Most people are paying off some sort of loan or loans or working just to pay their bills. Many do not have extra cash to do something as luxurious as to be calm, or so they think.
Here’s the thing, though.
You don’t need money to be calm.
You really don’t.
What you need is brain space.
So, what is brain space?
Brain space is space in your brain that allows you to feel a sense of calm.
We spend our lives walking around with all these thoughts in our heads:
gotta pay off this bill have to make dinner must finish this project need new tires for the car must buy dog food
…and on and on these thoughts keep going rattling around inside our brains.
You can’t be calm unless your mind is calm.
You could go to the most beautiful beach in the world, sit in the sand, and stare at the ocean, but if you haven’t learned how to calm your mind, you might as well be sitting in your living room staring at the TV because you are going to still feel all the stress you brought with you to the beach.
You can run 10 miles a day, and while you are running, maybe your brain settles down as you fight to breathe and keep your heart going, which, of course, takes precedence over any stressful thoughts. Once you stop running, though, that stress seeps right back.
Are you super forgetful?
Chances are your brain is too cluttered, leaving little room for you to remember.
Think of your brain as if it were a favorite room in your house. When you aren’t calm, there are clothes, and newspapers, and old bags of empty (except for a few shriveled up french fries) fast food wrappers.
How can you find anything in such a mess?
You know you left your car keys somewhere in that room, but darned if you can find them with all those piles of junk. Maybe the keys are under the empty Krispy Kreme box that rattles with pieces of dried sugar? Maybe they are beneath the wet smelly towel that has been there since your lake trip three months ago?
There’s so much garbage lying around that you just can’t find what you need.
You have to clear out your thoughts just as you have to clean-up that favorite room of yours.
It’s simple, really.
All you have to do is take 20 minutes, sit down, or lie down, and just be.
Just sit and be still for 20 minutes.
Don’t solve any big problems or think about your favorite song lyrics. Just sit still and breathe.
That’s all you’ve got to do.
Sit, breathe, and do nothing. Think of nothing.
As you sit there, breathing and doing nothing, make sure you acknowledge right now, right in these 20 minutes, you need nothing.
You don’t need anything for the next 20 minutes.
Keep breathing and acknowledge that you have nothing. Go ahead, say it to yourself. I have nothing.
You know what, when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose!
Now let’s take this one step farther. As you sit and breathe, say to yourself, I am nothing.
Now you might be thinking, Hold on there Laurie, I am a big muckety-muck in my community. I have all these people that rely on me.
Hmmmmm…could it be that having all those responsibilities are cluttering your mind?
So, let it go for 20 minutes.
For 20 minutes, all that doesn’t matter.
Just let it go and be with nothingness.
Now, you might be thinking, That’s Impossible! I don’t have the time for anything as ridiculous as all this. Or, you might be thinking, I’m far too busy, or I’m far too important to do that.
Sitting still for 20 minutes will not bring ruin to your life.
What it will do is make room in your brain.
As you sit still and breathe, your brain begins to pick up the trash that’s lying around.
It tidies up.
It quiets down all those nagging noises that prevent you from finding calm.
As your mind begins to work through all those thoughts and memories that are chaotically lying about, you begin to feel more like yourself.
You become that person you were before you knew there was such a thing as money. You embrace that person you were before you knew there was such a thing as pain or anxiety or loss. You realize that person you are seeing within yourself has been with you all along, but the clutter of your mind has kept her hidden.
When you sit for 20 minutes a day and breathe, you begin to see who you were born to be.
You begin to experience calm.
Who wants to be calm?
Well, I’ll tell you who. You want to be calm because when you are calm you are able to do so much more.
With a calm mind, you begin to see how you can easily finish those projects you started. With a calm mind, you begin to see how you can make your finances work for you and not against you.
With a calm mind, you begin to see how you have control over who or what influences you.
With a calm mind, you have the ability to create a better life for the time that you have here on this earth.
Disconnect your phone and connect with the world around you.
We live in a society where we think the world should have access to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Why do we all think we are First Responders who are ALWAYS on call?
Why do we think that we must answer every call because someone somewhere will live or die based on how quickly we respond to our phone?
I’ll admit it; I am a phone offender. Every time I call my daughters, I think they should answer immediately. If they don’t answer immediately, it clearly means they have been kidnapped and need rescuing. In reality, my child is probably doing her nails.
