In the center of every turbulent hurricane is the calm and peaceful “eye of the storm.”
There are times in life that feel tumultuous, volatile, and chaotic, as if things are out of your control. You worry about the future. You become nostalgic for the life you had before this “storm” started. You imagine what life will look like once it’s over.
The bottom line: the thoughts that you have about the past or the future prevent you from living in the moment. In other words, if you can shift from focusing on the before and after to truly being present, finding peace will be a natural, effortless process.
Easy to say and not so easy to do, right?!
Let’s get creative so we can work around the “monkey mind” that eagerly tries every trick in the book to push away our inner peace.
Until the COVID-19 crisis, daily meditation and self-Reiki were my routine for quieting my own monkey mind. This approach worked wonders for me for more than twenty years! But a few weeks into the pandemic, I realized that these tools alone were not always doing the job during these uniquely challenging times.
I experimented with different ways to find peace in the eye of the storm, and I identified four options that have helped me and might help you too.
Put the brakes on the spinning in your head. Or welcome it with open arms.
There is a tug of war inside your head. A million thoughts are coming up at the same time. Your head is spinning. There are times when it is best to say NO to the spinning, put on the brakes, and stop it. There are other times when the opposite is more effective: say YES and welcome the spinning. In this blog, “Give Your Monkey Mind a Banana,” I present the ancient story of Molla Nasreddin and explain the advantages of not always trying to quiet your mind.
The important thing is to recognize when the spinning is happening and address it by closing your eyes, connecting with your mind, and asking yourself, “Is it better for me in this moment to say ‘yes’ or ‘no?’
- To say “no,” start by visualizing the spinning. Then watch it slow down and eventually stop. Allow pure white light to fill up the space in your mind.
- To say “yes,” talk to the spinning in your mind as if it is a good friend. Welcome it. Give it compassion. Be with it.
With either choice you make, the results will be the same. The spinning will stop.
Nearly 2000 people have gone through our Reiki training. Many of them have developed a solid daily practice of self-Reiki. It’s supposed to be easy to find peace when you give Reiki to yourself. But the pandemic has presented us with a new level of challenge to stay in the moment.
Who wouldn’t worry about the future or become nostalgic with this new reality? My conversations with our students have led to the understanding that we need to do things against the norm.
Our monkey minds, which used to cooperate, are rebelling. The same practices that previously brought us peace in the eye of the storm are not always working. We need to get smarter. We need to move before we sit.
Allow motion to open up your body. Move intentionally.
That’s one of the biggest ways I have elevated my practice in the last few months. I move my body mindfully, and then I sit in Reiki and meditation. And, most of the time, peace emerges.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to move mindfully:
- Walk in nature or simply walk with intention from room to room within your house. Using “intention” does not mean moving as if you have places to go and things to do but rather paying attention to every detail of lifting each foot off the ground, moving it forward, and placing it back on the ground. Be fully present with every step you take. Say “lift, move, place” as you move each foot. Walk in this way for at least five minutes but for as long as 30 minutes if you wish.
- Practice qigong, a Chinese system of coordinated movement and breath. I love following along with one of the excellent qigong videos of Steven Washington.
- Practice mindful yoga. There are so many yoga videos on the Internet. Here is one yoga video that I like.
Take a picture of the storm. Get perspective.
My friend, Jess, is a mom and a photographer. Years ago, she got stressed out when each of her three kids (and her dog) had crises at the same time, and her husband was away on a business trip. After she took the immediate actions she needed to take, she couldn’t calm down for days.
One day she told me that life felt like a tornado. A few minutes into the conversation, we decided she should step into her photographer role. She got excited about approaching the “storm” in her life as she would her work. She would put on her imaginary camera and step back so she could see things from a distance and get a good shot.
One of the ways to get perspective is to shift from the participant role to the observer role. Step back and watch your life from a distance. The 5-minute “Movie of Your Life Guided Visualization” I created will help you with this exercise.
Be kind to yourself. No matter what.
When you try to find peace in the eye of the storm, you’ll have ups and downs. It is unrealistic to expect success at all times. Your “perfectionist armor” will come up automatically, and you’ll be disappointed every time you “fail” to find peace.
Suddenly, not only are you dealing with the storm but also with your disappointment in yourself. Don’t waste the needed energy on being hard on yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend. Make room for your humanity and be kind to yourself. Once you shift into the more tender place of kindness and compassion, peace will emerge.
To summarize, here are four ways to find peace in the eye of the storm:
- Put the brakes on the spinning in your head. Or welcome it with open arms.
- Move. Mindfully.
- Take a picture of the storm. Get perspective.
- Be kind to yourself. No matter what.
Which one of these four options are you open to try to work around your monkey mind?
Share in the comments area. I can’t wait to hear.