Almost every day I hear people refer to the times we are living in as uncertain and chaotic. I rarely hear people walk into the bookstore and say, “Did you feel the peace and harmony today? It was UNREAL!” While there’s always a part of me questioning whether life is more uncertain and chaotic than ever, or if as a result of our growing omnipresence (thank you, Internet), we simply see more of EVERYTHING, the question remains:
Where can I find peace and harmony in this crazy, crazy world?
It's interesting to note that the eye of the storm, that epicenter of all fearsome tropical cyclones, is a region of mostly calm weather. If we are to learn from Nature then is the same true for us? If we find our own center, can we remain unscathed in the calamity of a world perpetually teetering on the brink of one disaster or another? Perhaps more importantly, can we remain calmly at the center of our own personal storms consisting of traffic jams, deadlines, work and home stresses?
In India, life as we know it is often referred to as maya which means magic or illusion or more poetically, "The Cosmic Veil." Sages of old came to see the world in this way as a result of meditating on the impermanent nature of outer life. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus and the Buddha agreed,
"Change is the only constant."
For some reason, this 1968 tune came into my head from Blood Sweat & Tears, unlikely philosophers though they be! ;-)
"What goes up, must come down. Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round."
When we realize that we can't rely on the outer world for happiness and security we must look within. There will always be suffering, misunderstanding and conflict. It is the nature of the world. In recognizing the impermanence of all things in life and in making peace with that truth we allow ourselves to fully embrace life in all of its ups and downs. Finding your center in the storm can be as simple as watching your breath.
PRACTICE: Take a moment, to reconnect to your breath. From the time of birth to the time of death, the breath is always with you. Let the breath be your "Eye of the storm". Begin with a slow, deep inhale followed by a slow, deep exhale. When all the air has left the lungs, allow the breath to flow in of its own accord. Feel that with each successive breath your heart is growing, and your calm and peaceful "eye of the storm" is growing with it. You may end your practice with hands to your heart and palms together in Anjali mudra or Namaste.
What technique has helped you to remain calm in the midst of life's storms? Please share in the comments below!