner peace and still care deeply about what’s going on in the world. Neither ignoring all the trauma and drama in the world, nor stressing over it are constructive options. This article will share some of the many simple and cost-free ways to rebalance, lower stress and keep an open heart.
THE ONLY PREREQUISITE
You can be the hero/heroine of your stress story by applying any of these proven, cost-free and simple strategies. The only pre-requisite is to choose one you will actually do, and to do that one as consistently as possible.
There is a teaching in yoga that says, “When you can master your breath, no one can steal your peace.” This adage refers to the now proven evidence that how we breathe directly influences our physical, mental and emotional states. Simply stated, shallow breathing accompanies and amplifies stressful states of being, seriously compromising wellbeing.
Conversely, slow, deep, balanced breathing creates wellbeing in the body, calm in the emotions, and clarity in the mind. The good news is that controlling the breath is a built-in way to feel better, no matter what’s going on.
Here’s a simple yoga breathing technique proven to create calming and restorative benefits, which you can try. This relies on an exhale that is double the length of the previous inhale. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit and gently close your eyes. Silently count the length of your inhale as you take in a breath. As you exhale, make your full exhale double the count of your inhale. For example, if you inhale deeply for the count of four, exhale slowly for the count of eight, etc. Repeat this…at your pace, never gasping for breath…for least 5 rounds and for as much as 5 minutes. As you go along, you may even be able to expand the count of your inhales and still double the length of the exhales. When you are complete, gently open your eyes and savor the calm. Repeat as often as needed.
Forest bathing is part of a national public health program in Japan. Scientific studies have confirmed the physical and psychological benefits of walking mindfully among trees in a forest. This is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. It turns out that forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better…thanks to the phytochemicals from trees and plants…inhaling forest air for just a half hour contributes significantly to our wellbeing.
The how to, is to just be with trees and meander among them. You can even sit on the ground in a forest and enjoy the same benefits. You can be barefoot or wearing shoes. No hiking, no destination, no chatting…just relaxing and noticing what you see, hear, smell and sense. Enjoy this natural calm for body, mind and spirit.
IMAGINATION WORKS, TOO
If you cannot go outdoors, your imagination can stimulate inner peace. Simply take the time to be still for a few minutes, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and with vivid detail bring to mind a time in your life when you were truly happy. Allow the loving feelings from this memory to permeate every cell of your body. This will quickly move you away from stress and positively rebalance your biochemistry.
THINGS YOU ALREADY KNOW
Exercising for pure pleasure, practicing yoga, meditation, singing, dancing, listening to soothing music, walking your dog or walking by yourself. All lower stress and uplift your spirits. You also already know the key is to just do it. And do it often.
A VERY SIGNIFICANT BENEFIT
Taking charge of creating more inner peace in your life has the extra benefit of opening you to more of your true nature. Part of this is the capacity to care more deeply about others. The importance of this is reflected in another quote from the Dali Lama. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries; without them humanity cannot survive.”