It’s been said thousands of times before, hundreds of books written on it— a cluttered desk, office, or house creates inner turmoil. It’s true. I know it is for me. I cannot write (even a column like this) if there is disarray around me. It is as if my mind picks up the exterior mess and dumps it back inside creating an inner landfill.
Before you begin your workday, clear and organize your desk as best you can. Even if what’s there is in piles, that’s better than loose-leaf papers strewn all over. Organize the desktop on your computer. A monitor screen cluttered with documents can set the mind awhirl. By taking a few moments each day to stay organized, you set the stage for clearer thinking. The calmer you are the clearer your mind will be. That’s a fact.
As "working people" with multiple roles and responsibilities, it is up to us to be as calm as possible—and to access it as often as we can throughout the day. Our homes and businesses need us to be “grounded” and clear thinking. Their success depends on our ability to be present, not scattered; effective, not exhausted.
Know what simple activities plant you back in your calm center—then do them! Step away if you need to. Take a music break. Go outside and breathe in Mother Nature. Walk on your lunch hour. Your inner peace quotient is up to you. It will rise and fall with every choice you make.
I once asked Jungian analyst and author, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in an interview what wisdom was. Her answer? “Wisdom is what works.” I was taken aback by the simplicity of her response, but I knew what she said was true. Wisdom—especially women’s wisdom—is sourced in the practical. It is what we know works, especially what we can and should do to keep things running smoothly—and to take care of ourselves in the process.
Today, begin to take the first steps toward bringing a greater sense of calm into your workday. When you do, I guarantee you will feel your clarity return. And out of that clear-mindedness, your wisdom will rise and make itself known to you. Life will begin to look and feel different, even behind a desk or in the boardroom.
Calm, clear, wise—that’s the magic formula for a successful business and a stellar life.
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52 unique and original practices to help you access that
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I had someone unsubscribe from my e-mail list the other day saying my work was "flat, boring and irrelevant."
My main response to this unexpected missive was, "Really?" I'd been promoting my new book Portable Peace to my list. It's possible s/he had had enough e-mails about the book's release. It's also possible inner peace was not important to this person. Or that they thought peace was not even possible in today's world.
The timing of his/her comment was ironic. Just as the book was being published the Paris bombings occurred. More acts of terrorism ensued and I could feel a flood of fear begin to wash over the people I knew. I watched it surge through Facebook. I thought to myself, this is exactly why inner peace is so important.
The world is a crazy place, perhaps getting even crazier by the minute. I choose not to focus on the insanity in my postings or blogging because I believe that what we focus on expands. If we focus on fear of attack, we will become more fearful. If we worry that we or our loved ones might become victims of attack, we already are victims because that's how terrorism works. Terrorism is about instilling fear in an attempt to control the minds of others.
I choose, instead, to focus on "the good, right and true." I point myself (especially my thoughts and actions) toward what will help. What will uphold the values that we long to see more present in the world. Like peace and compassion and kindness.
If we want to "fight" terrorism, the best thing we can do is take control of our own thoughts and feelings. We must learn how to work with them skillfully so they do not run us—making us even more fearful, worried, anxious or sick. There is a deep well of calm within each of us. We just need to learn how to tap into that reservoir so it cools down our wild thoughts and fiery emotions.
It's imperative to know how to stay calm, wherever we are, no matter what is happening in our lives, or we will suffer immensely. We cannot let fear control us. Being run by fear is a terrible way to live.
The Buddha taught that peace in the world is absolutely possible and I believe this with all my heart. The peace we seek in the world begins with me. And with you. It has to. If we don't do our part to stay calm, clear and wise in the midst of adversity, all we are doing is contributing more suffering to the world. Peace is a matter of individual responsibility. Choosing it again and again all throughout the day is our path.
Inner peace practices are absolutely relevant—and completely necessary—for life in the real world. In fact, they might actually be more important now than ever before as our world community teeters on the edge of normalizing terrorism and offering warlike responses.
