It’s easy to calm down quickly. No matter what is happening around us, we never have to become trapped in stress or anxiety. It’s important to learn how to calm down quickly this as negative emotions can easily become addictive. The longer we hold onto them, the harder it can be to let go. Zen offers many pathways to becoming free of negativity. This article is based upon Zen principles and value-centered counseling. It offers enjoyable and effective steps to calming down, feeling good about yourself and finding that peaceful place in the storm. Open The Treasure House Within In Zen students are told: “Open the treasure house within.” This is a reminder that we are all are endowed with many resources hidden within. In order to access our innate abilities, we must stop looking everywhere else and forget about depending upon others. Instead, we are told to spend time each day taking responsibility for what’s going on inside. We turn our attention within, discover who we truly are and stop rejecting ourselves and others. As we do this, we are beginning to open the treasure house within. Pay Attention We are what we think about. When we stay fixated on one person, thought or situation, it is easy to become caught in the grip of self centered, obsessive thoughts. The more we pay attention to that which is negative or upsetting, the more strength it has to rule our lives. This can be counteracted easily. Take control of your attention and what you’re focusing upon. Spend time each day developing concentration. This is also called meditation (or zazen). Sit with a straight back, do not move, follow your natural breath. Let random thoughts come and go. Do not suppress them, but do not let them grab your attention away. (At first you may be besieged by many surprising thoughts and feelings, but if you simply notice them and then return your attention to your breathing, these will soon die down). Count your breath from one to ten, then all over again. Do this for at least ten to fifteen minutes without moving. By not moving we are stopping what is called the monkey mind. Stop The Monkey Mind The monkey mind is the mind that jumps from one thing to the next, fears, demands, criticizes and sabotages our lives. It is the part of ourselves, which causes sorrow and fear. By taking charge of our focus, by not paying attention to or responding to the many negativities the monkey mind throws our way, we become balanced and calm. As we do this regularly, we are no longer carried away by passing feelings and thoughts. Instead, we discover a peaceful place in the storm to which we can always return for comfort and strength. Focus on Strengths not Weaknesses As we focus upon our strengths, not our weaknesses, little by little, fear, anger and depression fade. Rather than struggle with problems, we learn to become available to solutions. This is accomplished by working with focus. The question we always keep before us is: What am I focusing on this moment? Am I dwelling on problems or open to solutions and new ideas? Am I aware of where I am right at this moment, or lost somewhere in a dream? Am I grateful for what I have, or dwelling upon the wrongs I think others have done me? Life continually renews and confronts us with new tasks, challenges, opportunities and solutions, day after day. Are we in touch with this ever-flowing reality? Are we focusing on the gifts we are always receiving, and ways we can give back to others as well? By choosing to take charge of our focus we dissolve the primary cause of our suffering – a monkey mind that has run wild.
Once we take charge of our focus, we place it upon what we are receiving, what we have to be grateful for. Then it is easy to take the next step and naturally become aware of what others need from us, what we have to offer, how we can give back. Then we do it. We take action. We do not hesitate. We focus upon simple, daily actions, which are constructive for ourselves and others. We spend some time each day doing “deeds of service”, finding ways we can give to others, make their days easier and happier. As we focus upon giving and encouraging others, a strange thing happens – our personal anxiety vanishes, and we, ourselves, become filled with joy. Before long, we become filled with something even more important than joy – self respect. A primary source of stress and anxiety is low self esteem; feeling badly about ourselves. The most powerful way to get rid of this is to have a healthy dose of self respect. When we fill our lives with constructive actions, self worth develops naturally. It does not come about through artificially boosting self esteem, but as a result of living a life worthy of respect. In this manner we grow able to handle any situation life presents us with. When we are able to do that, not only do we calm down easily, but enjoy all aspects of our days. We feel like life is a gift we are receiving; and we become a gift to life as well.
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