There are many, many paths and tracks we can take in life. The choices are endless and available to us at every turn. There is a certain type of track we can choose that feels unlike any of the others. This track I’m referring to is the one that when you’re on it, it feels right in your bones. It’s the track and sensation I’ve come to know as Ima. Ima is a Japanese word meaning now, or the present time. It was taught to me by my dear friend Yasu-san at a time in my life when journeying inward to stand in my truth felt more important and right than ever before.

The idea of Ima led me to the deep realization that whenever I feel any kind of dis-ease or suffering, I need only to take the track inward. Ima has become my reminder that this moment right now is the only one there is, so if the track I’m on doesn’t feel right, all I ever need to do is journey inward to my source of comfort and love.

Often what causes many of us to feel unhinged or unsettled, is when we take directive from everyone, but ourselves. When we repeatedly seek comfort and love outside of ourselves, we can feel a sense of emptiness and a void inside because we aren’t igniting the ember that lives within us. I imagine this track inward, as going to a space that embodies the highest power and truth of life – to me that’s a place of pure love.

Ima has become an easy word I can bring-to-mind, to snap me into the now and ask myself if I’m connected to the source of love that lives within me. Ima is how I remember to venture inward to view life, uncertainty, and the world around me through the lens of love.

Fast forward six years from my time and learning with Yasu-san, and here, like you, I stand in a time stacked with turbulence and uncertainty. This past year has been an unnerving time to be on a human journey. I have learned that in these noisy, polarizing times, it’s essential to my well-being to regularly tune inward and steady my nerves.

Throughout this past year, I have felt more unsettled than any other time-period of my life. Well, all except for my teenage years. I have also felt a deeper connection to a sense of love, hope and comfort than ever before.

This past year has helped to solidify my belief that the journey home to myself, is the one that leads to the greatest sense of comfort and love. When we are tethered to our truth and source of love, it’s easier to steady ourselves in the storm.

When we feel like we are on our right track, we are more likely to spread love and hope, over unsettled energy, and fear. Right now, spreading a sense of hope and love, feels like the best gift each of us can give each other.

This has been a year where Ima has been at the forefront of my weekly, daily, and moment-to-moment practices in my life.

Here are 3 simple ways I use the reminder of Ima to get present, steady my nerves and tune inward:

1. Deep Intentional Breathing

I access this practice often throughout the day. Deep intentional breathing helps to calm my nerves, slow down racing thoughts, and connect inward to the wise guide and source of love within. Take a deep, slow inhale and hold for the count of 3. Exhale slowly for the count of 3. Hold for the count of 3. Repeat as many times as needed to steady yourself and find your track inward.

2. Hydrate

I keep a glass or bottle of water close by, wherever I go. That way, it’s easy to keep sipping all day and stay hydrated, instead of feeling foggy in my mind. When I feel upset, stressed, or unsettled, reaching for some big gulps of fresh water always helps me re-focus and quiet my mind. The trick is to make sure you have water you can take with you, and a glass of water close by your desk, or wherever you spend the most time.

3. Gratitude

Gratitude is one of my core values that I draw on a lot. This year has doled out its fair share of challenges and losses. Many people have lost the people they love the most. Navigating daily life amidst grief, worry, fear, or uncertainty is grueling. Yet, each day we are alive, is a gift. Getting to a place of gratitude can sometimes mean we have to get right down to the basics. The conversation to yourself might be something like, it’s a gift to breathe in this breath; I am blessed to have sight to see what’s before me; I am grateful to hear laughter, or the rustling of leaves in the wind. Start basic and grow your gratitude from there. Gratitude doesn’t wash away the low points of life, but it helps us cherish the people and parts of our lives we value the most. Gratitude directs us to the source of love within us.

What about you? What word, feeling, or practice helps you steady yourself to get on your right and true track?

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  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse;; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: