Choose Your Own Path to Serenity
By Mike Martin
Serenity is the calm within the storm. The feeling of being just okay as all the world is erupting in chaos. It is not a numbness of feeling but rather a gentle comfort. It’s knowing that somehow, someway, you can find your way through a situation that is difficult or one that causes fear or profound anxiety.
This usually involves a connection with something outside of yourself and re-connects you with your core or your spirit. It can be religious or ritualistic, tangible or tantric, but it must feel as real as the fear that grips you and holds your heart still. If you have found your path to serenity then nourish it like a flower and watch it bloom and grow.
If not, then here are a few suggestions that might work for you. None of these ideas are new or original. Peace and serenity are universal. Find one or more that might work for you and include practicing it every day just like your coffee in the morning.
We live in a world of constant chaos and commotion. Almost nothing around us is natural. It is no wonder that so many of us are in inner turmoil as the natural world around us suffers so much. To reclaim our inner peace and serenity we have to find a way to reconnect with nature and the natural forces that hold the key to our individual and collective survival.
In every town and city there are parks and trails and naturally preserved areas. Walk to the one nearest you. Stroll through the plants and trees and just listen to the chattering squirrels and the mad-cap birds. Smell the green that’s in the air. Rest for a moment on the grass with your back against the sturdy arms of an old tree. Close your eyes and see the beauty that is inside you. Open them to see it all around you. Take one last deep breath and let it flow down to your toes and back up into your addled brain.
Meditation has been called many things but I am most comfortable in thinking about meditation as relaxation for the brain. While I am not an expert and an irregular practitioner in the art of meditation I do like the conscious act of not thinking.
Find a quiet place and close your eyes. Relax all of your muscles and begin to breathe slowly, focusing all of your energy on the air that is flowing in and out of your body. Then you can begin to start your meditation, pushing out all thoughts until your mind feels free.
Now the hard part. As your body grows quiet and your mind grows still watch as the thoughts start trickling in. Notice them but let them pass, like leaves floating the river. After about five minutes you will notice that the thoughts become fewer and fewer. Finally you feel that moment of release when your mind is completely clear. You feel calm and serene.
Many of us find peace, comfort and serenity in music. The style of music that you choose to use is completely up to you. As long as it quiets your mind and takes you away from the hustle and bustle of your life it can help you achieve at least a degree of serenity in the midst of the chaos.
Sometimes a favorite piece of music will remind you of a pleasant memory from your past and it may make you laugh or even cry. Remember that your feelings are always good, even when they hurt. They are a connection to that special place inside our minds, messages from inside our consciousness, like an e-mail from our heart.
Religious people understand the power of prayer to heal and give comfort even in the moments of great tragedy and despair. Sometimes it is all they have to offer another person in turmoil or grief. There is a gentle release of fears and anxiety when you pray and some of the time your prayers are even answered.
Even non-religious people can learn to use prayer to help them achieve serenity by connecting first with their innermost feelings, and then with other people. One example of this type of prayer was in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa in the days following September 11, 2001. 100,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill at lunch time to listen to a few short messages of condolence from politicians and then without any formal prayers from any religious leader, they stood quietly and silently prayed.
I know because I was there. I don’t know what the others prayed for, to, or about, but I prayed for whatever goodness there was in the world to bring comfort to the victims and their families, and peace to the world.
Anyone who was there on that day felt the connection, to themselves and others. It was quiet, and comfortable, and serene.
One of the best forms of exercise known to humans is walking. Walking burns fat and build muscles to speed up your metabolism. Walking an hour a day is also associated with cutting your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke. But walking is not only good for the body but good for the spirit as well.
Walking is cheap, efficient, and as a side benefit it clears your head. Get a comfortable pair of shoes and start with a brisk fifteen-minute walk at lunchtime. Try not to think about anything in particular and notice what you see or hear. In times of extreme stress or anxiety, nothing beats going for a walk. Walking might be your first steps towards a lifetime of serenity.
Being alone is a frightening thought for many of us. All of our lives we have been with other people. As children we live with our families and as teenagers we gather in groups and share classrooms and dormitories. As adults we are part of companies and organizations and create our own network of family and friends so that we are almost never really alone.
We have a very real, physical need of the company of others in our lives. This companionship is crucial to our sense of belonging in the world. We grow in our relationships with other people by watching them succeed and fail, survive or fall. We listen and learn and confide our secrets to them. It keeps us sane and balanced.
But just as important to our sanity and fundamental to our serenity is the time that we spend alone. We may not have much of it in our lives, especially with our other commitments, but we need to take advantage of those opportunities to practice solitude, the act of being alone and comfortable with ourselves.
Solitude is a way to reclaim the essential “you”, the spirit that lives inside your stretched skin. It is a time to know yourself, to evaluate your progress in life, to regenerate your batteries for the next Mount Everest that you hope to climb.
Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of “Change the Things You Can” (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: