I always asked myself, Is it possible to be peaceful all the time like those great saints? Maybe they find something in Himalaya that gives them calmness. What about people like us who are always living with chaos? Is it possible to get a few moments of peace when we can unload all the stress and re-energize? After many years of introspection and investigation, I have accepted that at this point in time I cannot be peaceful all the time. Instead, have started daily practices that allow me to experience calmness for a few moments. These moments then help me in exercising my duties with utter peace most of the time.
What is a calmness to you and how do you feel when you are peaceful? To share my experience with you, I feel like there is complete silence around me. All the noises either turn melodious or fade away. I am neither feeling regret of my past nor am worried about my future. I experience that I am getting closer to my own self of which we are hardly conscious of in our routine life. It gives the feeling of seeing the Sun clearly when the clouds finally move away. Although these feelings do not stay for a long time, they definitely change the overall vibrations of my existence.
Below are some of the calmness techniques that I have learned over a period of time while studying Yoga and Vedanta. These techniques were also taught and promoted by great sages like Swami Vivekananda and Paramhansa Yogananda. These practices are base of many spiritual institutes as well.
Sitting quietly in solitude – You either love being alone or you are afraid of it. Solitude is about sitting quietly with your own self. This is different from running away and locking yourself in a room. Solitude does not come from any compulsion or fear. It is a conscious choice to switch off the external world for a few moments to find the connection with the internal world. Solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely.
Decide on time and place for the practice of solitude. Try to adhere to the time and preferably sit in the same place every day. You can sit in any posture you are comfortable with. Try to be indifferent to any noise that is coming from outside. Don’t get involved in any activities that will connect you again with the world. Just focus in your inner world. You may try to listen to your body or you may listen to your inner voice. This may come from your intellect or memories. It is quite possible that you start feeling negative due to the uproar of all the negative thoughts. Don’t give any attention. Be comfortable with being alone. Slowly these negative thoughts will go down and you will experience the real peace.
Focus on breath – What we call life is the journey between our first breath and our last one. It is always with us and it is free. Breathing also reflects the state of our mind. Our breathing becomes shallow and fast when we get angry. It becomes slow and deep when we are peaceful. Try this next time when you get angry. Immediately get your focus on the breathing. You can put your attention on your chest, or abdomen or on the air coming out of your nose. You will notice that your breathing is turning deep and you will feel relaxed.
You don’t need to spare out separate time or place for this. You can do it anytime of the day. However, you should do it at regular interval. Either when you take a small break from the work or when you feel tired. If you are comfortable, then you can practice even while doing any job. Turn your attention to breathing and the calmness will prevail.
Practising a little bit of unselfishness – I will be honest with you on this. I struggle to practice this. I am aware that the world will be a beautiful place if all of us become unselfish to some extent. However, most of us are being programmed to think of ourself first. We have been told many times to be kind and to help others and we do it but when it is not harming us in any way. I don’t do it frequently, but whenever I leave my ego and think about the other soul with the intention of help, I really feel the ultimate peace. Maybe we come across 5 to 6 such people who would need our help on a daily basis. Even if we just help one person in the start, we will hopefully become truly unselfish one day.
The question would come as to why should I not be selfish. That is a valid question and I have asked it myself many times. The answer I have received is that all these problems, fears and miseries are connected to this little ego. In those moments of unselfishness, we become free from it. We expand our consciousness. You can do one thing which has helped me. Whenever you are praying or asking God for something, ask for the entire world. If you seek health and peace, then pray for health and peace for everyone. When you think about the world in your prayer, you and your family are already part of it.
Taking refuge in God – All those atheist out there might reject this upfront. For them, it is against there belief system that there is someone who created this world. Someone who is taking care of us and who is always there to help us. Someone in whom we can take refuge when we feel disturbed. However, none of us has the answer to how this world is running on its own. How our basic requirements of air and water is being taken care? There is definitely higher power and we may call it by any name. Just because we don’t see, does not mean that God is not there. We don’t see electricity but we use it every day.
One of my uncles suffered from cancer and passed away last year. The calmness I have seen on his face even while suffering, I have not seen anywhere else. The secret for his peace was his unbroken faith in God, in his Shri Krishna. Maybe we cannot have the faith he had but we can still start believing in God and trust him for our life. It is like our childhood, whenever we had a bad experience we would run to our mother. We knew our mother would take care of everything.
We still need to work on our problems and worries like a fighter but a peaceful mind help us keep our sanity and allow us to take the right decision.