Staying calm may seem insignificant to some, but not when you put millions of equally calm people in one place. The results can be profound and game changing. I hope you will join me and make inner peace your priority, as it is mine. Breath by breath, choice by choice, we can create ripples, waves, of kind peace and change our lives as we currently know them.
As someone who has dealt with personal anxiety over the years, I feel compelled to share two strategies for its prevention that have worked very well for me. Rooted in the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion, they can help you make an internal shift, enough to heal and enhance the quality of your life.
Anxiety is one of the most common mind states that we experience today. In fact, it’s been said that parenthood alone breeds anxiety because of the “what if” factor—responsibilities and worries about our children. Statistics tell us that over 20 million women suffer from it.
Since anxiety (precipitated by worry) is so common, it is wise for us to head it off at the pass before it becomes a serious problem in our lives. These two practices can help. Each one prevents build-up, as well as having the power to diffuse anxiety when it begins to rise. By incorporating each into your daily routine, you can create a safe and stable “interior home” for yourself. Schedule one or both of these practices in because if you simply hope to remember to stop to do them, likely you won’t. Like an Energizer Bunny, you’ll just keep going and going—and that’s anxiety producing, too!
1. Use Mindfulness Bells
In temples and monasteries throughout the world, there is often a call to meditation or prayer, sometimes several times throughout the day. These are actually “bells of mindfulness” or chimes that ring at certain times to invite us to stop, breathe, and take stock of how we are being in the world. This is literally a “sacred pause,” a time to stop everything we’re doing and connect with our innate peace.
You can use your watch or the timer on your smart phone to do the same thing. Choose specific times of the day for this: mid-morning or lunchtime, mid-afternoon or early evening. Anytime is a good time to stop and answer the call of a bell of mindfulness. When the bell sounds, simply stop what you’re doing, and take 3 deep breaths. Check-in with yourself throughout the day and notice any tension in your body. Repeat the process.
2. A Breath Prescription
Anxiety can build throughout our days as circumstances arise and things don’t go as planned. Worries build up too. Often doctors prescribe something to take our minds off our troubles. Breath practice can serve us in the same way—naturally!
Designate 2 20-minute periods each day for taking your “breath prescription.” Place your hand upon your lower abdomen so you can see your breath moving into your body. As you inhale, your belly will rise. As you exhale, it will lower, your hand right along with it. Continue this practice for 20 minutes until you feel more calm and centered. (If you can’t dedicate 20 minutes to this practice, start with 5 minutes and build up from there.)
Breathing in this way acts as preventative medicine. It keeps us AWAP (As Well As Possible). And a practice such as this begins to build a strong foundation of inner calm because breathing properly, with intention, stabilizes us. With a strong foundation, the storms of life do not knock us off center so easily. We feel more stable, more able! It can also serve as a trustworthy “prescription” to take when we need a hefty dose of Ahhh ...
A few years ago, when I was serving as a magazine editor and feature writer, I had the privilege of interviewing Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD. I'd admired her work for years.
At the time we were talking about her new venture, The Dangerous Old Woman, and the conversation often returned to the subject of wisdom.
I finally asked her, "How do you define wisdom?"
Her answer, "Wisdom is what works."
I've thought long and hard about her answer and, truthfully, have pretty much taken the definition on as my own.
I used to think of wisdom as something lofty. Something only a gift few people had. Or something to be acquired as you aged and had clocked plenty of life experience.
Abiding by this definition, I believe that each of one of has a deep reservoir of wisdom. It may not feel like it on most days, but it's there. Sometimes the difficulty of daily life keeps us distanced from it, frantically paddling in a swirling pool of yuck and muck where we lack the mental clarity and emotional strength to climb onto steadier ground.
Wisdom is what helps us stand tall—calm, clear, confident. Cognizant that we have what it takes to roll with the ups and downs of life. To love rather than hate. To heal rather than hurt. To grow rather than hide. As Dr. CPE reminds us, yes, wisdom is what works.
