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Finding calmness in challenging times

You can access calmness any time you choose.  I realize this is a pretty bold statement considering how challenging our lives, inner and outer, and our world are right now.  Yet it is true and not only can you do it, you can learn to sustain it.  You don’t need any classes (although an MBSR class can help deepen your skills) or any special equipment.  If you have a few moments, calmness is available.

How?  Simply follow these steps:

  1.  Stop what you are doing when you notice feeling unbalanced, anxious or tense.  Then, if you can, sit down.
  2. Focus your attention on the sensations in your body – feeling your body in the chair,  or your feet on the ground, for example. Closing your eyes may help you focus.  Notice pressure, temperature, tingling, numbness and any other qualities that are present in the body right now.
  3. Turn your attention to the sensations of breathing.  Notice how the in-breath feels, how the out-breath feels.  Let the breath be just as it is, refraining from controlling it as best you can.
  4. As you breathe, you may notice that some muscles are tightened or clenched.  Without forcing anything to happen, give permission for them to let go a bit and relax.  You may feel yourself sink a little more deeply into your seat.
  5. If you can, bring to mind a time when you felt cared for, or caring towards someone or something else.  You might focus your attention on the heart region as you do this.  Immerse yourself in the sense of pleasantness if it arises.
  6. When you are ready, take a couple more breaths, and slowly open your eyes.  Notice how you feel now.

Many of us will feel much calmer, after only a few minutes of doing this practice.  When we are calmer, we can think more clearly, be less reactive to the annoyances and fears of daily life, and be kinder and more present with the people in our lives.  And if you can practice these steps each day, you might notice a shift to greater ease and calmness, regardless of what is going on.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

So, give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Linda Oxford

Linda Oxford, MS, MA, LPC, RYT500

Linda has a private mental health counseling practice in Rochester Hills and Alden (seasonally), Michigan. She provides compassionate and confidential psychotherapy and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes, meditation and yoga training to people, groups and businesses wanting to learn to decrease anxiety and depression, cope with chronic physical or emotional pain, improve health and well-being, and gain greater satisfaction with life.

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