Building calm


In times of duress we can help ourselves build a core of calm to strengthen our resilience to better cope with challenging times.


The following is taken from Rick Hanson's online Wednesday meditation series.


'Brain tips for deep calm' (24/09)


1. Take a minute every day to focus on really calming the body, for example through making long exhalations.Take 3 breaths where the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation (3 secs: 6 secs). Simply breathing into the diaphragm reduces anxiety as can focusing on the eyes, and the space between the eyes.  The parasympathetic nervous system is being primed to soothe and calm the body. This kind of breath practice and visualising focus for a minute at a time can help build trait relaxation - neurologically we are hard-wiring new ways of being.


2. Grounded in research on memory and learning - we have discovered the benefit of knowing where we are and what is okay about it. This goes back to our rodent ancestors - often related to what they were smelling. The capability of the brain for place memory - focusing on and highlighting where you are is calming.

This is especially the case if there is trauma history. Ask: 'What is ok in the place where you are?". Whatever is going on outside - and the place may not be perfect - but what is okay about it? When there's inner insecurity and shakiness, we can still literally 'know our place'. From the conceptual this can become embodied. This knowing comes from a very ancient part of our brain where self-protection is key.


3. We can gain calm through relatedness ... thinking about people important in our lives... looking at photos of family members ... or reminding ourselves of those people who serve as examples to us .. teachers, mentors, spiritual guides.

Having a sense of community and identification with others can both soothe and strengthen.


4. Deep within us there is be an animal vitality, a sense of fundamental resilience where we can draw upon a core of strength and grit that remains when all else is down. A feistiness, determination that we can draw on at moments of huge challenge. This is deep visceral knowing we can remind ourselves about.


These are simple ways to build resilience in our minds and bodies.