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The Calm in the Storm

Sometimes, life in the 21st Century can be mightily chaotic, sweeping one up in a whirlwind of things that need to be done, places to go, people to see (I call this the *to do tornado*) and it’s not terribly feasible (for many) to avoid this raging storm because, unfortunately, it’s just everyday life in our current society. From time to time I’m sure many weigh up the prospect of *escape* as a tempting idea, but personally, I don’t think it’s the answer as one doesn’t want to live life on the run….so what can one do?

My personal belief is that in every chaotic moment there is a place of calm “the eye of the storm”, so to speak, where all is quiet and peaceful despite the perceived storm raging around. One’s logic mind says *there’s no way you’re going to find calm in all this mess* and seemingly provides ample evidence of one’s emotions being so firmly triggered by the storm that the impossibility of it seems concrete, but in reality it’s really quite simple….breathing!



Even as a relatively novice student of meditation, I’ve experienced focussing on breathing to be an extremely effective way to reach a state of calm. Each time my meditation teacher says *breath deeply into your stomach and as you breath out…just let go* I have felt the positive effects almost immediately.

I remember my mother saying to me once during a long ago panic attack “breathe deep anna….it’s the only thing you can control in your Autonomic Nervous System” (ANS) and she’s right.

I suppose in considering how this all works it helps to have even an arbitrary understanding of what the ANS actually does. I’m no expert of course, but I understand it to be the control centre for one’s internal environment (heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, salivation, perspiration, pupillary dilation, urination, arousal, breathing and swallowing) e.g. all the stuff below the level of one’s conscious mind.

“The ANS is likened to a team of horses, it will follow the leader. The breath is the only part of the ANS that is consciously controllable so we put the breath as lead horse and the rest of the team will follow.” from

It makes sense then that the manner in which you breathe about a gazillion times per day will have an affect on all of these functions and how well (or not as the case may be) that they work. For me this is ample evidence that the key to finding that place of calm is breathing and, in theory, one can do this no matter where one is.

Clearly, reaching this oasis of calm takes some practice, particularly when you’re trying to find it when all around is chaotic and noisy. We’ve currently got builders in, working on an awesome reno which also comes with a fair amount of building chaos, people stomping about and noise. In amongst all of this and the day to day stuff of life I’ve put my belief in focussing on my breathing to the test and have found that it works…even amidst pneumatic drilling, sawing and banging!

Sometimes the simplest solutions have the biggest impact!

Anna xx