Just ask them.
I can’t count how many times a conversation has gone like this:
“Hello,” my child.
“Why didn’t you answer my call?” me.
“Mom, I was in the bathroom, and hey, wait a minute, why did you call five times?”
“You always answer your phone! I thought something was wrong!”
“Mom, nothing was wrong. I was just using the BATHROOM!”
“Oh, thank God!”
“Mom, WHAT do you want?”
“I don’t remember, but I am so relieved you are OK.”
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we assume that an unanswered call or text means something other than that person is busy and can’t answer the phone?
Our cell phones are controlling us, and we need to take back control.
Here are three easy steps to break out of the cell we’ve created by being overly dependent on our phones.
Step 1: Don’t use your cell phone in your car. Ever.
Now you might be thinking, what if I have an emergency?
If you have an emergency, step out of your car, and get to a safe place to call the police.
What if a crazy beast is following me?
How often does that happen? I know it happens in movies, but that’s not real.
Now, cars have emergency buttons in case you get into trouble. If I found myself in a life-threatening situation, I’d push that button before I’d pick up the phone and dial a friend.
If you genuinely need the help of First Responders, you won’t be making any calls. I was in a car wreck a few years back, and people got out of their cars to call for help. There was no way I could make a call.
Are you afraid you will miss that urgent call or text?
You need to ask yourself, is it that important?
The world will go on revolving if you don’t answer that text until you have stopped and gotten out of your car.
I remember the phone booth days when I would have to park the car, get out of the car, walk to the phone booth, wait my turn, put in a dime and make my call. I always kept many dimes in the car ashtray. The collection of dimes became a collection of quarters when calls went up in price.
The world didn’t end because I wasn’t able to connect my cell phone to my car and answer the phone while driving.
If someone calls or texts you while you are driving, don’t answer.
Let them wait a few minutes or longer to get a hold of you.
Answering your phone right away doesn’t make you any more important than you already are.
The truth is people will think you are more important if they have to wait for your response.
Step 2: If you are doing something, like working out, or taking a class, or eating a meal — basically living life — don’t answer your phone.
You can answer the person when you have the time to answer.
Must you constantly be at the mercy of other people’s schedules?
It’s OK to set boundaries.
It’s OK to chew your food and swallow even when someone is calling or texting you.
It’s OK not to answer every call.
But, what if it is my child, and she is in danger? (OK, I admit it. I have to work on this one!)
You need to ask yourself this: Are you in the Special Forces? Are you a Ranger, Seal, or Green Baret?
If your child is in danger, shouldn’t she call 911?
Wouldn’t it be better if the Police SWAT team handled the situation, or are you confident that the whistle and pepper spray on your keychain combined with your Momma-bear instincts will save your child?
Not only do we burden ourselves with thoughts of cries of help through our phone, but we also place the weight of final goodbyes on them.
There is that thought that we have to be able to tell our husband, friend, child, parent, that person we love that we love them before their plane goes down, so we always have to answer the phone.
Even if they aren’t flying, we still have to answer the phone because maybe, maybe, their plans changed, and they are traveling and suddenly have found themselves in danger.
Instead of living in that agony every time the phone rings, why not just make sure everytime you leave someone you love, you let them know you love them?
Why wait until the hostage situation or the doomed plane flight to cry over a crackled phone connection that you love that person?
Don’t leave things unsaid, especially if it is an I Love You because the truth is, very few people get one phone call before they leave this earth.
Don’t live your life waiting for that final call or text to say what you should have said.
Who needs that type of agony?
Regularly connect with those around you. Don’t lock up your relationships in a password encoded cell phone.
If you haven’t noticed, life goes by fast.
Wasn’t I just 24 year’s old yesterday?
There are so many stories of people on their phone and completely missing a home run hit at a baseball game, or a dolphin jumping out of the water.
I remember one time I was in Austin, Texas on Sixth Street listening to this fantastic band. At the table in front of me sat a woman completely entranced with her phone. The lead guitar player jumped down off the stage, and played a guitar solo while on his knees surely rousing the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. The guitarist was so close to this woman.
She never looked up.
She never noticed the firey display of the impassioned musician inches from her while she stared at her phone.
