When I woke up this morning I wondered if it might not be the best time to be sharing insights into finding inner peace. We’re at a turning point in my younger son’s education after years of him being desperately unhappy in a classroom setting. He made a decision over the weekend that out of all the options I’ve presented to him about how we could change things and how they might work, he wants to make a clean break from school and to learn with me and no tutors at this point. This brought up various emotions around whether we should have done it sooner, what home educating will look like for us, how I’ll be able to adjust my work while helping him learn, and so on. At the same time, my husband’s work is an absolute nightmare and he’s been working longer hours since the beginning of lockdown. He’s dealing, along with various colleagues, with the change in how exams work in this difficult time all over the world. He seems to be heading towards a bout of cluster headaches with all the stress and chaos of the past 13 months. If you’ve never heard of cluster headaches, they’re also known as ‘suicide headaches’ because of the severity of their effects. Also, I’ve just had a couple of weeks of feeling unwell, first with a sickness bug around the 2nd anniversary of my Mum’s death that wiped be out for a few days, and took a while to recover from because of the complications of me having kidney disease, and then with excruciating adenomyosis pains. This is all on top of the huge time of change that’s going on in the world at the moment with restrictions being lifted in a lot of places and us all coming to terms with our inevitably altered mental states. It might easily be suggested that this is a time to have a full on breakdown, stick my head in the sand and rely on my comfort zones, or be paralysed by how overwhelming it all is.
However… I’ve worked out that the way to inner peace is through accepting, allowing, and trusting the flow of emotions, thoughts, feelings and energy that are in a constant state of change. The way I’ve found to do this is by simplifying my day where possible, slowing down my breathing often to reset my nervous system, and remembering that things won’t be this way for long. One analogy I use in my classes is that our peaceful mind (or ‘true mind/self/spirit’) is the clear blue sky that’s always there behind the clouds and chaotic weather that comes and goes.
Through meditating and practicing qigong, I’ve managed a huge shift in my anxiety levels and my ability to feel at peace even with a lot of difficult life experience. I’ve been able to deal with chaos more calmly for quite a while now. It’s hard to put a date on it because it’s a gradual thing rather than a sudden moment, and it’s only from looking back and realising quite how much I’ve dealt with in the past 6 or 7 years in particular that I can see how far I’ve come from the days when I used to overthink and overanalyse everything, feel overwhelmed all the time, never feel like I was on top of things, and was prone to depression and using unhealthy methods to escape from anxieties.
It can be hard to allow ourselves to feel difficult emotions. The fight, flight, freeze or fawn responses that are triggered when our brains perceive threat is an instinct we all carry. The point isn’t to deny we have feelings and thoughts or pretend we don’t feel this difficult feeling, but to accept, allow and understand that it isn’t ‘you’. It’s a passing cloud which will float (or flow) across and away your tranquil sky-mind. Your calm and still self is always there. Meditation, qigong and becoming generally more mindful of yourself in the here and now are the less trodden steps leading to your inner peace under the chaos. The chaos will always be there to varying degrees, but so will your tranquil self.
My tendency towards taking a less trodden path in life has always served me well and I highly recommend making changes that move you towards what will make you happier rather than what you’re told is acceptable and possible. I truly believe that if we were all more accepting of differences (in ourselves and other people) instead of expecting everyone to fit into certain ideals and rigid structures of acceptability, that we’d all be happier and more productive. We’d be comfortable in our own skin and with our place in the world. If something doesn’t feel right and is making you unhappy, there is probably a way to adapt. Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way it can be done. The possibilities in this world are endless. Moving your energy towards happiness and positivity is going to have a profound effect on everyone around you as well as yourself.
If this makes sense to you, and you’d like support to find your inner peace under the chaos, join me for Make May Mindful on Facebook (see link below) where I’ll be sharing ways to make mindfulness and happiness part of your everyday life.
I’ll be posting lots about mindfulness during May on Instagram too, in fact it will be throughout my social media world in both my Traditional Chinese Medicine and my Art business. I’ll be keeping it as short and simple as possible as it will probably be just at the time when I start home educating my son! All links below for you to check out my posts and get involved if you want to.