A few years ago I was guided to engage a morning process of accessing my own inner wisdom. I wanted to remember what worked in terms of living a wholehearted life. I'd light a candle, set the intention to tap into my own good stuff (and that which the Divine revealed to me), then write it down. Those jottings became the "Beads of Wisdom" I sent out to my e-mail list beginning in 2012.
Today, I launched a new version of these Beads. I call them "Beads of Wisdom 3.0" because they're new and different, because I'm new and different.
Passionate about growth, I vow to always be faithful to what is unfolding within me and to where it's taking me. I'm always happy to share what I'm discovering along the way.
So with great pleasure I invite you to join me for a new and deeper understanding of wisdom and receive a daily dose of mindfulness, lovingkindness, and compassion. A dollop of what works for any of us to live in the highest way possible—calm, clear and wise, no matter what.
You can read more about Beads of Wisdom 3.0 here and read some samples too.
They're free, from my heart to yours. Enjoy!
I've been goodly busy here just having hosted our largest family gathering yet for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful time of being with adult children and grandchildren we don't see quite often enough.
And now we are full blown into the holidays. I've made several vows to myself this year—ways to stay plugged-in to the Holy and unplugged from stress or overwhelm. Here are my top 10:
• I vow to stay present and mindful so I know what I need to feel well and happy.
• I vow to eat mindfully and healthfully.
• I vow to engage in sacred rest when I need it.
• I vow to spend some time each morning with my candle lit and my heart attuned to the One.
• I vow to be gentle and compassionate with myself because this IS potentially a stressful time of year.
• I vow to set healthy limits and boundaries so I do not fall prey to overwhelm, "shoulds," or pressure from others.
• I vow to savor the season with music, lights, laughter and "presence."
• I vow to keep things simple and stay attuned to the true meaning of this "Season of Light."
• I vow to hold a compassionate stance and keep my heart open to everyone—no matter what.
• I vow to give thanks daily for the many blessings I have been given, and offer advance praise for all those yet to come.
Well, these are just a few of my kind promises. I could sit here a bit longer and, likely, come up with a whole lot more but, after all, 'tis the season, and there is much to make jolly. There are surfaces to decorate and cookies to bake.
May I--may we all—do so mindfully, kindly and self-compassionately all throughout this beautiful month of remembering, waiting for, and welcoming in the Light.
What kind promises can you make to yourself to ensure that your love and Light shine during the holidays?
(Photo credits: Top image
One of the things you might not know about me is that I love photography. I am not a skilled photographer nor do I have any formal training.
But I feel inclined to take pictures, especially when I walkabout my beautiful town, or am anyplace in nature, as a form of spiritual practice. It is for me a way of seeing clearly, looking deeply, at what is here, right here, in front of me. This is also a form of mindfulness and one that keeps me rooted in the present moment, with gratitude for what is.
I've wanted to host a photo blog for quite some time now. To keep it simple by posting a photo that came through my heart and offer just a few words about it. Words that might take you deeper into your own experience of noticing the sacred in everything, yes, everything.
So, today, I rededicate this blog to viewing and embracing the world with sacred vision.
May we all ...
As I stroll the side streets and alleyways of my home town in northern Michigan, I challenge myself to focus on beauty; to finding at least one unique expression of it, logging it in as a forever memory with my camera. Yesterday, I spotted this lovely peace pole in someone's front yard.
Now there are plenty of such poles in my town for we are lovers of peace here on the Bay. In fact, a number of years ago our city was the first in the U.S. to file an official protest against the war in Iraq. We are peace makers, peace purveyors here ...
What touched me the most about this particular pole was the way the homeowner tended it—so lovingly, so consciously, framing it with respect in a bouquet of beauty. I felt more peaceful just looking at it. And seeing it invited me to ask of myself, 'What are you doing today to be a polestar for peace?'
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we are meant to live.
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Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.