Many years ago, I belonged to an esoteric group where we were encouraged to change our names to help engender new qualities in ourselves. The thinking was that every time someone called you by this new name, it would remind you about the quality you were trying to grow in yourself. In the six years I belonged to this group I gave myself two names. The first one was ‘Serena’ because I knew I needed to learn to be calmer as I was very prone to negative thoughts, didn’t have much resilience and frequently panicked when I thought I couldn’t cope. Four years later, I gave myself another name. This time it was ‘Sophia’ (meaning ‘personification of wisdom’) which was, to say the least, a bit ambitious to try to achieve in one lifetime! It was, however, a step in the right direction…….
Suffice to say, 35 years later, I’m still working on growing serenity and wisdom!! However, I’m glad to say that the passing of time has allowed me to grow a bit wiser; and that staying calm in the face of adversity is something I can do better these days, mainly thanks to a number of techniques which I didn’t have at my disposal back then.
It’s very hard to stay calm when suffering inner turbulence. Being in that kind of head space causes the mind and emotions to become chaotic which compounds what’s happening and frequently results in yet more stress. Not surprisingly, this causes problems with decision-making often resulting in making unwise choices. And this in turn leads to further frustration, impatience, anger and self-judgement. Before you know where you are, the whole thing can spiral out of control. Do you recognise this state? I’m pretty sure you’ve all been there at some point…..
Many people tend to plough into a problem and try to fix it (or find a way out of it) from that place of overwhelm/dread/anxiety/anger (or wherever they are). But how can you see your way clearly out of a predicament when you’re so wound up you’re not thinking properly?
The latest theory on how best to deal with this kind of crisis is to first of all take a bit of time to access a greater state of ease before you attempt to tackle the actual problem. This helps you to centre and ground and generally feel more able to let some of the stress subside. As this happens, you’ll find you can approach the issue more calmly and objectively.
In the East they have a saying which is: “The Heart is the seat of the Mind”. And it’s true. As you become calmer, so you can re-connect with your heart, which then allows you to steer clear of knee-jerk reactions and biased opinions in response to challenging situations. When you can calm down enough to listen to your heart, you’re creating a more easeful flow of energy within yourself which helps to regulate the balance between your heart, mind and emotions. In this way, you can facilitate a better chance of accessing an intuitive connection with your ability to reason, understand, and make wise decisions, thereby easing your way more skillfully through your difficulties.
Silvia Hartmann, who developed Energy EFT, (which I’m incorporating more and more into my practice these days as opposed to the Classic EFT I first learnt), teaches us that in order to deal with difficult emotions, thoughts and memories, we need to do some de-stressing first – BEFORE we even begin to work on the issue in hand. She reasons that to try to dissolve a problem when your body chemistry and energy levels are in such a chaotic state, makes it more difficult to tap it away and also takes a lot more time. What she says is that if you’re using EFT to help yourself through a challenge or difficulty, you should calibrate the amount of stress you feel and then first do several tapping rounds on “all this stress” which you should then tap down systematically. i.e. I’m too stressed to think/ all this stress running round my body/ too much stress, etc….. And it’s not until you’ve got the stress down to around a 2 or a 3, that you should then start tapping on the actual problem which is causing the stress.
I must say, I’ve found ‘de-stressing before addressing’ works a treat not only on myself, but also for clients. So I really want to encourage those of you who have done EFT sessions or trainings with me (or someone else) to try tapping on the stress factor BEFORE you address the issue in hand and notice how much quicker you can then deal with the actual problem.
If however you haven’t learnt EFT, then there’s something else you can do which emanates from the wonderful HeartMath Institute for which I have huge admiration and respect. This technique, written by HeartMath founder, Doc Childre, proposes that ‘taking time to access our inner ease is helpful, not for just bailing out of emotional turbulence, but to use during the day for maintaining connection and coherent alignment between the heart, mind and emotions.’
This is what you do:
- If you are stressed, acknowledge your feelings as soon as you sense that you’re out of sync or engaged in common stressors – feelings such as frustration, impatience, anxiety, overload, anger, being judgmental, mentally gridlocked, etc.
- Take a short time out and do some heart-focussed breathing – i.e. breathe a little slower than usual; pretend you’re breathing through your heart or chest area with each in-breath and out-breath. (This is proven to help create coherent wave patterns in your heart rhythm – which helps restore balance and calm in your mental and emotional nature while activating the affirming power of your heart.)
During the heart-focussed breathing, imagine with each breath that you’re drawing in a feeling of inner-ease and infusing your mental and emotional nature with balance and self-care from your heart. It’s scientifically proven that radiating love and self-care through your system activates beneficial hormones and boosts your immunity.
Practicing will increase your awareness of when the stressful emotion has calmed into a state of ease. The mind and emotions operate on a vibrational level. Slowing down the stressful vibration helps re-establish the co-operation and balance between heart, mind and emotions (rather like an old electric fan that rattles until you turn it to a slower speed, which often quiets and restores the unbalanced vibration.)
- When the stressful feelings have calmed, affirm with a heartfelt commitment that you want to anchor and maintain the state of ease as you re-engage in your projects, challenges or daily interactions.
- Shifting to our inner-ease space at the onset of stressful feelings helps to prevent many stressful scenarios and creates a much easier transit through challenges and resistances.
- For further information about HeartMath: www.heartMath.org