Continuing the conversation on how you can surf chaos in the world and your life with grace and equanimity. In this next article in this three-part series, we present techniques and tactics to calm your mind plus how doing will make you feel better.
The previous article in this series shares tips and techniques on how to gracefully accept that we live in uncertain times and how to nurture your body and cultivate routines: Seven Steps to Surf Chaos in Your Life and the World (Part 1).
The MMSNorCal Collective coaches have been actively practicing techniques and also sharing them with their clients — here we benefit from their knowledge and experience. I encourage you to share this series of articles with friends and family so they too can benefit from them.
Step 3. Calm the Mind, Tap into Clarity and Creativity
The air waves full of doom and gloom; social media exposing us to an endless stream of rants and raves, and fear is infectious. We all affected by the collective upsetedness.
“No news programming is allowed in my house!” says Coach Muriel Murphy.
Coach Michelle Hayden-Marsan also limits the amount of news she exposes herself to and says that “I enjoy the freedom to listen and watch programming which serves me, and eliminate that which is negative.
I endeavor not to control or get aggravated by opinions which I personally do not ascribe to, although that can be challenging these days.
It is important for me to hold onto the values that I believe in and also to make an effort to not hold it against others who do not share my values. This can be tricky.
If I find myself getting anxious over the strongly held opinions of others, then I unfollow so I don’t have to judge or get my shackles up. Letting go of the need to be right is liberating.”
Mindfulness Around Negative News and Negative People
“You can’t hide from negative news or negative people,” says Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier, but you can be mindful about how you let it penetrate you. When I am around someone who focuses on the negative, I try to bring it to their attention, for many people it’s just a bad habit and they don’t even recognize that they are doing it.”
“I love following the international and domestic news, and seek diverse sources of information to access different voices and opinions”, shares Coach Sarah E. Spencer. “That said, the last few years have been more challenging. I have been somewhat successful by continuing to identify common ground, and engaging with deep listening and asking questions. At times, I have to be ruthlessly intentional about checking the news only twice a day, and making sure I don’t doom scroll, especially in bed!”
Instead of getting distracted with the news, Coach Carla Morton focuses on her clients. “That gets me out of my own head and oddly enough, my clients don’t talk about the news either. They are focused on their jobs and being the best leaders they can be.”
Mantra – Acceptance of Changes
Here is the first mantra that Coach Muriel uses to create calm amidst the chaos. She repeats them each day and they help her center and ground her into accepting the present.
Reflection and Journaling Can Help Surf Chaos in the World
Coach Hayden-Marsan gives herself time for reflection and journaling (wonderful resource on building a journaling practice). “I figure out the best plan and schedule for things that make me feel joyful and whole. Then I give myself time to adjust to the newness of it all and I am compassionate when I may fall short every once in a while. I find it helpful to have a coach guide me through some of the thinking needed for the planning and also to help keep me accountable along the way.”
“Creating space for calm is huge for focus, creativity, productivity and purpose,” says Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig.
We live in a world where people are doing more and more, filling their schedules to resemble a rat race, with the belief system that this is how we achieve success or our goals. When in fact the opposite can be true. When we learn to calm our minds and do less, we become more aware. When we become aware, we notice the things that we would like to create more of in our lives and notice the things we would like to change. A racing mind lives in autopilot and reactionary mode. An aware and calm mind has the capacity to prioritize, discover what is meaningful and can enhance strengths and grow.
Three Tools to Support a Calm Mind
Coach Mueller Ihrig suggests the following tools that she has found personally extremely useful to support a calm mind:
- Daily morning guided meditation. Meditation is proven to reduce stress, release balancing hormones and enhance our overall well-being.
- The word Curious. When you notice your mind starting to race, become aware and envision yourself stepping out of the situation. Become Curious. Ask yourself, what is happening here? How do I feel? What does this situation teach me? What can I learn? How would I like to respond? Become Curious about life, and open up awe and inspiration.
- Reduce multitasking as much as you can. Pick what you will do and focus your time on it. Become fully present and engaged with what you are doing. You will accomplish your task more effectively, productively feel much more satisfied with your contribution and how you spent your time. Focused engagement leads to both clarity and creativity.
Step 4. Do Your Part; No Matter What Happens, Only You Get to Decide
Once we practice acceptance – the only certainty in life is change, we may not always like what life serves up – and ground the body and calm the mind, we can then decide what we can and cannot do, what we want to do, what is our responsibility and what is not for us to do.
Reset Your Priorities
Coach Sarah’s priorities have changed in two ways.
She says that firstly, “I want to spend time with our elders, whenever and however I can. This can include a card, letter, call or seeking their advice.”
Her second priority is to invest as much in her local neighborhood and community as possible.
“I dream about the ways in which I can personally expand, in spite of all of this”, says Coach Carla.
She adds, “I’m looking at getting involved in a more impactful way, with organizations that are doing-good in the world.”
As a result of feeling physically unsettled due to all the chaos in the world, she has committed to taking dance lessons again as she misses the challenge of choreography and learning new ways to move.
Coach Carla feels that we must uncover and discover creative ways (blog post on how to build a creative practice) to find joy all around us.
The pandemic has given many of us the time and space to reassess life and reevaluate our relationship with work.
“My priorities have become more clear and any decisions I was on the fence about before the pandemic became crystal clear,” says Coach Mueller Ihrig. “I wanted to be closer to my family, move on to the next professional chapter of my life, enjoy nature more, and be a mindful force for good in the world. I did just that, plus took time to slow down a bit. Slowing down has been the biggest gift of the pandemic.”
Become Intentional in Your Life
Coach Charles Vivier is “being more intentional in how I live and spend my life. Deepening relationships with friends and family. Focusing on the positive, being in the present and committed to the best plans for the future.”
“I want to spend time with the people I love,” says Coach Lindsey. “Luckily when the pandemic hit, I got stuck in St. Louis, where most of my family is. My husband was in France when the borders were about to be closed and got back just in time. We got to live day-to-day with my kids and grandkids and had the opportunity to strengthen my relationship with my sister. When we couldn’t fly home, we drove across the country, which was a great reminder of how beautiful America is.”
“The pandemic has really made me aware of our physical and mental vulnerability”, says Coach Marsan. “I feel the importance of living life to the fullest and doing what I love, now. I’m not “waiting” for the perfect time to have adventures and see the people I love. Instead, I make a list of what I want to do this year and next; who I want to reconnect with, and I create the plan to do so.”
Mantra to Release Energy
Coach Muriel shares a mantra she uses to create calm amidst the chaos in the world.
Here is how you can use it:
- Repeat it each day
- Write it on a sticky note
- Place it on your desk montior where you can glance at it several times during day
The purpose of this mantra is the same as the one presented earlier in this article: to help you center and ground yourself into accepting the present.
In the final article in this series (Surf Chaos in Your Life and the World Part 3), you will learn how to breathe and embrace each new wave of change, build trust that all will be well, and train to surf the chaos in the world!