My 5 Go-To Practices for Inner Peace & Clarity from Cuckoo |
In this week’s #mantramonday, I asserted that “Drama is so overrated.” You can catch up on the absurdity and "A-HA!" by clicking here.
Many of you agreed, which must mean that on some level, calm, quiet, and peace of mind are super fuckin’ underrated. Yet so many of us crave that melodic swirling of gentle, inner chill-the-fuck-out-ness.
But we all know breathing easy isn’t some gift that is bestowed upon us. There's no Groupon code for inner peace; it's a practiced way of being. Chill vibes are something we cultivate, or don’t, but it always starts in the way that we live day-to-day.
So today I wanted to reveal my TOP 5 go-to practices for keeping my head clear, my heart light, and unnecessary drama at bay. Read on to gain some insight on keeping your cool in a crazy world.
1) Once a day, hit pen to paper.
Most of us have this dull idea that journaling is a form of record-keeping, as if you were some secretary taking the minutes of your own life.
Today I woke up at 7:30 and ate a banana. Then I took a shower and put on my new red wrap-dress from DVF. I was almost late to work but traffic wasn’t too bad. Maribel asked if I wanted to grab a Starbucks with her, so I said yes. I got a Caramel Macchiato with an extra shot…
If you’re new to journaling, or uncomfortable with stream-of-consciousness style writing, this might be exactly what your entries look like. That’s totally fine.
But the kind of journaling I’m talking about isn't nearly as polite, thoughtful, or sensical as the entry above.
I’m so fucking confused about everything right now I don’t even know what to say or think. I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m headed and everyone around me does. Maribel just got engaged for Christ’s sake - can you believe that? To her stupid cheating boyfriend and I don’t want to judge but I am judging and I feel bad for judging but I can’t help it. Do I need to do laundry tonight? Ugh I’m going to have no clean underwear tomorrow fuuuuck…
Journaling, the way I like to do it, is a mental and emotional dumping ground.
The page is a dear, dear friend who will let me vent my fucking face off and never try to fix or problem-solve and tell me what I “should” do.
When you make a daily effort to write your messy, flawed, confused, honest heart out, three big and beautiful things are getting accomplished: you are checking in with you (Vital! Often overlooked!), you are letting yourself feel what you’re actually feeling (No censoring! Yay!), and you are getting it out of your head (Oh thank goodness our heads were gonna explode!).
Word-vomit journaling gives our thoughts and feelings some space to breathe.
We might not even know what we're thinking and feeling because we’re not actually letting ourselves think or feel it. This is what pen-to-paper is for.
Because when painful, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings go unnoticed, unprocessed, or ignored, they often get angrier, louder, and eventually explode like a carbonated beverage that’s been jostling around in our purses all afternoon.
So don’t wait for the metaphorical can of Coke-feelings to explode. Crack that puppy open and pour it in a tall, chilled glass in the form of an AM or PM 3-page journaling practice.
You can learn more about my specific style of journaling (called “Morning Pages”) via Julia Cameron, a badass revolutionary for creativity, inner peace, and possibility who also looks like she could be the fourth witch from “Hocus Pocus”.
2) Let's fucking meditate, you guys.
No one, and I mean no one, I have ever talked to has regretted beginning a meditation practice. EVERRRRRRRR. IN THE HISTORY OF MY LIFE ON THIS PLANET WE CALL EARTH.
Tequila shots? Oh sure, mad regrets there. Over-spending at Sephora? Yikes! Regrets galore! Sleeping with an ex who continues to do nothing but disappoint us? Woops, yeah, ya better believe that situation is super-charged with regret…
And yet these are the things we say, “Yes,” to. We say yes without even blinking. These things are habitual, no-brainer activities that are widely accepted and culturally “okay”, despite the miserable hangovers, intense shoppers’ remorse, and side effects of self-loathing and misery.
Isn’t that fucking fascinating? That we will create time and space for things that do nothing for us, or actually harm us, but we won’t set aside 10 minutes a day to radically shift how we think about and view the world and ourselves, entirely for the better.
I am so flipping fascinated by that.
I’m not even going to go into the countless ways in which meditation has been shown to change everything for the better, because if that was enough of an incentive we would all be doing it on the daily and they would be teaching Meditation 101 in schools instead of wasting time on Advanced Organic Chemistry (I was always a biased English-History person, honestly).
So I’ll leave you with one of my favorite online resources for beginning a meditation practice. BOOM. ZEN HABITS. Insanely simple. Try it for two weeks. Let me know what happens.
3) Sweat, baby, sweat.
