Does it seem like your life is always fast-paced and hectic? Do you find yourself waiting for life to slow down before you can relax a bit? That’s definitely been a pattern for me over the years. And then at some point it occurred to me that it doesn’t really ever seem to slow down. So instead of waiting for life to slow down (outer peace), I realized it’s a better plan to learn how to slow down internally (inner peace). That way you know what to do whether your life happens to be busy or not. After doing this inner work, then it’s fine to look at any outer changes you can make in your life (outer work). We don’t rely on those outer changes, though – that’s just gravy.
So what’s the key to being the eye of the hurricane, where it’s calm? Why, it’s stopping periodically and releasing, of course! You know me well enough by now… It’s letting everything you’re carrying in that moment go. This takes no thought, no words, and it only takes a few seconds. It’s pretty amazing, really. You constantly whack stress throughout the day so that it can’t build. The other option is to let it build and then feel totally stressed out by the end of the day. And then get home and yell at a family member who really didn’t do anything wrong. Not fun.
At some point I’ll post a totally unprofessional video about these little releases that I do throughout the day as needed. My clients know how quick and easy this is, because I can show them in person. I think some folks might be making it out to be more difficult than it is, though. It’s not. You just notice some stress building up, so you stop, close your eyes (unless you’re driving…), breath in, and just relax your whole body as you exhale. You’re intention is simply to let go of everything you’re carrying in your body in that moment. Letting go means that it can totally be there, though – but it can leave when it wants to. You’re not holding it.
This stuff really does work. Now stress flows through you without getting stuck and building. So stress really isn’t a big deal anymore – it’s just a normal part of life. That sounds pretty cool… It also gets you out of your head and into reality – now. This is called being present. When we’re living this way, we’re in a much better position to take inventory of the details of our lives and make any changes that will help slow things down. For instance, my counseling practice started to pick up several months ago, and I had weekly gigs every Wednesday and Thursday (I’m a mandolin player). The gigs were early restaurant gigs as opposed to later bar gigs, but they still took a pretty good chunk of time. Every Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 I’d have to be driving to the restaurant. I would leave work and then go to… another job. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE playing music and am very grateful that I can do it. I needed some down time, though, so I made the tough choice to stop playing those gigs. I didn’t rely on this change, though, for me to be at peace. First I learned how to be cool whether I was busy a lot or not.
So feel free to take inventory of your own life and how much down time you have to relax and do nothing. Or do whatever you want. But don’t think you need that to be at peace – just let go of what you’re carrying now, in this moment. That’s something you can do anytime.