Updated: Sep 15, 2020
The world is on fire – literally and figuratively. It feels that way sometimes, especially with the tragic stories and apocalyptic pictures of the blazes consuming lives, homes and forests in the west. Adding to it are the other - just as combustible - fires of social injustice, political unrest and a pandemic still raging without end.
These dire external events can also light fires in our hearts and minds. Agitation, fear, rage and a sense of hopelessness can create a racing mind that jumps from one mental conflagration to another.
While spinning out of control, the raging mind can consume any sense of connection, empathy or hope for a better time. Our fight-or-flight impulse gets triggered - defenses are raised, others become the enemy, stress damages our health and our power feels lost to affect the outcome.
Just as water - applied in volume and with strategy over time - can help to bring wildfires under control, there are proven tools that can soothe an agitated mind and heart to calmness. And from that more open and centered place, peace and clarity can arise and better decisions can be made.
These centering techniques also help to mitigate the chronic health impacts of stress and to build the strength of the relaxation response. That means feeling more calmness, more often.
While your wildfire mind will likely resist at first, you have the power to shift your attention away from your thoughts and into something more positive.
Guided meditation is an easy option that enables the seemingly impossible act of quieting an active mind. By listening to soothing words which guide your focus to the breath, you can surrender the need to fix it yourself. This allows you to tap into the calm that is always present inside when you get beyond the level of thought. You can then access something higher, your heart.
This practice does not need to be reserved for quiet times on the mat, cushion or prayer bench. A regular routine in those places can help provide long term benefits to the immune system and your overall sense of well-being. But the true benefits come from bringing these skills out into the world during stressful situations.
When confronted with a wildfire amid everyday life, take a moment to focus on the three parts of your breath – slowly filling the belly, the side ribs and the upper chest and then slowly releasing each chamber. Just a few moments can bring a lasting calmness – whether you are in the midst of a conflagration at home, work or some other venue.
It’s a practice that gives immediate pay-off as well as long term benefits. In chaotic times, these are the things that see us through to better days with our hearts strong and clear.
Try our new Calming Meditation and begin containing the destructive force of a brain on fire. It will help you and those you love.