I couldn’t be more thrilled. The marvelous Lisa of Being Breath is with us today. If you have been following Bliss Habits for any length of time then you have certainly been introduced to the wonder and grace that is Lisa Wilson. Lisa has been a guest of Bliss Habits several times over and every time it is a complete treat. I’m sure you will agree, today is no different!
As I write this, the kids are playing outside with the neighbor kids.…who brought their dog – a BIG dog. The kids are all screaming while the dog barks. The garbage truck just rumbled down past our driveway. Somewhere in the close distance, a lawn mower or weed whacker adds a high-pitched whine. And downstairs, the fans hum on as they dry our flooded basement carpet. My thoughts scream nosily in my head to pay attention to my writing, the kids, the carpet, the dog, and the ache in my lower back.
Not the most picturesque scene of serenity.
And yet, ….
Serenity, like most other states of being, is a choice. Mind you, I didn’t say it begins as an easy choice, but it is a choice none-the-less.
When we think of a concept like “serenity”, we don’t usually think of these mundane moments. Serenity is what happens on a beach as the evening breeze encroaches, or in bubbles as we sink into an inviting, warm bath, or in those first few moments when we collapse after a long day into our soft, warm bed.
But why do we confine our feelings of serenity and peacefulness to certain experiences?
While retreats and vacations are wonderful and sometimes essential to our sanity, I am more interested in maintaining serenity in THIS. (“Serenity Now!”) I don’t have much time to retreat. I need to learn how to bring serenity into my life while the dog barks and the kids scream.
As part of my practice, perhaps one of the most important things I’ve learned is this:
Whatever is happening right now, you have a choice of how you experience it.
So how do you choose serenity when your environment doesn’t seem to lend itself to such peacefulness?
Here are some choices you can make (today) to increase your chances of tapping into the serene:
Breathe. ( Take note of this week’s Bliss Initiative! ) This is my go-to practice. The breath is always with you. It has been proven that conscious breathing can help lower blood pressure and reduce tension. When you find stress creeping up, switch your attention to this inhale. This exhale. This inhale. Repeat.
Drop Into Your Body. Like the breath, your body is always with you. When we feel “un-serene”, the body is usually in a state of tension. Bring your awareness into your body and notice where you are gripping (Clenched jaw? Gripped hands? Shoulders raised towards your ears?). Don’t berate yourself, just release what is no longer needed. Feel the experience of being in your body, in a body that is relaxed as you can make it before returning to the situation you were in. (Note: This can all be done within a few seconds.)
Expand Your Awareness. Don’t let this one throw you – it is actually a very easy and practical way to tap into serenity. Often we get caught up in our stories of what is happening instead of what is actually happening. If you are in the middle of a stressful situation, allow yourself to start expanding your gaze and attention. Notice your peripheral vision. Sense the world the exists directly behind the back of your head, and underneath your feet. Put your story into the much broader perspective.
Retreat. Sometimes this might just be the best choice. Find the type of retreat that is appropriate for the experience you are having. Take a short walk outside (preferably in a natural environment), do a few stretches down the hall, retreat to the bathroom and hide out for a few minutes, or climb into a slide at the playground and just curl in. Use the techniques above to find as much serenity as possible and, if nothing else, remind yourself that this too shall pass. Sometimes in the midst of a deeply stressful situation, serenity is relative: Even a slight release can feel deeply peaceful.
Whatever is going on in your life, you are alive to experience it. How fortunate! When the going gets tough….and it will…allow this to be your practice. One situation after the next, practice choosing inner serenity – and take note of how the world responds.
Lisa Renee Wilson is an Awareness Artist. She connects, works, and plays with those who desire to integrate the everyday and the something more. Through mindful and creative play with life as it is, she reminds us all that THIS moment matters. Learn more at BeingBreath.com.