If I had to live that moment over, I would have walked up to the woman, snatched her phone, ran to the front door, and thrown her phone into the street.
Surely, that would have saved her from her imprisonment.
Step 3: Take a break from your cell phone and turn it off.
Put it down, and walk away.
When I was a kid, back in the old days, we had a wall phone in the kitchen. It had a long cord on it, so I could sit all the way in the dining room and talk on the phone “in private.”
The world didn’t end because I had to share one phone with six other family members. The whole family knew who I was talking to, and it wasn’t a problem. We thought we were pretty fancy because we had a telephone with an extra long cord.
There were many times when the phone rang while we were at the dinner table, and my mother would say, “We will not answer that phone. We are eating dinner.”
The call would go unanswered, and everybody was fine.
None of us would jump up and race to the phone to answer it.
That would be crazy because we were eating dinner.
It seems now that people think a cell phone is a birthright.
When my kids were teenagers, they would often get their phones taken away from them if they did something wrong.
I would hear comments from my community like, “Oh, I would never take my child’s cell phone away.”
It’s a phone, not a pacemaker for their heart!
It’s OK not to be in touch with every person you have ever had contact with every single minute of the day.
Take a break.
It’s far better to talk to people face-to-face than via text.
I can’t list the number of times conversations have gone wrong through text without even adding in the complications of autocorrect.
One time, I texted my daughter “K” instead of “OK,” and she wanted to know why I was so mad at her when I was just trying to be cool.
So “OK” is ok, but “K” means I am pissed at you and being passive aggressive?
Take control of your life and disconnect your phone.
Turn off the power on your phone, and leave it in the kitchen. Try it just for the night.
Then, be bold and advance your time to an entire weekend with the phone off.
Take a break for a week. Leave a message on your phone that says, “If this is an emergency, please call [Fill in the name of your spouse or friend]. If you leave a message here, I will return your call next week. You can also email me at [Fill in your email address]”
Give yourself time to breathe.
To follow my blog, please click the subscribe button on this page. We’ll be working together on ways to journey towards the positive.
Click the Yoga tab to find simple yoga poses that we can all do together to help move in the direction to calm down and let go.
Next week we’ll talk about water! I hope you will find your way back to The Happy Bishop to read the post.
Now available, How to Survive the ICU Experience, an eBook to help you as you sit by the bedside of a loved one. Buy your copy here!
Last year, while on Spring Break and touring colleges with my daughter, a Junior in High School, I upheld a promise I made ten years ago to a starry-eyed 7-year old. The promise I fulfilled was largely due to calming my mind down through yoga and meditation.
Yoga and meditation helped me uphold a promise I made to my young daughter nearly ten years ago.
Although a calm mind helped me uphold a promise I made years ago, it had nothing to do with yoga or meditation type endeavors like being flexible.
The promise was to take a tiny 7-year old to a magical place she found in an advertisement on a sour cream lid. This advertisement graced the plastic lid of a container of sour cream as it sat on our dinner table.
You’re thinking, hmmm, a 7-year-old with an advertisement in her hand – it must have been an advertisement for Disney World, right?
The advertisement wasn’t about Disney.
So, what could be advertised on a sour cream lid that would appeal to a 7-year-old girl who still believes in magic and all things beautiful?
It was an advertisement for a waterfall in Alabama.
My daughter pointed to the lid all those years ago, and she emphatically stated, “We HAVE to go there.”
As our family sat at the dinner table eating potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream, we all looked at our starry-eyed 7-year-old, and then to the lid and replied, “OK,” as we continued eating.
She was sincere about her desire to see the waterfall on the sour cream lid advertisement. That evening, she asked me for a stamp and for some help addressing the envelope of a letter she wrote inquiring about the waterfall on the lid.
A tourism brochure on the town where the waterfall resided appeared in our mailbox a few weeks later.
Our family read the brochure one after another in amazement agreeing that it was a beautiful place.
“We have to go there,” my tiny daughter dreamily again asserted.
“OK,” my husband and I replied.
The brochure was promptly placed on the outside of our refrigerator held in place by tiny magnets.
The years went by, and there was always something more important to do during my daughter’s vacations from school.
