How to be calm in a busy world
We are living in a busy world. Or at least it seems to be. Everything needs to happen right now and therefore we seem to be running. While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be busy from time to time, it is important to slow down. I am having a bit of a challenging time lately, feeling overwhelmed a (more than) significant amount of time. Therefore, I have been exploring more consciously how I could slow down a bit and catch up. Today I will be talking you through the stuff that is working for me.
Taking advice from a Buddhist monk
My first step towards being calm was Haemin Sunim’s book. In his book The Things You Can See Only, When You Slow Down Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim translates everyday life matters through a calm perspective. Like the subtitle gives away, he teaches how to be calm in a busy world. Ironically, I couldn’t wait for a physical copy of the book to be delivered so I bought the e-book version. I downloaded it immediately on my e-reader and (speed)read the book in one go.
After the first fast reading session, I have been revisiting my favourite teachings from the book. One of which I’d like to share with you. Most people are having the assumption that the world we live in gets busier and busier. Whether that is the case, Sunim leaves in the middle. He explains that your mind and the world are not existing independently:
“What our mind focuses on, becomes our world. Only when we slow down, can we finally see clearly our relationships, our thoughts, our pain. As we slow down we are no longer tangled in them.”
What I love about this passage is that our busy perception is just in our own minds. Therefore, if we can change our perception, we can automatically become (and feel) less busy. Furthermore, it teaches us that root cause of the problem isn’t external and so the solution it also isn’t in other people’s hands.
How I like to slow down
The best way one slows down is quite personal, but I have managed to collect three tips I think will work for everyone anytime.
Bring some awareness back into your body. Feel the muscles in your face. Are they feeling tensed? Chances are you are clenching your jaw or frowning your forehead. Relax your face and smile. You will instantly feel some relief and calm.
Sounds in our environments can unconsciously cause us stress. Think about the sound of your phone or email notifications. Turn them off to release yourself from that stress. If you’d like to take this one a step further: create total silence. For this you can use construction earplugs. I used to do this all the time in University as these earplugs are really soundproof. It’s a very affordable and easy solution to shut out all noise.
Last but not least: Uni-task. Just focus on the task at hand and try to shut out everything else. If a thought pops up, write it down so you will not forget it and then let it go. Multitasking is an activity where most of your attention span is wasted on task switching. Focusing on one thing at a time, while letting go of the rest increases the feeling of calm.
Now I am curious to know: How are you? Feeling busy? What do you do to stay calm? Let us know in the comments below!