Three Free Ways to Connect with Calm

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Calmness has been linked to improved decision making, heart benefits, and more enjoyable relationships. But how to tap into it?

Here are three free ways to connect with a calming moment.

Slow Down

We don’t yet know all the effects of being in motion so much of the time, but the fast rate of the motion is being studied. Psychology Today reported on numerous mental and health benefits of slowing down. Processing fast moving images has been shown to alter brain behavior in children. Dimitri A Christakis reported on 30 studies in an October 2011 issue of Pediatrics showing executive functioning and other impairments or alerations.

So how to access this benefit? Moving fast can become automatic. We rush when it is not necessary but is simply a carryover from having rushed in the previous activity. Being aware of unnecessary rushing is the first step. Pausing to consciously shift between activities allows us to decide whether we still need to rush.

We can also modify our self-talk about the pressure or need to rush. Before answering machines, many felt panic if they did not get to the phone ring on time. Some people still let out an expletive if they pick up the phone too late. Rarely is this a crisis but our autonomous nervous system may still react as if it is an emergency. Instead, take steps to arrange other ways to handling incoming pressures to carve out a space to shift pace.

Imagine rushing to catch a bus. Once you are on board, you can sit down and relax. It would not make sense to still rush up and down the bus aisle after boarding. Just as senseless is our maintaining a breakneck pace for every task in front of us. Make conscious decisions about your pace.

Sharing

The pressure of keeping disturbances bottled up inside works against a state of calm. Sharing can be as simple as keeping a journal or attending a support group. Sarah Townsend, assistant professor at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science (December 2013) that taking with someone we perceive to  have the same feelings reduces stress.

We all need to release self-imposed impossible expectations. Self-talk plays a role in accessing calm here as well. Reject the assumption that you are so unique that no one has been challenged like you are or has never met this problem. That gives permission to share it with someone else who is trustworthy and understanding.

 Even making a voice memo gets your frustration out of your body and allows your brain to restore serotonin and dopamine levels. Your brain does not know whether you are talking to a real person or not.

Silence

Perhaps the least favorite or most overlooked way to calm down, silence is the easiest to achieve. Pricey noise-cancelling headphones are not required. Simply walk away from time to time from an intensively noisy environment to a quiet one.  

What happens most often is that we are unaware of the stress buildup from noise. Omnipresent music and broadcasts in the background have become a wallpaper of sound around us. The impact is still entering our mind and bodies.

Hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects have been linked to noise pollution, enough to make it part of the Clean Air Act.

Besides the washroom, sometimes simply shutting the door if we have an office or walking to another quieter room can do the trick. Pause, breathe and return when you feel a greater sense of calm within.

Christian Science Reading Rooms join libraries in a testimony to the need for quiet. Take lunches in a quiet place. Decide to delay turning on news or music when you get home to enjoy quiet. If you are not the first to get home, avoid having news or music automatically on in your car.

It will be surprising how many places we can remove noise from around us once we become aware of its intrusiveness. The growing popularity of meditation aides attests to an increasing appreciation of stilling the chattering mind that results from an environment overloaded with sensory pressures.

Slowing down, sharing, and silence can give us immediate access to calm. Share a comment on your favorite free way to increase calm in your day.

New Recovery Workbook

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More awareness of gender abuse within church groups has become news recently. Doctrinal groups both reflect and shape the culture they are in.

Groups like Christian for Biblical Equality, FaithTrust Institute, and Twitter voices such as #savedfromthe silence, #defendthe sheep, #churchtoo, #emptythepews and others are witnessing that church is not always safe for women.

During Domestic Violence month, I want to point out that an estimated 25% of church women are abused in their homes. They stay longer because of wrestling with faith questions.

Although prevalence seems to be higher in conservative religions, enforcement of patriarchy as God’s will is not limited to these groups. Many books are now coming out about the struggle to maintain faith within a system that does not honor the equality of women.

However, I did not find a self-help recovery workbook to  help women sort out the complex and subtle pressures to keep them in an abusive relationship within some churches.

That is why I am happy to report that my workbook, Redemption from Biblical Battering, is now available on Amazon and Kindle. I hope you will consider it when you meet a woman of faith who thinks she must choose between her faith and her marriage.

