This is Part 1 of the series Navigating Troubled Times a step-by-step guide to strengthen yourself amidst the turbulence in our current times.
What does the word “serenity” mean to you?
Peace? Calm? Freedom from stress, or perhaps, just the freedom to do what you’d like without worry? Perhaps all of these things, or more?
Serenity can best be defined as a sense or a state of assured inner calm, no matter what the circumstances. Better stated, serenity is a sense of well-being and strength no matter what is going on around you. The calm “eye of the hurricane” so to speak.
This balanced state of calm even while the winds of chaos swirl around you is achievable: for everyone. It is not some special “gift” awarded to only a chosen few.
Achieving inner serenity is a skill: a technique that can be learned and perfected by anyone, at any time.
So, you may be asking:
- How, do I achieve this state of inner calm?
- Is it hard, will it take a lot of time which I don’t have, and is it expensive?
To answer these questions in reverse order:
No, no, and no to the second question. You will find achieving a sense of inner calm fairly easy, in just the first few seconds, and it is available to you any time, any place, no expensive equipment or gear.
Now to answer how you achieve inner calm, a sense of serenity:
You achieve inner calm through your breathing
Your nervous system is connected to your breath. The faster you inhale and exhale, the more your heart rate speeds up, and your nervous system and muscles prepare for increased physical activity, or stress. When you increase your breathing, you brain also signals your body for a potential “fight or flight” situation, giving rise to sensations of anxiety.
Focus on your breathing. And deliberately strive to slow down your breath. Strive to take deep inhales, holding it for a half second or more.
And then let out a long relaxing exhale. Vocalize the word “Ah” in the exhale so you can hear yourself letting go of all that tension and anxiety, assuring your brain that you are relaxed.
Do this breathing for a few seconds and then focus on how you feel. Focus on your muscles and other areas of your body and feel the tension easing up. For any areas that are still tight, give attention to them, imagining your breathing sending relaxing healing to those areas.
Accept and let go of what you can’t control
The popular “Serenity Prayer” asks the Divine for the understanding “to know the difference” between “the things I cannot change” and those “things I can” control.
Although this popular poem has been in our cultural lexicon for at least 85 years, the true import of these words may be missed by many of us.
In reality, there are things that are beyond our control. Like it or not, there are things that we can do absolutely nothing about.
So what do you do if you can’t do anything about certain things?
As hard as it is sometimes, accept them as they are and realize, no matter what, that you are strong enough and capable enough to handle everything that may come your way.
Here’s the deal: the truth is that most of these things, like politics for instance, or someone’s nasty attitude at the office, does not concern you and has nothing to do with you. Nor are they about you.
However, if these things do affect you, or come your way, trust that you will have the resources to handle it effectively.
So, relax! Breathe and Accept!