5 Steps to Recovering Calm When Life Gets Speedy
Do you remember the amusement park ride where you stand against the wall of a cylindrical shaped room, and after the room starts spinning around at dizzying speeds, the floor drops out, leaving you plastered against the wall as the room continues to spin? Literally stuck spinning out of your own control without any solid ground to stand on.
Do you ever feel like certain moments of your life are a similarly dizzying, though hopefully a less dramatic and far less nauseating version of that ride?
Life can get really speedy sometimes. Whether you are facing a difficult decision, are in the middle of a challenging situation, find yourself in a time of struggle or maybe just have too many things to do and not enough time to do them in, there are moments when it can feel like life is pressing you up against the wall of a rapidly spinning room. We literally get spun up on the inside by everything that is occurring on the outside. In these moments, I like to do the following things to help slow it all down, to unwind the spin, allowing me to return to a much more grounded, calm, centered and enjoyable place.
1. Press the Pause Button. Set down whatever you are doing; especially if you are doing 72 things at one time. Whatever it is, lovingly set it down. Obviously, use common sense if you are driving a car or operating heavy machinery. But, if you find yourself getting all worked up while you are on the phone, kindly ask the person that you are talking to if you can call him/her back. If you are on the computer, just save everything that you are working on, and put the computer into sleep mode. The emails can wait. Facebook can definitely wait. If you can, go into a quiet room and close the door. Just for a few minutes, or moments even, just be in the quiet. You are never trapped by a to-do list or a litany of emails. The feeling that you are stuck in whatever it is that you are doing is an illusion. You are never stuck. You always have choices and you always have the power and the ability to just press the imaginary pause button until the spin slows.
2. Sit Yourself Down and Feel the Ground. Speedy moments can leave me feeling very ungrounded and unsteady, as if I am hovering above the earth, totally untethered and at risk of spinning out into some place that I’d rather not be. It is important to return yourself to a place where you feel rooted and connected, steady and uplifted. If you are able, sit down on the floor. I find a comfortable cross-legged position, like Sukhasana or Easy Pose, to work really well here. If sitting on the floor is not a possibility, then just find somewhere to sit. And, really sit down. Notice that you are sitting and in that noticing allow yourself to feel totally and completely grounded, fully supported by the earth. Remind yourself that the earth is beneath you, that you are connected to it directly, maybe experiencing the sensation of actually being held by the earth. Close your eyes and return to a place of steadiness.
3. Do a Body Check. The body responds in many ways to moments of tension and struggle. Do a scan of your body to see if there are any places that you are tightening, gripping or holding. See if you can soften in those places, letting go of any accumulated stress or tension.
- Open your mouth and stretch your jaw and with your mouth wide open stick your tongue out a few times. Maybe the visual will even make you laugh a bit, which could be a really good thing. When you are finished stretching your mouth and jaw, softly seal your lips, keeping a bit of space between your upper and lower teeth, letting the tongue to remain soft in the mouth.
- Sit tall, lengthening up through the crown of the head, keeping the chin parallel to the earth or maybe even tucked just slightly.
- Roll your shoulders up by your ears and then let them spread wide down your back. Repeat as many times as necessary until you can just let them remain back and down with your heart lifted.
- Be sure that your hands are soft, perhaps even letting them rest in your lap with the palms facing up toward the sky.
4. Exhale. Inhale. Repeat. Truly, just skipping to this step may be all it takes for you to bring a sense of calm back into your being. It often just takes one really big exhale to let go of tension, stress, worry, anxiety or anything else that presses you up against that proverbial wall. Exhale deeply, emptying all the breath. Through your nose inhale fully, deep into bottom of the lungs, allowing the breath to fill all the way up to the collar-bones. Through your mouth, again, exhale fully. Try this three more times. Big, wide, expansive breaths. Then softly seal your lips and begin to breathe rhythmically and steadily through the nose, inhaling to the count of five and exhaling to the count of five. Repeat as long as you like, enjoying the steady quietude that this deep, focused breathing provides.
5. Find Gratitude. When I am feeling stressed out or scattered or even fatigued, nothing grounds me more than remembering all of the blessings in my life. Whether you want to write them down or just list them in your mind, consider everything in your life that you are grateful for, nothing is too small and nothing is too big. Maybe even start from the beginning of today, naming everything that you consider to be a blessing in your life. The practice of uttering “thank you” over and over again is one of the most sacred practices I believe there is. As Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, this will be enough.” Chances are, your state of being will shift after you remind yourself of how truly blessed you are, even with all of the unwritten emails and uncompleted tasks that are waiting for you. Perhaps you will even find that you are grateful for these things as well.
6. Bonus Step – Turn Yourself Upside Down. When life starts to spin you around, sometimes the best thing to do is turn yourself upside down. After returning yourself to a more steady place, connecting to the breath and finding gratitude, you can really put the spin on the spin by turning yourself upside down. This can immediately shift your perspective and return you to a more balanced and grounded place. My favorite is Sirsasana, so if you have a practice of headstand, go for it. If this doesn’t work for you, you could also move into Adho Mukha Svanasana, feeling the steadying effects of having your head beneath your heart.
Find comfort in remembering that no matter how quickly things start moving and no matter how intense individual moments can be, everything is temporary. All of it is fleeting. No feeling is final.