When You’re All Shook Up

“Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”


The other day, I awoke with a start.

The entire room was shaking.

At first, in my half asleep state, I thought an animal was running around the room.

Then I thought perhaps it was wind that was causing the window panes to tremble.

“Earthquake!” my husband said, and we both jumped out of bed.

Luckily, during our few seconds of panic, the shaking stopped.

With all the natural disasters lately, I think most of us are a bit on edge.

It’s human nature to try to figure out ways to sidestep or prevent the unthinkable, or at least to lessen its impact.

But deep down inside, we all know that life is unpredictable.

One of my favorite teachers, Pema Chodron, tells a story about “what if.”

What if, she asks, the entire world were covered with little shards of glass?

The truth is, she continued, most of us go through life as if this is the case.

And most of us try to cover the entire surface of our outer world with metaphoric sheepskin so we won’t get hurt.

We try to control everything “out there” by doing everything “right.”

We try to say the “right” things, choose the “right “ friends, find the “right” jobs, follow the right “rules,” use the “right” beauty cream, get accepted to the “right” schools, eat the “right” things, make the “right” investments, do the “right” exercise, and create the “right” emergency strategies.

But this is life we are talking about.

While all those things might help a little, one thing is sure. Outer changes will never get us what we really want.

What We Really Want

Since the beginning of time, spiritual teachers have been reminding us that what we really want is something we each already have (regardless of whether or not we’ve done the “right” things, or everything has gone “right” for us “out there.”)

When the world is covered in shards of glass, the lesson goes, the only thing we can do is to cover our own feet in moccasins—another way of saying only we can find that soft spot of well-being within where we are already at peace.

No one else can do this for us, and we can’t do it for anyone else.

Scientists have claimed witnessing a mysterious life force keeping people alive in spite of what scientific data said “should” happen. Christians call this energy within the Inner Light or God within. Buddists call this soft inner space our unconditional goodness.

Jewish scriptures refer to the breath of God in each person. The Hindu Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, speaks of the Self Within, and a Muslim scholar refers to the soul as an intuitive experience of contact with the Creator.

Whatever our beliefs or tradition, experiencing this mysterious energy within seems to be the ultimate panacea to the world’s craziness.

Finding Your Own Way

Meditation is one way we can connect with our gift, our true essence, that inner sense of calm that we all have.

There really is no “right” way to do this. (In fact, making ourselves “right” or “wrong” as we experiment tends to add more craziness rather than more calm.)

Other fun ways might include doing activities that help us create a state of flow and true joy (perhaps playing a musical instrument, exercising or doing artwork). A friend recently told me how she feels a deep state of calm while swimming laps. Another said she enters a meditative-like state when she works on jigsaw puzzles.

We might also feel more connected with this peaceful part of ourselves during silent meditation, yoga, going for a slow, quiet walk, praying, singing, journal writing, recording our dreams, doing energy work or simply being in nature.

The key seems to be setting and remembering the intention that as we do what we do, we want to feel connected with that aspect of ourselves that is already feels completely well, whole and calm.

Like anything, the more we often practice (and the more different ways we practice), the easier it is to get back to who we really are.

Because chances are, when we need our inner zen the most, we won’t be on a meditation cushion.

We just might be all shook up.

For more about navigating tough times, here’s an article on getting unstuck, one on being more confident, and one for crabby days.

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What helps you feel calm during times of trouble?


Copyright © 2020-present Laurie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photo credit: PopTika/Shutterstock

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