Staying calm amidst the turmoil of our daily lives is almost a sort of super power. We’ve all came across those people who possess the ability to stay calm no matter what is happening in their lives. It’s a very beautiful quality to have. Fortunately, it’s also one that any of us can develop with a fair amount of prayer and meditation.
Let’s consider prayer the act of speaking to God and meditation the act of listening.
The first thing I do every morning is cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I go through the alphabet from A to Z and come up with something I am grateful for that begins with each letter.
- Et cetera
Once I have shifted my mood and become aware of all I am grateful for I pray from that place of grace. I always use prayer as a way to state my intentions so, naturally, I use prayers that resonate with our highest ideals as a species. For example:
St. Francis Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Once we are aligned with the highest ideals of our species the next step is to go within. Now, the Buddhists have given us one of the best systems of all times. Mindfulness meditation, at its core, is simply to bring awareness to the breath.
That means breathe in through the nostrils deeply for a few rounds. Come into ourselves and find that peaceful stillness within. Then it’s only a matter of focusing on the sensation of the breath coming in and out of the nostrils.
The easiest way to do this is to count to 10.
- Breath in, breath out- 1
- Breath in, breath out- 2
- Breath in, breath out- 3
Simple. Now they call it mindfulness meditation because this simple act helps bring awareness to our interior life. As your mind wanders and you train yourself to come back to the breath you start to notice where it wanders off to. Then you can catalog what emotional states these thoughts are arising from.
Spiritual growth is a slow process. Meditation will never be a quick and easy fix. Praying from a place of intention does not mean we are instantly spiritual gurus. What these practices do is give us an anchor to return to when the chaos begins.
By becoming aware of our interior landscape we become aware of how the things we come in contact with on a daily basis affect us. We see how certain places trigger emotions that form into thoughts that are unhealthy. We bring awareness into our lives.
With enough practice we can come back to the calm that we cultivated on morning practice. We can return to the breath, to that peaceful stillness within. Then we can pause and ask ourselves some simple questions:
- Is is what’s being triggered within me worth reacting to?
- Would would reacting in my current emotional state reflect my highest ideals?
- Am I actually upset by what is being triggered or is there a deeper issue? Some past trauma rearing its head.
- Am I actually in danger or is this just an issue of pride?
Mysticism is very practical in this way. By understanding what is going on inside of us we are better able to deal with what is going on outside of us. We are less likely to react and more likely to respond in a helpful and positive way. This is the gift of spirituality. This is the joy that comes from discovering that inner freedom all humans posses.
We have zero control over other people but we absolutely have control over ourselves. Why not strengthen our inner sense of calm and enter the world being an example for others.
This is how you start being the change you want to see in the world. Why not start today