Finding Comfort Amidst Chaos
We live in a chaotic and fast-past world. There is a plethora of information and energy swirling in and around us as if we are often trapped inside a vortex. The nearly constant barrage of seemingly warp-drive news cycles and constant media may induce excess stimulation leading to anxiety and feelings of estrangement. Still, most of us have to stay connected in some capacity to work and function effectively in our modern culture. While we can’t completely escape the influx associated with the digital age, there are practices we can engage in to promote grounding and dispel negative energy:
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” This sentiment, arguably penned by one of the greatest authors of all time (anonymous), couldn’t be truer. Scientific research generated from renowned institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic have long heralded the power of the breath to change our physiology and even our mental state. arious types of breathing techniques depending on what you are experiencing at the moment. There is no one size fits all approach. For example, slowing the breath has an overall calming effect. However, when the exhale is somewhat longer than the inhale; the grounding effect is more profound than when of equal duration.
Mindful breathing techniques often referred to as pranayama in yoga, can be used prescriptively. f you are feeling anxious, or over-stimulated, energizing breathing techniques such as Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) Pranayama (breath of victory) or Kapalabhati Pranayama (skull shining breath), may not be what you need at that moment. Other mindful breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing (also known as belly breathing) or Brahmari Pranayama (also known as bee breath), are more suitable for calming.
To practice Brahmari Pranayama:
- Lengthen your spine in a comfortable seated position.
- Soften your shoulders and your face.
- Close your eyes and begin to breathe in and out your through your nose.
- Gently seal your lips.
- Inhale through your nose.
- Just as the name implies, you will begin to make a sound on your exhale.
- Make the sound by creating the “M” sound, on the exhale.
- Choose Your Company Wisely
We all have those people in our lives we enjoy or even love, but who sometimes the out of us with their drama or negative energy. They have other redeeming qualities mak us laugh, or shar a hobby. However, it might be wise to reconsider spending time with them during of stress. During the times we need grounding e may also want to refrain from being around those with and effervescent personalities even if their presence is often positive and they aren’t emotional vampires. We benefit from being around these people when we need to be energized, but when we are feeling amped up and our sympathetic nervous system is in fight or flight mode, to spend time with people who have a calming presence.
Consider spending time with an elder. Find someone who will hold space with you without looking at their phone, referring to social media, or trending YouTube videos. Merely being in the presence of someone living in a slower and more a simple manner, can have a grounding effect on us.
- Mindful Movement
Practice of yoga can help remove the physical manifestations of stress and excess energy. Consider using a mat made of natural fibersing A rubber mats acts as an insulator preventing us from connecting with the earth The earth has an average energetic frequency of about 7.8 Hz. The brain waves associated with relaxation and meditation the same frequency. Thus, when we connect with the earth, we can help balance our own energy to achieve a more calm and sustainable state. Try a Yogasana mat. hand-woven in India--the birthplace of yoga. No synthetic dyes or electrical power is used to craft them. A portion of the sales of each mat is donated to provide educational support to the children of the workers who make their mats.
“No one could understand the secret of this weaver who, coming into existence, spread the warp as the world; He fixed the earth and the sky as the pillars, and he used the sun and the moon as two shuttles; He took thousands of stars and perfected the cloth; but even today he weaves, and the end is difficult to fathom. Kabir says that the weaver, getting good or bad yarn and connecting karmas with it, weaves beautifully. ”
― Kabir, The Bijak of Kabir
Explore grounding postures such as Tadasana, Child’s Pose, and Savasana. Save energizing poses such as heart openers for other times when you are feeling lethargic, blue, or tired. Replace Sun Salutations with Moon Salutations. Moon Salutations are cooling and quieting--perfect for evening or anytime you need grounding and comfort. From an Ayurvedic perspective, Moon Salutations are more beneficial to perform during warmer weather. Referred to in Sanskrit as Chandra Namaskar, Moon Salutations can be practiced as full body ritual during full or new moons in order to evoke lunar energy that is known to soothe and promote introspection. Try diaphragmatic breathing while practicing your moon salutations and avoid Ujjayi Pranayama.
Pause and meditate. Mantras help us stay focused during meditation. Repeat a soothing mantra such as, “I cultivate my own peace,” or if you prefer Sanskrit (the classical language associated with yoga) try “om shanti,” meaning, “peace for all.” There are Kundalini mantras specifically intended to support the root chakra, associated with safety and security. Try “ong namo guru dev namo.” It is considered one of the most fundamental mantras and is referred to as the Adi Mantra. In Sanskrit, “Adi”, means “first.” It helps us connect to the divine or creative source. Connecting to a higher power can provide both feelings of comfort and surrender. Ong namo guru dev namo translates to, “I bow to divine wisdom. I bow to the divine teacher within.” Another option is to simply repeat and contemplate the words, “So hum.” Translated from Sanskrit, it means, “I am.” Its simple elegance serves as an important reminder that sometimes just "being," is all we need to be “doing.”
You can also enhance your meditation practice with the use of crystals. Black Obsidian, Hematite, and Black Tourmaline are all stones known for their grounding properties. Black Obsidian is a volcanic mineral with a smooth glassy finish. It’s known for its general healing properties and its ability to balance energies. Black Obsidian may be especially helpful to help release tension and provide support during times of transition. Hematite is the mineral form of iron oxide and often has reddish or orange hues. It strengthens the connection with earth, and it is also known to protect against negative energies. Black Tourmaline has a crystal-like appearance and is considered purifying. Crystals can be worn as jewelry, placed nearby during meditation, or put in a pocket to help protect against anxiety and those energy vampires that seek to seduce us.
- Mindful Meals
Eating, when done properly, is a calming and grounding act. Often, necessity forces us to eat Many of us . While completing my yoga teacher training, one of our homework assignments was to engage in “yoga meals.” We were instructed to stop and do nothing but attend to our food. When taking a yoga meal, there no talking, no mobile devices, no reading materials, or any other distractions. You pause and find gratitude for your meal no matter how humble it may be. Contemplate the source of your food. Sit while eating, and chew slowly. Swallow completely before taking another bite. You begin with about two handfuls of food and wait three to five minutes before taking more. Allow two to six hours between meals. Yoga meals have nothing to do with weight loss or dieting, but are exercised to help us be mindful of both WHAT and HOW we eat.
Nourish yourself with healthy, comfort foods that encourage you to eat and digest slowly. Consider including more complex carbohydrates in your meals. They help to provide a slow release of feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin. Further, they provide more nutrients than simple carbohydrates. Taking longer to digest, complex carbs, don’t cause the abrupt change in blood sugar that occurs when we digest simple carbs. Additionally, changes in blood sugar levels affect mood, so when we eat foods that help stabilize blood sugar levels, it helps us to feel more balanced and grounded. Lentils are a low glycemic food and provide complex carbohydrates. They will provide you with a steady supply of energy. Lentils are also inexpensive, rich in fiber, and help us feel more satiated.
At the end of the day, we cannot control the chaos frenetic pace of modern life, nor can we hide from all the brokenness brokenness in the world. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions . t is possible to improve our lives and our world, as we strive to counteract negative energy. Jack Kornfield, author, meditation teacher and Buddhist practitioner, shared in one of his “Heart Wisdom” podcasts: “It’s not your job to fix the world, but to add your to it. So, what are you going to add?”