Life is stressful. So many pressures on you. From work. Family. Friends. Perhaps you’re worried about things beyond your control. No matter what life serves you, it’s how you react that creates the rhythm of your existence.
After I returned from a business trip to Canada, my husband and I decided to celebrate with the ice wine I brought home and local fresh oysters. I was preparing the salad while he shucked the oysters out by the barbecue.
“Uh, oh. This isn’t good.” And next thing I know he’s standing at the kitchen door bleeding profusely.
I quickly assessed his injury, determined he’s severed an artery and applied pressure. Drove him to the emergency room and set up an appointment with a hand surgeon to repair his tendon.
When we returned home, my husband says, “I really appreciate how calm you always are during an emergency.”
I shrugged it off. As a health care provider, I’m well trained. He shook his head, “I was a cop for thirty years and I was trained to be calm while at work, but at home, watching your loved ones in pain, in danger, well, it’s hard to be calm.”
That got me thinking, how do I stay calm in the face of major stressors?
It seems innate. I remember being calm as a child when havoc would break out at home. It’s like I was in a bubble of peace.
Then I realized that being CALM was a conscious choice I make every time I face chaos.
So here it is: My formula for Being the CALM in Your Life.
CALM stands for:
C – Connect
A – Attitude
L – Love
M – Meditation
First, I connect with my breath.
Taking a deep conscious breath allows me to center myself, brings oxygen into every cell so I can think clearly and act decisively, connects me to my higher power, inner strength, divine wisdom, whatever you call it— I become my own best guru!
So when facing a stressful situation, stop and take a deep breath.
I like to hold my hands down in a V at my lap and breathe all the way to my fingertips, filling my lungs with oxygen. Then slowly, consciously exhale out all my fear, all that doesn’t serve me.
Sometimes it takes three of these deep conscious breaths to really let go of my fear and CONNECT to my strength.
Your attitude is everything. It directs how you will react to a situation. You can either see the stressful situation as an Opportunity or an Obstacle. The choice is yours.
Switching your attitude from negative to positive is as simple as choosing to see it as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change.
Love and fear are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of emotion. Just like darkness is the absence of light, fear is the absence of love.
Choosing to perceive every situation through the eyes of love will ultimately bring you joy.
Choosing to perceive life through the lens of fear will bring you more pain, more fear.
After taking a deep breath, seeing the opportunity in the stressful situation, choosing love over fear, I say to myself:
“May I be open to receive the gift of this encounter.”
And I always do. Receive the gift, that is!
Meditating daily even just for a few minutes helps seal CALM into yourself.
Start by finding a quiet place to sit. Get comfortable.
Bring your hands up in prayer position then let them drop fingertips down in a V in your lap. Notice how much more relaxed your shoulders are in this position.
Practice breathing deeply. Once to the center of your chest. Exhale out all the negative feelings.
Second breath is to your solar plexus where your ribs meet above your belly. Exhale out all that doesn’t serve your highest good. Third breath is all the way to the V of your fingertips on your lap.
Of course your lungs cannot fill up all the way to your pelvis, but focusing on breathing that deeply engages your stomach muscles so that you get the most air. Hold it for a second or so and then slowly exhale. This time breathe out Love!
Now that you’re filled with oxygen, you will notice a deep relaxation spread through your body.
See a stressful situation you are facing not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. Hold the image of the opportunity that just might come from the stress in your mind’s eye. You don’t need to imagine all the good that will come from this wrinkle in the road of life yet, just be open.
While you are breathing quietly, imagine something or someone you really love. Now, look at your stressor with those same eyes of love. Love colors everything brighter.
Repeat this mantra at least ten times.
May I be open to receive the gift of this encounter.
Practice this meditation when you arise and before you fall asleep. If the day has been extra stressful, review it through this meditation. Breathe consciously, shift your Attitude, choose Love, and look again at the stressor. You may then be able to receive the gift of the encounter.
A few minutes of meditation every day will allow your reaction to life stressors to be CALM.
Using Scent and Sound to to be Calm
Another way to train your body to calm down quickly is to meditate with scent and sound.
Using a soothing scent like lavender, chamomile, or vanilla can also help calm your nervous system.
Try essential oils, hydrolyzed sprays, even scented candles. Using the same soothing scent every time you meditate will train your body to associate the scent with calmness.
You can then carry the scent in the form of a spray or essential oil to use in a stressful situation and you will calm down immediately.
Playing soothing music while meditating can help lower your stress hormones.
As you practice meditating to your peaceful music, your body relaxes, your blood pressure and heart rate lowers, your breathing deepens, and you produce less stress hormones and more calming neurotransmitters.
Pick a tune that you can easily hum. That way in the face of a stressful event, you can begin humming the tune and your body will immediately go into a calm meditative state.
Now You can be the Calm in your Life!