 

I’m Inconvenient. Are You?

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Al Gore’s film about climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth”, made a big splash and was aptly name. But increasingly human beings are considered inconvenient because of two bullies: greed and speed. Watkins Glen State Park NY

There are days when I feel like a character in The Matrix. Others would be pleased if they could just strap me to a table and hook my bank account up to their tubes.

More businesses want me to just set up online accounts which siphon money directly from me to their account. They never have to see me, talk to me, or deal with me at all, unless it’s the nanosecond requirement for me to click “I agree.” Nor is it possible to explain a situation that does not fit their parameters over the phone.

Phone trees and websites are designed to Continue reading

The Unwanted Mother

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Right now I have an 89-year-old friend who moved away from her lifetime residence and cadre of friends to a retirement home closer to her daughter. Her daughter wanted this move because it would save her expensive flights to visit her mother. Although they were not especially close, my friend wanted to be nearer to her daughter in case she became ill.

My friend spends her days isolated in the facility. Her daughter does not see or talk to her very much and it is difficult to begin making friends at this age, she says. It is now apparent that her daughter may not be there even if she is ill. She thinks she made a mistake but she cannot move back now. She is too old.pexels-photo-1051076.jpeg

The Institute on Aging reported in 2010 that older women are twice as likely to live alone Continue reading

A Valentine for Your Inner Child

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“Every human person is inevitably involved with two worlds: the world they carry within them and the world that is out there. All thinking, all writing, all action, all creation and all destruction is about that bridge between the two worlds.” – John O’Donahue

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of connection. Sending heartfelt thoughts is a way to reach out, perhaps say what can’t be said, with a greeting already packaged.

Sometimes the day is not welcomed. There may be complex feelings, confusion or Continue reading

What’s Your Lump of Coal?

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sack coal

Holiday seasons are prime times for exalted expectations. Amid all the hype, images of impossibly happy families, outlandish claims for owning hundreds of products, or a desire to live up to other myths, we can easily become discouraged if we don’t see our own lives living up to the big screen.

A children’s story threatens that if we are not “good”, we will only receive a lump of coal. Early on we learn the power of pleasing others, especially those who can give us gifts, fulfill promises, and help us feel especially loved.

After we grow up, we do not believe these stories affect us. Still, the holiday season Continue reading

De-Stress Your Self-Talk

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screamOh my God, now I have to put up with this too. I can’t believe the nerve. What does he expect?! He never thinks of anyone else. It’s damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

Feeling better after reading this? Of course not. But each day many of us inflict barrages like this on our poor adrenal system voluntarily.

We can do ourselves and our nervous system a huge favor by recognizing the top three categories of stress talk and replacing or releasing them to the fiery pit from which they came.

Extremes:

In this sample, extremes are pushing you off a cliff fast. Phrases like “OMG”, can’t believe” and all-inclusive generalizations or abstractions box us in. There’s a reason for the phrase “two horns of a dilemma”- it’s a false choice.

We have probably been exposed to those tests where we have to make forced choices, Continue reading

The 1-5 Food Plan

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I am a believer in the idea that what we focus on increases. What we are thankful for increases. And that our attention creates our intention.   bottled-water

What if I applied this to my food choices each day? I challenged myself recently to try an experiment. If after a week  it didn’t help me feel better about my eating, so be it. I had 7 days of not feeling bad Continue reading

Lighting the Mother Shadow

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For some women Mother’s Day is not an easy day. Daughters of mothers who could not nurture them experience emotional fallout that casts a shadow over this day and indeed their lives.2015-03-06-16-13-26

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about the Stone Child, stories and myths of the unmothered child. As women, we experience “collapsing” and a wild hunger that leads us to doubt ourselves, have difficulty seeing ourselves accurately, engage in risky or impulsive behaviors, and an inability to maintain healthy boundaries. We miss training in honoring our intuition, consciousness and common sense. To recover, women must grow their own internal mother to warm their hearts through meditation, connecting with nature, bodywork, and support from other women. We must come to terms with our mother shadow, for she never leaves us. We cannot escape the effects and should not. Our mother effect is the source of our creative energy. Our emotions are our guide to our next level for spiritual development.

Recently a group of women in my workshop Continue reading