THIS IS ANOTHER ONE! We avoid exercising even though we know there are virtually no negatives. NO NEGATIVES!
Because if you make a consistent effort to exercise for twenty minutes a day (exercise being anything that makes you sweat), you will notice incredible all-around LIFE benefits.
Picture it: reduced levels of anxiety, better brain function, an easier time making decisions and learning, boosted memory, increase in energy, enhanced productivity, expanded creativity and overall inspiration, improved self-esteem, and in many studies exercise has been shown to treat depression just as effectively as prescription antidepressants. (Yo thanks Huff Po.)
NONE OF THIS IS NEW NEWS. WHY AREN’T WE ALL IN LOVE WITH EXERCISING.
Oh, right, because the couch is calling and we’re too tired and too busy and we don’t like exercise and we just haven’t found something that is fun for us and blah blah blaaah. I get it. I use those excuses too.
But I’m really sick of excuses. Because are we "too busy" to feel shitty/stressed/overwhelmed? How about "too tired"? Is indulging in a lot of that a whole lot of "fun for us"?? No, we seem to always have time and energy for prioritizing misery.
So let’s flip the script and convert that shit to prioritizing something that will make us feel great on so many different levels.
And if you need any further encouragement, in the famed words of Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
4) No phone before coffee.
Some time ago I noticed I had this terrible habit of waking up and immediately reaching for my phones so I could begin scrolling through various mind-numbing feeds, updates, inboxes, and search fields. This is a habit for many of us. Our phones are like an extra limb.
So from the second we open our eyes, we have opted to checked out of ourselves and check into a lot of noisy nonsense that doesn’t actually have anything to do with us or our direct life experience.
I want to strongly encourage you to create a few boundaries for mindless phone intake. I have chosen to keep my phone on the other side of my bedroom, or in another room entirely while I'm sleeping. This isn't rocket science, but it's effective.
What happens as a result is I am forced to be alone with my own thoughts. I am forced to tune into my own feelings and bodily sensations. If you choose to participate in a no-phone AM ritual, you too will have no choice but to notice how uncomfortable you are without distraction from self. This is a great thing.
Because part of cultivating a sense of calm and inner peace is the ability to simply be with yourself. Be in your body, be with your thoughts, be in this room, in this moment, noticing your life as it’s actually happening. There are things we don’t want to think about or deal with but learning to be with those things, acknowledging them, not needing to change or fix or escape or resist - that is a life-altering form of peace. That is calm. That is a beautiful intention to set at the start of every day.
My life and my work are on my phone, so this is something I continue to struggle with. I practice, “No phone before coffee,” because it’s easy and doesn’t feel impossible or depriving. And I’m often surprised by how much I don’t miss Facebook or Twitter or Buzzfeed when it’s not there...
5) Ask: “Will this infuse my life with more ease, or more difficulty?”
A while back I remember struggling with a “should-I-shouldn’t-I” decision regarding a hot coworker. We liked each other, flirted non-stop, but I was also friends with his ex and knew that if we got involved it would cause major workplace drama. I really wanted to act on it, but also knew it probably wouldn’t end well…
Thankfully I had just finished Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map (ALL HAIL) and was recognizing how much I really needed more ease in my life. "Ease" was one of my "core desired feelings". (Read the book!)
And when I looked at this guy, I knew that nothing about him exemplified ease. Acting on something with him looked complicated and problematic. And while problems can be exciting, sure, they definitely aren’t going to feed a newborn peace pony that will eventually grow into a mighty and powerful STALLION OF PEACE.
So I opted out.
It was the right decision.
In saying no to one opportunity, we are sometimes saying yes to something we didn't even know we craved more. So if you are faced with a choice that is giving you grief, ask yourself which decision feels more like ease and calm, and go with that option. (Even if it’s not the one you think you want!)
Life is exciting enough, what with all the uncertainty and unpredictability and lack of control and copious amounts of endless opportunities, we really don’t have to infuse it with more conflict or yes, dramaaaa.
The final word I have on these practices:
Just like on "Reading Rainbow", you don’t have to take my word for it.
Test and try one of these habits for the next two weeks and see what shifts or changes for you. Notice how you feel on mornings where you don’t immediately reach for you iPhone, or what going to sleep feels like after a 10-minute meditation to quell the monkey-mind.
And of course, if you try it out let me know! I would love to hear what kinds of bomb-ass magic you’re consciously choosing for yourself and your life experience.
And if all else fails, may I recommend this powerful guided meditation? Something tells me you guys might get a kick out of it… "Fuck That: A Guided Meditation".