It’s easy to lose one’s peace when you keep getting unpleasant news. Last week, another uncle of mine passed away suddenly. And yesterday, a friend of my parents, also a neighbour. While both gentlemen were neither young nor healthy, there is a sense of loss and a reminder of your mortality. And suddenly, you wonder if you are ready for death. In times like these, we need to try seeking serenity through a number of ways, including prayer and meditation.
“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Just as the sea remains rough for a while after a storm, so our mind continues to buzz when we withdraw from our busy lives and spend a few moments in prayer. Funnily, in 15 minutes of quiet reflection, we might spend 14 minutes in silencing our mind! But that 1 minute of quiet time is often enough to bring calm and serenity.
Various practices help us to still our minds:
Stilling The Body
Setting into a balanced, comfortable position helps you forget your body and focus the inner self. While the lotus position in yoga – sitting on the foor with the spine perfectly erect and each foot on the inner thigh opposite – is recommended, sitting upright on a straight-backed chair will do too.
Tense and relax each of your muscles in turn – start with your feet and ankles then work up to your shoulders. Relax the muscles of your face into a smile. Listen to the rhythm of your breathing for a few minutes.
Some people calm their thoughts by listening to quiet music or a recording of natural sounds, such as waves breaking on the shore; choose a recording that gradually fades away, so that you are delivered into silence.
Repeating A Phrase
Other people repeat a simple sentence, a mantra, such as “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” (from Christian mystic Julian Norwich). Do not think about the overall meaning of the words, but repeat them slowly and concentrate on one word at a time.
Don’t Worry About Your Mind Wandering
Try not to worry if your mind wanders. If you catch a thought, let it register and then allow your mind to sink back into calm. Perhaps, you are tempted to judge that today’s silence is not as good as yesterday’s! This is your monkey mind at work, distracting you.
Dealing With The Feelings That Surface
Often during this time of silence, feelings of repressed anger, frustration or desire may surface from your unconscious. Make a mental note to deal with them later. It might even help to keep a notepad and jot them down.
Bring your mind back and just stay in the moment, enjoying the calm and serenity and refueling your spirit.