Being a peace with yourself, and having that elusive peace of mind is something that gurus have been seeking for ages. The Buddha taught long ago that life itself is suffering, and the only hope is to “detach” from reality somehow.
But if you’re like most folks, you’ve got bills to pay, a job you hate, and people expecting you to do things that really don’t enjoy all that much. To be sure, there’s other things you’d rather be doing that sitting in traffic, dealing with office gossip, and telling your boss what a swell guy he is.
Everyday Peace of Mind
So any techniques to achieve peace of mind have got to be accessible pretty much anywhere and anytime. Sure, you can go to a mountain retreat with a bunch of chanting monks, but that’ll eat up your vacation time, and those happy memories will soon fade once you hear who’s dating whom and which department is having their hours cut.
So, before we get into exactly how to achieve peace of mind, let’s first figure out what causes so much stress. Plenty of studies have been done on rats, and whenever they are in a situation they can’t control, they have an incredible amount of stress.
Less Control More Stress
A huge study was done in the United Kingdom in sixties, and stress related diseases like heart disease and hypertension were highly correlated with people who had jobs that didn’t allow them to feel very much in control of their destiny.
The worst jobs, as far as being correlated to heart disease, had low pay, high stress, and low authority. They didn’t have much say in what they did, if they messed up they got in heaps of trouble, and they didn’t make much money.
On the other hands, jobs that had high stress weren’t so bad, so long as they came with high pay,and high authority. Stress isn’t so bad if you’re stressed out by things you can control. It’s when you feel out of control that stress suddenly feels like a cage from which you cannot escape.
The big clue here is to not worry about things you can’t control. Since you can’t control them, there’s no sense in trying to figure out how to change them. If you’re stuck in traffic, for example, getting angry at the guy in front of you isn’t going to help matters much.
Emotions Exist For A Reason
On the other hand, imagine that you are on the escalator at the mall. The guy in front of you stops at the top, and looks around, unsure where to go. You scream at him, “Hey buddy! Get a move on!”
Now, this WILL have an effect. He’ll hear you and get out of the way.
The problem is that our unconscious minds really know the difference between the two situations. We want to go somewhere, and some guy’s in our way. In one instance, we scream, he moves, and we’re happy.
In the other instance, we scream, the situation stays the same, and our stress begins to bubble over.
Step one, then is to understand that there is a time and place for emotional outbursts. After all, we have them for a reason. We may not be cavemen, out hunting zebras every day, but our emotional responses to situations do some in handy. Stifling anger when you have it will only make matters worse.
Choose To Let It Out
One thing you can do, when stuck in situations where you have zero control, is let out a good, deep yell. But make sure you tell yourself beforehand that you’re not expecting this yell to change anything.
Imagine that it’s kind of like the teapot that’s about to boil over, and is shooting that steam through that small hole.
If you’re in a situation where screaming out at the top of your lungs would be inappropriate, (like in a meeting at work for instance) then “save” up your anger for later.
If you routinely give yourself some space to let out your natural anger, you’ll start to feel a lot more in control over time.
Beat It Out
For example, many therapists have recommended spending at least ten or fifteen minutes every single week with some quality time between you, your bed, and a tennis racket or baseball bat.
Just wait until everybody is out of the house, and the windows are closed so the neighbors can’t hear, and wail away, bleeding out all that stress from the previous week.
It may take a couple of weeks, but pretty soon, instead of feeling “trapped” when those situations arise, you’ll just mentally “file away” your anger to be expressed later, when it’s more convenient.
Quick Self Reflection
A fantastic addition to this strategy is some quick meditation. All worry is really about the future or the past. The more you force yourself to contemplate the current moment, the less likely you’ll feel stress.
One great way to do this is to concentrate on your feelings. Focus on the various feelings in your body. Feel them without using any labels or expectations. Try and avoid feelings of what you might call pain or pleasure.
Find some fairly neutral feelings, and explore them. What shape are they? What color are they? What are the outside edges of your feelings? What do they look like?
Feel the vibrations of the energy of the feeling. Feeling the pure, raw energy in the feeling.
Choose Your Thoughts
The trick about thinking is that we can’t “not” think certain thoughts. We can only put thoughts in our heads, we can’t really remove them.
So when you start noticing thoughts that lead to stress, quickly replace them with other thoughts. This exercise with your feelings is a great way to do that.
Sure it takes concentration, and sure it may feel a bit boring and not as emotionally satisfying (believe it or not) as feeling the stress and helplessness of a victim, but it will help you to find that peace of mind that you’ve been looking for.
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