“A calm mind releases the most precious capacity a human being can have: the capacity to turn anger into compassion, fear into fearlessness, and hatred into love.” - Eknath Easwaran
Nothing in this world exists in isolation, no person as a part of a group or society, nor any part of ourselves as a whole being, and this particularly applies to our mind, emotions and body. When one of these is off, the other two soon follow.
Fear leads to worrying thoughts which lead to increased blood pressure. A restless body leads to agitated thoughts which lead to feelings of stress or anxiety. When a sad memory creates sad feelings they lead to a tired and drained body.
These three parts of ourselves should be working positively, and in harmony, but they rarely do. Body, heart and mind.
All we need is to get any two of these parts of ourselves under control and the third part will surely follow.
- For a calm body, stop your thoughts and feel the meaning of things around you.
- For a calm mind, stop your body moving and feel yourself present to where you are.
- For a calm heart, relax your body and fill your mind with peaceful ideas.
Read on to discover some of the many ways to the above, proven to help bring either the mind, heart or body into a natural calm state, in harmony with life and self.
Start where you find yourself to be
Just acknowledge what is happening to you right now. Is your mind rested, racing, reacting? Do you feel content, concerned, cornered? How is your body? Tired, twitchy, or toxified? Whatever is going on, just acknowledge it. Like you’ve just woken up to a scene, you are the lead actor, and you magically know everything that the actor is going through. This time though, you can direct as well as act.
Once you realise what is happening to you, to your three parts, as a whole, you can choose to change them, and you.
We hold the reins to all that we are, and it is only us who can steer ourselves in the right direction. And sometimes if we’re heading toward a cliff edge or wall, we may need to stop it completely.
Here is a list of some techniques that you can use to help take control of your heart, mind and body. Each method works on one, two or all parts.
1. Put your mind on your breath
However you are feeling, give no attention to it. This method is about bringing mind and body together. Focus your mind on any part of your body where you can feel the sensation of breathing - your chest, nostril, stomach. Observe how your body breathes, with no thoughts, no judgment, no questions. Just watch yourself breathe. When the mind and body are aligned, the heart soon falls in line and a sense of calm contentment arises. If you find your thoughts wandering, gently, repeatedly, bring them back to the breathing. Do this for as long as you wish, or have time for.
2. Relax your body
This is about creating a “stop” for your body. A rested body, and a mind focused on rest, will calm the heart. Find a quiet place to lay down or sit back, and, in your mind, tell all parts of your body to stop. Inform the body that you are going to stop all movement, and just be for however long you wish. If a part of your body starts to move or tries to scratch an itch that is bound to come, just say no and stop the movement. It may feel like a fight at first, but soon your body will know who is in charge. When the body stops, the mind can let go, and the heart will calm into the same state.
3. Challenge and stop your thoughts
Something happens not exactly according to our plan or how we imagined it. We then start overthinking and create scenarios in our head of what could happen or what others may say as a result of it. Don’t believe everything you think and challenge your scenarios. Ask how likely it is to happen? Maybe it is time to take things easy, ‘step back’ and imagine what you would tell your friend if the same happens to them. Just how many times something ‘bad’ happened in the past thinking what a disaster or feeling stressed and worried? Now we may even laugh when we remember it. This time, start telling yourself that you can handle it and you will.
4. Soothe your senses with aromatherapy
Another way of calming oneself is to put attention on something stronger than what is taking our attention currently. If you suffer from a constantly sore back, and suddenly you step on an upturned plug with your bare feet, you'd soon forget about your back for a while. However, you don’t need to have strong negative experiences to forget other negative feelings. Instead, introduce strong positive impressions into your moments. When you infuse your room full with a positive stimulating scent, and our mind is stimulated too. The same way as the smell of cut grass triggers memories of childhood summers. Fill your attention with something simple, natural, and forget the smaller things that used to bother you.
Popular essential oils are Roman chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, lemon, ginger, cedarwood, and bergamot.
5. Massage your body
The action of firm strokes on the muscles and skin draws the attention of the mind to where the action is. Your body alerts the mind to sensations. When the sensations are deep, strong and soothing, you will notice that the mind will very quickly follow. It focuses on what is happening, instead of a million other things. The brain receives signals from our skin’s sensory receptors through the stroking and stretching of the skin and the pressure we apply. As a result, we feel pleasure and calm.
Once your body is relieved and de-stressed, the mind calms down and the emotions very quickly follow.
If you can’t find someone to massage you, treat yourself to a therapeutic self-massage at home. Focus on the sensation and let the world go. Scrubs, creams and dry body brushing are some great ways of bringing mind and body together.
6. Create a calm mind with white noise, ASMR or a sound bath
Go online, search for white noise audio or ASMR videos. Find a comfortable place, close your eyes, put headphones on and listen. If you wish to avoid technology, create a sound bath for yourself. Tibetan singing bowls are well known and popular sound meditation tools.
Sound meditation can induce deep relaxation and positively affect mood and sense of wellbeing. Like aromatherapy, these sounds fill your mind with attention. What your body hears, the mind follows. And when the sounds are a soothing relief from the usual din that surrounds us, we naturally fall into that gentle place. Calm sounds, calm body, calm mind, and gradually a calm heart always follows.
7. Practise Shinrin-Yoku and forest bathe
Forest bathing, or Shinrin-Yoku, is a mindfulness practice of allowing all of your attention to be captured by the majestic harmonies found in natural woodland. Simply set time aside for you and the forest, and enter it. Follow and focus on whatever captures your attention, let whatever arises arise and fall like footsteps. Watch every step you make. Try to break nothing with any footstep. Just be with the trees and the wind and let nature consume your attention. This mind and body ritual soaks you in natural attention, unwavered by the demands of normal life. A bad mood cannot survive a walk in the woods.
8. Soothe the body with a hot bath, steam or sauna
We all know the relaxing and soothing feeling of a simple hot bath, scented with a few drops of essential oils or bathing salts. So if your day feels harder and your mind is still racing, it’s time to get the hot water running and immerse yourself into the relaxing and calming bath. Read our recent article describing the Japanese wellbeing tradition of meditative hot bathing, Ofuro.
9. Bring a tired body alive with dry body brushing
This may sound unusual, but dry body brushing offers many wellbeing benefits, and one of them is the therapeutic and invigorating feeling just like a spa can offer. Dry body brushing quietens your mind, gives you a natural energy boost, soothes sore muscles. This simple skin massage method is stimulating, energising and soothing, leaving you feeling refreshed and calm, ready to face the day.