Quick fixes and inner peace may seem unlikely bedfellows - but there are simple tools you can use to feel more serene
Wouldn’t it be great to be more patient, unruffled and at ease? To be able to hold onto that sense of contentment and serenity that comes over you when you experience a gorgeous sunset, a walk in the woods or a restful soak in a bath. Yet those moments of peace tend to quickly evaporate and anxiety, ever present in the background, finds a way to creep back to the surface. The good news is that becoming more serene doesn’t have to mean changing your lifestyle completely or hours of meditation or yoga. It can be as simple as practising some easy calming techniques that you can call upon in stressful circumstances or when you’re just feeling a bit ruffled. Have a go at the following micro-practices, find out what works for you and use them whenever you need an extra dose of calm.
Feed your good wolf
You may have heard the old Native American parable about the two wolves fighting inside of us all. There’s the wolf of fear and hate and the wolf of love and compassion, and whichever wolf we feed will win the fight. Most people are incredibly hard on themselves both in their thoughts (self-criticism) and behaviour (destructive and self-sabotaging). Yet if we are kind and compassionate to ourselves and feed our good wolf, we develop the ability to have compassion for others.
Try the 4-7-8 breath
This is an ancient breathing technique that restores and recalibrates the central nervous system. The combination of a short inhale followed by a twice-as-long exhale has an immediate effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, putting the brakes on your stress response.
1 Inhale to the count of 4.
2 Hold your breath to the count of 7.
3 Exhale through your mouth as if blowing through a straw to the count of 8.
4 Repeat cycle twice more.
5 Do three cycles in the morning and the evening for a calmer, less reactive disposition.
Consult your inner wise woman
Imagine if you could consult your future self for advice or counsel? Perhaps your 98-year-old self, even now, has some wisdom to impart to you.
1 Close your eyes and imagine yourself at the age of 98.
2 Formulate a question or a concern that you’d like to ask your inner wise woman.
3 Imagine your older, wiser self conversing with your current self – you could even have her write you a letter if that makes it easier.
4 See if a wider perspective shifts your current perception of what’s going on today.
Turn to page 86 of April's The Simple Things for more suggestions, including how to embrace change, giving morning thanks, armchair travel, sitting in child’s pose, carrying a talisman,
and the butterfly hug technique.
Taken from The Little Book of Inner Peace: Simple Practices for Less Angst, More Calm by Ashley Davis Bush (Octopus)