Magpie Magazine, May 2017
With stress levels in Ireland soaring as many of us work long hours to achieve often unachievable personal goals, and celebrities such as GAA star Alan O’Meara, rugby analust Brent Pope, Spin 103,8 DJ Nikki Hayes and best selling author Marian Keynes suffering from depression, life coach Ewa Pietrzak tells Magpie how developing inner peace is the key to unlocking our worried minds and tired bodies.
The pursuit of peace of mind has been propelling humans to far-flung places of natural beauty for eons. London born Buddhist nun, Tenzin Palmo, retreated to a remote mountain cave in North India for three years, away from the interruption of civilization on her meditation practice. St. Patrick climbed to the isolated top of Croagh Patrick, 762 meters above Clew Bay.
Disappearing up the peaks of Mayo or the high Himalaya is not a mind stilling option for most of us on a daily basis. However, in our free time, it is definitely a good idea to head for the hills or sea.
Instead of spending lunch break in the office canteen why not take a walk to the nearest park, pond or canal. Even if it is only for fifteen minutes, being outdoors and observing wildlife coming and going about their daily business is calming and therapeutic.
Challenges can arise at any minute of any day, so it’s a good idea to have a coping strategy to hand, and a go-to place to still the mind.
Knowing how to ‘respond’ rather than ‘react’ to uncomfortable situations is an essential tool.
If we ‘react’, we allow the outside world to control our reality. This can cause us to lose balance and be sucked into a spiral of negativity.
When we ‘respond’ we work from within. We cannot control external circumstances but we can control our perception about what’s going on.
For example, I get an email from my sister in law to say that she and my brother cannot attend my Mum’s surprise birthday party next month, due to another commitment.
I could ‘react’ with a curt reply, expressing my disappointment and most likely ruling out any chance of having the whole family together for the event.
However if I maintain my inner calm, I can ‘respond’ later and talk to them about a date to suit everyone.
As everything has good and bad in it, we can choose which way we ‘perceive’ the situation in question.
I could perceive my sister in law to have no respect for my brother’s family and tell her as much in an email reply.
Or I could sympathise with the busy life they are leading and talk to them about how I would love to make this work so that the whole family can be together.
Which one do you think is going to get the better outcome? One is guaranteed to dig a hole of resentment and one will fly a flag of encouragement and inclusion.
Perception will either lead us forward to solutions and goals, or make us feel stuck, angry and frustrated.
In order to master perception we need to develop the ability to stand back and observe situations before jumping in with a quick reaction.
Removed, wild and windswept, mountain peaks are nature’s perception points, offering a birds eye view of everything around.
It’s unlikely you will have time to ascend a crag when a crisis arises, but by practicing meditation and understanding ‘perception’ it’s possible to still the mind and enjoy a happier more peaceful life.
EWA’S TIPS FOR A STILL MIND
- A calming daily exercise is, to light a candle and focus on the flame for a couple of minutes. At first your mind will wander but after a few days you will feel more relaxed and focused. This takes practice and discipline but even sixty seconds is enough to settle the mind and shake off worries and negative thoughts.
- Have a go-to peaceful place. It may be a park bench, a bridge, comfy chair or a tree to sit under but find yourself a spot around your home or office and return to that place when you need to still your mind.
- Practice yoga or go to meditation classes.
‘Meditate and Relax with Bob Proctor’ on Youtube