The Art of Calm

Imagine that you’re about to commence a difficult conversation with a colleague or friend. Are your shoulders starting to tense? Is your stomach knotting up? Do you feel like you’re bracing for a fight?

Instead of being at the mercy of your emotions in a stressful situation, why not choose to feel calm?

Not only is this possible, but probably easier than you think. It’s all down to moving off auto-pilot and developing the habit of paying attention to what’s going on with your body. 


It’s not difficult to notice when you’re in the grip of an extreme emotion like intense anger. But it’s not so easy to notice your lesser emotions, the general run-of-the-mill emotions that you experience every day. But you should. Because every emotion that you experience impacts how you will behave.

Try this – right now:

  • Sit back. 
  • Close your eyes. 
  • Notice how you’re breathing – fast/slow – shallow/deep? 
  • Silently scan your body starting with your feet and then move on up through your legs to your face and neck – don’t forget your arms, hands, and fingers – did you find some discomfort? Where? What does it feel like?
  • How would you describe your mental state at this moment – tired/alert – open/preoccupied?
  • What’s the connection between your bodily discomfort and your state of mind?

Jot down your observations in a notebook and then in a couple of hours, repeat.  With practice this exercise should only take a minute or two and if you’re to become master of your emotions, you’ll be doing it, at a minimum, several times a day. Once you’ve established a track record with your practice, you’ll soon start to spot unhelpful emotions as soon as they arise.


OK, now what?

There are several options. The least helpful, is to ignore your feelings. The most helpful is to actively choose them using anchors.

How does it work?

Some triggers, like the knotted stomach, make your feel tense and anxious. But other triggers, like seeing a friendly, familiar face, make you feel excited.

All triggers are external stimuli that lead to an emotional or behavioural response and that response will usually be automatic.  

But not all triggers are naturally occurring like the familiar face. Some triggers will be self-created using anchoring in order to experience the emotion that serves you best.

Managing difficult emotions is as easy as relaxing in the bath

Try this – right now:

  • Sit back.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Think back to a time when you were feeling really relaxed – maybe you were soaking the bath – was the water warm – what music, if any, was playing – what fragrances were lingering in the air?
  • As you let yourself go, allow the feeling of calm to pervade your whole being and when that feeling is at its most intense – ANCHOR IT – physically, by touching the tip of your nose or pressing together your thumb and forefinger.
  • Stop.
  • Wait.
  • Repeat.

Now, back to start a difficult conversation with your spouse or colleague. Are your shoulders starting to tense? Is your stomach knotting up?

USE YOUR ANCHOR – exactly as you’ve been practicing – if you’re now feeling calm, great!  If not, keep practicing and in no time, you’ll be ready to handle stress-inducing situations of all kinds with the same calm and ease as taking a relaxing bath.

Published by debramoolenaar

I'm an existential astrology coach (and a novelist too)

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