“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
When was the last time you gave yourself reprieve? Not just a break from daily doing, but space to quiet your mind and allow the weight of the day to release you from its grip. It can be a challenge to connect inward to our source of stillness and calm. But imagine feeling grounded and centered, no matter the storm. What a gift!
Embracing alignment is about harnessing our ability to focus. It means caring enough about how we feel to regularly press pause on our inner dialogue. To clear the path. To be in the moment with what is real — right now.
When we close the tabs on our computer and reboot the system, it will function with the speed and precision we’ve come to expect. The more we get into the habit of updating our computer, the better it will operate.
Our mind and body also need to rest and reset in order to function optimally.
According to the Scientific American article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” “that learning and memory depend on both sleep and waking rest may partially explain why some of the most exceptional artists and athletes among us fall into a daily routine of intense practice punctuated by breaks and followed by a lengthy period of recuperation.”
It’s okay to let go of the absurd idea that we should be running on all cylinders at all times while also wearing bright, happy smiles — it’s not healthy or realistic.
Our well-being impacts every area of our life. And being well is about more than our physical health. It’s about how we tend to our inner world. There is no true well-being without it.
Experiencing greater presence and alignment in our daily life may sound like an abstract pipe dream. And there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to clear the clutter of a busy mind. But here are 3 concrete methods you can try right now to be in the moment with what is real.
Method 1: Breathe
One of the easiest ways to redirect a busy mind is to use our breath as a calming tool. When we focus on the steady rhythm of our breath, we bridge the gap between our mind and our body. Deep, intentional breath work helps us feel connected and present — instead of feeling stranded on a runaway train of busy thoughts and worries.
According to neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay, “by bringing our attention back to the present moment, tuning in to our senses and using our breath to slow our heart rate, we can deactivate our stress response.”
Practice: Use the box breathing technique when you want to slow a busy mind, or as a check-in throughout the day. Inhale for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale for 4 seconds. Then pause for 4 seconds before repeating the cycle. At any point in the day, simply focus on your inhalations and exhalations by slowing them down and making them deeper and more intentional.
Method 2: Respond
When we approach life with a sense of curiosity, we are open to learning and experiencing whatever is before us. Being curious shapes us to respond to life rather than reacting to it. There is a notable difference.
When we are quick to react, it’s usually because we are caught up in a story about the past or a worry about the future. We are allowing our ego to drive our reactions to the people around us. Responding to life with curiosity allows us to listen, and to see with a sense of wonder. It aligns us with the present, with our sense of inner peace and happiness.
Practice: Use curiosity as a tool to be less reactive and more responsive to life. Listen more than you speak. Offer more questions than answers. Before you start a conversation with a friend or acquaintance, set an intention to learn something new about the other person. Offer them the gift of being seen, heard and understood. When you’re out in the world, see how it feels to adopt the mindset of a young child who is thirsty to learn and grow and wonder about the world.
Method 3: Appreciate
The easiest way to flip a story and bring light and love to your current state of being is to appreciate what you have and what is going well in your life.
This is what Robert A. Emmons, PhD, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, has to say: “Gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness.”
Practice: Nurture a habit around gratitude by creating a list of what you are thankful for. Add to that list regularly. As soon as you wake up, or before you drift off to sleep, bring to mind 3 things that make you grateful. Use gratitude as comfort instead of reaching for the distraction of your phone. You can also use gratitude at any point in the day to shed light on why being alive is the ultimate gift.
Our experience of living is temporary and fleeting. It isn’t something we ought to avoid or distract ourselves from. The ups and downs and in-between stretches of life are much better lived when we embrace alignment and relish the moment with what is real — every sweet and messy bit of it.
Article originally published on emilymadill.com