Calmness has to be a state of mind. There are some places I can go and feel a sense of calmness. For example, sitting on the patio at my aunt’s house, driving down an old country road, or when my flight lands. Usually, there is a sigh of relief and a sense of calm during these moments. When I think about what makes me calm and how I can explain to you how to get to this place of calmness, it begins with the mind. Suppose I could make this a physical location in my mind. I imagine it to be a room where I can go, and inside this room is everything I need to achieve calmness. How can this place in my mind be created? So, I could go there each time I felt the storm rolling in and that calm feeling slipping away.
I am sure that if you think very hard, you can pinpoint the moment you realize you have achieved calmness. It is usually the quiet before the storm. The gray clouds of my thoughts come rolling in, or it’s at the end when I realize the storm wasn’t all that bad. However, finding that mental or physical sweet spot doesn’t always come so quickly, but it’s possible.
It wasn’t until I found myself alone in my apartment one day during a literal storm blowing through the city and rattling my nerves that something serious! I can withstand thunder but what triggers my anxiety is lightning. For all the logical reasons I have crafted in my mind, for one, electricity in the sky has to be dangerous, and for two, the odds of getting struck by lighting are too high for me to think all will be well. So, there I was, seated on my couch, sitting completely still. Panic, for me, outwardly looks like complete calmness. I usually sit very still, and all the while, I am barely hanging on inside.
This day called for a change. I could have sat on my couch completely frozen for the next hour or two, or I could genuinely get myself to calm. I stood up and walked over to where I could see out the window, still a safe distance back, not trying to leap into any new comfort zones but standing close enough to get my heart pumping. Each time lightning lit up the sky, I took a deep breath and released it slowly; I spent the next five minutes timing my breathing until finally, I was seated on the couch, timing my breathing with every flash of light.
That day I realized I could breathe. Taking a breath doesn’t always bring me to a complete state of calm, But it helps me to realize that I am stepping outside of that place in my mind. I am leaving the place where I have everything I need to center myself and return to calmness. There are days when I am merely holding my breath; I cannot find the even tempo of my breathing. Sometimes I have to visualize myself as calm. Other times I identify things I can hear, see, and smell. I close my eyes, take a breath, and suddenly a wave of calmness comes over me, my breathing slows to an even tempo, and I am calm.