Without the ability to calm our minds down from daily life, we were always pulled this way or that. A family member was sick, or dying, or graduating, or getting married, or moving. There was always something that moved us farther away from that promise of going to see my sparkly-eyed daughter’s waterfall.
Not only were there always events getting in the way, there were also self-imposed roadblocks. Isn’t it too long of a drive? Where would we stay? Isn’t that going to be too expensive?
It was easy to say, “Sure, we’ll go.” It was less easy making that actually happen.
We couldn’t settle down and think through the wild card that had been thrown in front of us by a 7-year-old.
Nobody we knew had ever been there.
Besides, who travels over 8 hours to see something their kid found on a sour cream lid?
Really, who does that?
It was far too easy to say OK to our daughter, and then go on to accept other people’s plans for our time or be stopped by our homemade roadblocks.
Years Flow By
The years passed, and the brochure was moved from the front of the fridge to the side of the fridge. Then, it found a home in the kitchen junk drawer.
It’s amazing how quickly ten years can pass by while the promise of seeing a waterfall from a sour cream lid advertisement goes unfulfilled.
Without a calm mind, we would have continued making excuses for why we couldn’t fulfill a promise that for years had seemed too complicated.
That’s one of the great things calming down can do for you.
You see, the whole calming down thing through yoga and meditation is not about losing weight or being flexible. It’s about being able to make choices that create a wonderful life for you and those you love.
For this vacation, promised long ago to a small child, we needed a calm mind.
Want to know how the vacation went?
We drove to Alabama from Tallahassee, Florida after going on a college tour for my daughter.
The drive to Ft. Payne was beautiful, long but beautiful taking us through small towns that looked like they were pulled out of a Hallmark channel movie about love and community. We passed rolling lush green hills that brought us to breath-taking mountain roads in Alabama.
During our drive, there were long stretches of time when our car was the only car on the two-lane country road. Our car was the only car on much of the four-lane highway as well.
We didn’t know what to expect from Ft. Payne, Alabama.
The only thing I could say with certainty was that there would be a hotel off the highway because I pre-booked a room at a Hampton Inn.
The town of Ft. Payne was a lot bigger than I had expected. There was a Cracker Barrel and a Hardees. A Lowes and a Subway also graced the streets along with many shops.
Here’s a fun fact we discovered: Ft. Payne used to be the sock capital of the world.
We checked into the hotel and weren’t expecting it to be so clean. It was also newly renovated. We figured it would be one of those hotels stuck in time and long forgotten like our ten-year old promise, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was one of the nicest hotels of our Spring Break trip.
We slept well, as people often do in a nice, clean hotel high in the mountains. We expected breakfast to be so-so, but there again, it was one of the best breakfasts of our trip. The hotel had spinach and cheese omelets that were very tasty. A little old lady who looked like Aunt Bea from The Andy Griffith Show busily restocked the buffet as we ate in the clean quiet breakfast area.
Little River Canyon
It was a 15-minute drive to Little River Canyon through rolling hills dotted with beautiful country homes.
The visitor center was large, and the friendly park ranger gave us a tremendous amount of information on where to go, circling the highlights with a pink pen on our park map. She handed my daughter a National Park Ranger badge and a pin before she sent us on our way.
The group of visitors at the park was eclectic – some young, some old, some people riding motorcycles, some people in RVs, some people from other countries, and us.
“How did you know this place would be so wonderful just from looking at a sour cream lid?” I asked my daughter who just shrugged her shoulders.
We hiked to the main waterfall.
We hiked above the waterfall.
We hiked below the main waterfall and stopped to sit on large rocks beside the waterfalls while we ate sandwiches that we brought with us.
We walked in the river.
My daughter submerged her head in the cold clear water.
“I’ve just got to do this,” she said before dunking her upper torso into the freezing river water while standing knee deep as if baptising herself in the water.
“OK,” was my reply.
There is a 12 or so mile stretch of road along the canyon with gorgeous views.
We slowly drove on the winding roads, stopping to walk around and take pictures of the scenic overlooks.
The Waterfall Effect
It felt very calming to sit on the large rocks beside the waterfall. You would think it would make us nervous or afraid, but it didn’t.
As the raging river plummeted over the falls, crashing into the large rocks forty feet below, we felt a sense of peace and a sense of happy.
We were hours and hours from home, in the mountains of Alabama, in a town we knew very little about. While viewing these large and powerful waterfalls, oddly enough, we felt grounded and safe from life’s stressors.
We didn’t stop there and traveled to 3 other waterfalls on our way home.
Calming your mind down isn’t about what it does physically to your body. It’s about giving you the focus to make good life decisions for that body.
For us, a calm mind allowed us to honor a promise made long ago to a tiny 7-year-old with an amazing advertisement on a sour cream lid.
Spring is in the air, and so is a lot of collective stress.
It’s been a brutal start to spring.
We’re all feeling it.
Nearly everyone’s March Madness NCAA Basketball brackets burst with unimaginable game outcomes (I still love you, Tar Heels. Yeah, I’m talking to you,Berry andPinson!).
Our kids have taken to marching on the capitol and giving moving speeches along the way because they are fed up with being shot at during school. (These are OUR BABIES marching because of violence! OURS!)
I don’t even want to talk about the news media’s obsession over a woman named Stormy who had an affair with our current president before he was president. (Why is this mass media newsworthy? We all get it. A lawyer gave her hush money. Is that really 60 Minutes worthy? Our babies marching – OK, I can see that. But, an hour of Stormy? Oh for heaven’s sake!)
Collective stress is in the air, arriving before the impending rain of pollen.
That pollen will cover and clog everything it touches until a good storm washes it away. We truly don’t want to stop the deluge of pollen because it promotes growth.
Just as the rain will wash away that irritating green river of pollen, there are actions we can take to remove collective and personal stress.
Here are 7 actions to rinse off stress.
Have you noticed while watching the news, you may be holding your breath or shallow breathing with your shoulders up around your ears?
Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you are happy and exhilarated, like when UNC won last year’s NCAA Tournament? Many of us were taking deep, long breaths after that win.
We can help reset our stressed-out nervous system by practicing breathing exercises.
Breathe in through your lower abdomen, poking your belly out. Continue the breath by expanding your ribcage. With the same breath, breathe into your collarbone area. Now, exhale pulling your stomach in towards your spine.
When you practice breathing full breaths, you may become aware of how often you hold your breath or breathe shallow breaths.
Make sure you are taking several deep breaths (Yogic breaths) every day.
Stress wears us all down. When you sleep, your body’s nervous system can repair.
Take a nap for ten minutes, thirty minutes if you can, every day to help you reset and repair. You’ll be amazed at what a brief break can do to increase your daily productivity.
Speaking of daily rest, not only does your body need to repair so does your mind. Ten to twenty minutes of daily meditation helps to clear away the clutter collective stress heaps on you.
Meditation is the act of doing nothing.
You can do nothing for ten minutes, right?
Practicing yoga on a regular basis helps to relax your mind and muscles.
Yoga also helps increase your focus.
You don’t have to go to a studio to practice yoga, just do some poses in your office or your living room.
Keep it simple.
I’ll post a yoga pose for you here to get you started.
Get up and get moving for at least 30 minutes every day.
That stress is wearing you down.
Walk it out!
Do something to get your heart pumping and your body sweating to rinse away that stress.
Remember that time you helped out in the soup kitchen?
Or the time you made cookies at The Ronald McDonald House?
Or when you picked up the drink tab of your friend wearing a Duke basketball sweatshirt? (You helped out a Duke fan even though you know Bagley is a big diva who holds onto the rim too much when he dunks.)
Remember how great it made you feel?
Conversely, stress makes you feel awful, so do something that makes you feel good – help someone!
Find the Time to Do Something You Love to Do
Since we are talking about doing something that makes you feel good, do something you love to do.
Stress takes a toll on us all. It can make us forget who we are.
It can make us forget what we love.
If you love shooting baskets, go outside and shoot hoops for a few minutes.
If you love to read, go read.
Whatever it is you love to do, go do it!
Collectively, we will all recover.
To follow my blog, please click the subscribe button on this page. We’ll be working together on ways to journey towards the positive.
Click the Yoga tab to find simple yoga poses that we can all do together to help move in the direction to calm down and let go.
Next week we’ll take a look at Reasons Why We All Need to Calm Down! I hope you will find your way back to The Happy Bishop to read the post.
Now available, How to Survive the ICU Experience, an eBook to help you as you sit by the bedside of a loved one. Buy your copyhere!
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