Restorative Stillness Even During Turbulent Times

The last several months, as soon as you think our world conditions could not possibly get worse, they have.  During such harrowing times, it would be easy to let go of your meditation and spiritual disciplines and rail against reality.  But the Bodhisattva path teaches us that our inner freedom actually comes from turning towards our individual and collective experience with an open heart, and thus gain the insights needed to traverse these turbulent times with wisdom, inner fortitude, and compassion.

So, how can you cultivate inner resilience, even during turbulent times?  

Your Breath as Your Inner Guide

Intentionally connect to your breath several times a day, like every time you sit down, find yourself waiting in line, before you turn on your computer, or right before you turn on your smart device.  Stop and notice how your breath feels at that moment.  Does your breath feel shallow, moderate, or deep?  Are you holding your breath?  Is it smooth or shaky?  Cool or warm?  This awareness alone will guide the breath to regulate itself.  Now take one deep breath and watch it from its inception until its very end.  Then follow two more normal breaths from beginning to end.  These two small acts of checking in with your breath, and then following three breaths will not only bring you back into your body and in direct contact with the moment, but it will also help you reset your nervous system to “calm mode”.

Mindful Noting Practice

Practice intermittent “noting” or “labeling” practice during your days.  This mental note is a soft, silent whisper in the mind, a gently placed word that describes your predominant present moment experience.  For instance if you are suddenly feeling very hot, you’d silently note “hot”.  If the air conditioner comes on and blows on you, you may feel a relieving coolness, so gently note “relief”.  You may choose to note your physical sensations, like “tingling”, “heaviness”, “vibrating”, or “pressure”.  If your predominant experience is a strong emotion, note that specific emotion.  Or if the mind is busy, you may note “thinking”.  Do this a few times per day, when you can remember.  Doing so will not only give your inner narrator a job to perform, but it also tends to quiet and calm your inner “worrier” or ‘planner” voice down and instead, invites a restorative inner stillness into your day.