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By Judy Atkinson

Commitment is like bacon and eggs: The chicken is involved, the pig is really committed!

“Are you in like the pig, or like the chicken?”

The sad fact is that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about our lives, the state of the world, the environment, violence, morality, money, health, relationships, etc. I suggest that it is important to find ways to refocus on what is working in the world and in our lives, instead of what is not, and to take time to rest our minds as we rest our bodies.

The problem most of us have is not only finding ways to be calm and worry free, but also making a commitment to that practice and sticking to it!

The first step we need to take is to realize that this is important! If we don’t really see the benefits of something, we really won’t stick with a commitment. We will do it for a while and slowly the old patterns will slip back into place. There is a catch 22 here though. You can’t really get the benefits until you have practiced it for a while, and you won’t stick to a practice unless you see the benefits. This is where you need to trust yourself. You know that it is important; you just don’t see or feel it yet.

The second step is to find effective methods to be calm and worry free.

Personally, I have discovered that there are several ways to calm my mind, stop worrying and find that stillness and peace. The first and most important is daily meditation. I started with 5 minutes, and now take just 20 minutes every day to be still. After some time and much experimentation with different meditation techniques I have found ways that work for me. I have recently made a meditation CD so that I can share these processes with others.

The second most important method for me is to take time daily to walk in nature. It is important that I walk, not run. Exercise for the purpose of fitness is quite a different intention than walking for peace and spiritual connection.

I also listen to soft music in the morning and at night, rather than listening to the TV, news or fast, loud music. I also light candles around the house at night, as the light naturally goes down outside, and again in the morning. I don’t turn on bright lights, I listen to soft music, meditate, stop for sunsets, and sunrises, stop to notice the signs of changing seasons, light a candle in the morning and at night, plan get-aways for rest and peace, not for excitement and challenge. Another piece I have discovered is the importance of planning vacations for peace, not stress. So many of us bank our stress for holidays, thinking that we will have a chance to relax then, when usually the opposite happens. If you save all your need for rest and relaxation for your two week vacation guess what usually happens, you are stressed out because it is not as peaceful as you imagined. Stuff comes up, as it always does on vacation-missed buses, waiting in airports, sick kids, bad weather, etc.

As we approach the summer season in Canada, and many of us plan our annual family vacations, be aware of this pitfall. Find time every day for a little bit of peace, that way you won’t put so much pressure on this vacation time to be everything for you.

Walk, don’t run in nature. Look around you and really notice the natural beauty in all seasons. Really listen to the sounds of nature. Stop at some point and just rest there. Be still. We are always in motion in our world, going places, accomplishing things. When we sit still somehow we feel guilty or lazy and have to watch TV to be occupied. Just learn to sit still! Einstein sat still for hours in his lawn chair in his back yard, just listening to nature, and amazing insights came to him. His neighbours thought he was unbalanced!

So many of us think that ‘working out’ time is our peaceful time. Be careful about this. It may be for some, but it is not for most. Going for a workout, a run, a bike ride, if it is really for the purpose of fitness, is not going to provide nearly the same benefits to your need for peace and worry free time as just being still, listening deeply to silence, to beautiful music, to sounds of nature. That is peace.

The third step, after you have realized the importance of doing this for yourself and have found ways that work for you, is to stick to it. Commit to your own peace of mind, to your own well being. Are you in like the pig or the chicken? Book times into your calendar. They are as important to your life success as work, exercise and good relationships. I make a commitment to a morning meditation time, just 20 minutes, but it makes an amazing difference to the way the rest of my day goes. Then I commit to walk in nature every day and notice the natural world around me. I usually drive to a park area close to home so that I don’t have to spend half my time walking on city streets to get to nature. Then I make a mental note to stop throughout the day when I notice the enchantment of our world, and really notice it. Children laughing, dogs playing, the sky, the snow, the rain… I stop for sunsets, rainbows, laughing children and new crocuses. I wait for elderly people.

To help you get started, I suggest you take one week to kick start what might become a lifetime habit. I suggest that you commit to three basic practices:

  1. A daily time of stillness.
  2. A daily intention to notice the beauty around you.
  3. A daily walk in nature.

One week doesn’t seem like that long, but you are adding three new activities to your daily life, and it takes focus and attention to do this well. I would ideally suggest three weeks, but that is too onerous for most to even think about, let alone actually do.

This has been my experience. It wasn’t until I started to see the difference that committing to finding worry free time made in my life, that I really made it a priority. Now I miss it if I haven’t had enough of those moments in a day.

Judy Atkinson is the owner and founder of Circles of Rhythm, a new experiential learning organization which uses the drum circle as its basic learning format. Judy can be reached in Calgary, AB at 403-253-2023, or Make joyful noise!

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