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“We don’t realize that somewhere within all of us, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace” – Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Over the past week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of being mentally calm. 

 

You know, a headspace or feeling where you’re not always encountering thoughts rushing in and out of your mind.
Or, I suppose if it’s in the case of meditation, you’re recognizing those thoughts, acknowledging them, and letting them go.
It’s the letting go part that I can’t seem to grasp.
Now, to be fair I’ve only tried meditation for a total of 20 minutes – on an app called Headspace.  I decided it would have to go on the llong-term goals list as it involved a lot of effort I wasn’t willing to commit to at the time I tried it.

Finding Mental Calm and Zen

I have to say that athletes seem to be the best example of this for me.  In particular, the mental strength combined with mental calm that my personal trainer has blows my mind.  I feel the same way about my swimming instructor.

Calm. Composed.  Driven.

Zen, for lack of a better word.  Basic definitions (like Wiki) tell us that Zen is a form of Buddhism that focuses on meditation and intuition.  What I mean when I use the word is calm, but composed.  Centered. Balanced, but driven.

Zen Habits

Well, I first heard of the book Zen Habits in the documentary The Minimalists. It’s been in my “to read” pile since then. Leo Barbauta is a “minimalist” with a family of several kids – six, I think! So, he talks about adapting minimalism to fit a family lifestyle.

Decluttering is part of the process, I know. I’m looking forward to reading the book and finding out the rest!

 

The Calm In Travel

Sometimes we may think of travelling as hectic, but at least in my experience travel can be calming.  For me, it’s soothing to hike through the mountains, breathing in fresh air, or get lost in a crowded market in a place that’s completely new to me.

So maybe it’s about finding what works for you.  Of course it’s almost impossible to travel all the time. So taking as many “mini-breaks” as I can to check out totally different places helps me balance out my hectic lifestyle.  Being able to access cheaper flights to amazing nearby destinations is part of the reason I live in Europe!

Ambition & Mental Calm: Oxymorons?

Shakespeare (in Hamlet) said, “Ambition is merely the shadow of a dream”.  This is one of my all-time favourite quotes in the world, and Hamlet is my favourite play.
Is “ambition” – whether it is derived from the quest for a dream or not – positive or negative?  Can we be both ambitious and mentally calm?
I’d love to hear what all of you have to say!
 Are they faking it?
A Saturday night dinner gathering of close friends drifted to this very topic –  maybe they’re faking it.  Perhaps those ambitious athletes aren’t so calm, after all. They’re just putting on a brave face.
I don’t think so.  Really – I’ve seen it in my personal trainers, and I’ve especially seen it in my swim instructor. (You can read about my swimming struggles here).  It’s like their head is totally clear.  They focus on their goals and achieve them, but without the frenzied rushing around to accomplish everything.
You can’t imagine the number of times my trainer has told me to be “tranquila” in the middle of an insanely intense workout circuit.  He means mentally.  Like stop beating yourself up mentally for not doing a rep or set as well as you thought you could, or for being tired that day.

How can we find more peace? 

You may have seen my post on having a quiet mind and the benefits it can give us.Motivational Monday 30 - Intuition Quiet Mind
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this!  In fact, it’s quite the opposite! I’m doing my best to take baby steps towards becoming calmer myself.
I’m not too sure that fits my personality that well – but then that’s the point. Is calmness a personality trait, or can everyone – as Gilbert claims – find that peaceful self within themselves? 
I realize this post is more questions than answers, so, here are a few ideas:

3 More Mental Calm Ideas

I thought I may as well share a few more ideas I came across in my reading this week. These aren’t tried, tested or necessarily true – but food for thought!
The three ideas in this section below are ones I got from Huffington Post’s article on 10 ways smart people stay calm.  I think they are definitely worth repeating though. If you have the time, check out the whole article for all 10 ideas.
Here are my favourites:
1. Gratitude

Motivational-Mondays-63-2 GratitudeIt’s always a good idea to be grateful for what we have, although accepting what we’re not able to change is more of a challenge that I can express.

 

 2. “Squash The Negative Self-Talk”

It seems that I’ve picked the ones I find most challenging as “my favourites”.  Sometimes, we have to silence that voice in the back of our head that is talking to us like we are the enemy. Oh, how I wish I could do that!

 3.  Disconnect.

Disconnecting is so important if we want to reach our goals.

Actually, I have to point out a small cultural difference here, as a Canadian living in Barcelona. I’m off to Canada for a few weeks near the end of June (for the first time in 4 years!).  Every time I’d go on holidays to other places while living in Canada, trainers would say “Remember to bring your protein powder, get in x number of workouts, etc, etc…”

Want to know what my trainer (the one that’s responsible for meal plans and measurements) said about my trip?

“Remember to disconnect from everything, enjoy life, go hiking”.

Don’t you love that?  Despite the intensity, they are giving me permission to relax, to be calm for a few weeks.  Will I listen? We’ll see 😉 I love the idea though – that enjoying the process, and enjoying life is as important as the goals.

 

What are your favourite ways to stay mentally calm? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Have a lovely and productive week!
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P.S.  Photography fiends, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) was one I took a couple weeks ago in Switzerland.


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