The Basics of Being Chill
Okay. Being TRULY chill down to our core, to live a life of equanimity, is not necessarily simple for most. From my standpoint, becoming truly chill involves a process which can involve more than a few puzzle pieces. What we want to do is set up a scenario conducive to our truly chill nature bubbling up. In order to do so we have to sort out anything blocking this process, blocking this natural state. When we get to being chill, please remember, that other treasures, other aspects of our natural state will bubble up as well, such as bliss and intuition.
I will outline some things that can be done to get the process started.
The First, Primary, Number One Goal is calming that monkey mind of ours. God gave us this brilliant problem solving, creative tool that is our brain, but it is a double edged sword in its tendency to wander about randomly and haphazardly when not otherwise consciously engaged. The monkey mind jumps from thought to thought, worry to worry, chatter to chatter when not directed to do so. The thoughts in turn spur on emotions and bodily reactions. We as humans begin to become subservient and reactive to the dynamic which is then occurring. It what can become a certain chaos that we grow accustomed to, we get separated from the natural state of being chill, equanimity.
Secondly, I just want you to understand the concept that we have TWO MALFUNCTIONING HUMAN DEFENSE SYSTEMS, which have the tendency to send our MONKEY MINDS bouncing off the walls, or more subtly put, in a constant reactionary state. Instead of malfunctioning I could also more politely say, overzealous. These two systems are: 1) Our Freeze, Fight or Flight System, primarily designed to protect us from physical harm; and 2) Our Egos, intended to protect us from emotional harm. These systems tend to get engaged over what are essentially false alarms, sending our monkey minds into reactionary mode.
As long as we live with our monkey minds running amok, and these two overzealous defense systems egging them on, we cannot achieve equanimity. We are essentially unconscious beings.
The first steps that can be taken to address the situation are as follows:
1) Start slowing the heck down. Start slowing down in almost everything you do, Walk, drive, talk, eat 10 % slower that whatever you have been doing (Don’t be a traffic hazard though). Cut down on multi-tasking.
2) Start doing some very basic breath work. Breath work means specific breathing techniques designed to help slow the body down (see above). Breath is the one thing we need for survival before food and water. Giving the body slow concentrated breaths of air tells it that we’ve got our premiere survival need met. No need for full alarm. Start with deep belly breathing. Breathe in the through the nose, belly and ribcage expanding, followed by long sloooow exhales. These are in contrast to quicker breaths centered in the chest which are actually a stress response. Do these deep belly breaths briefly and periodically throughout the day. Try to have at least one good five minute session of sit down breath work each day (this is intended to morph into a meditation practice). Explore alternative breathing relaxation techniques as well. (check resources page).
3) Start a practice of watching your thoughts throughout the day. This is some basic mindfulness. If you are slowing down in general and doing the breath work. Thoughts should begin to slow down as well, enabling us to observe them. A basic concept to understand here is that our thoughts are not us. We want to watch and observe our thoughts AND feelings from a third party perspective. I say like a professor, “ Hmmmm, interesting a jealous thought”. I do advize people to label them at first. Some will say to NOT label thoughts and feelings, that it may constitute some type of judgment. I like to look for patterns i.e. lots of insecure thoughts; or controlling or self-critical etc; feelings of anxiety, jealousy etc. Sometimes we are simply overwhelmed by many thoughts and feelings and we can call it that; or we are unsure. We can call it that. But do try to do what I call: Play-by-play on your thoughts and feelings throughout the day as you experience them, without judgment; the professorial approach.
4) Watch the inputs into your body. I am no medical doctor or nutritionist. You can check with yours in regards to inputs into your body and anxiety etc. I can only say that in studying anxiety et al, I have seen research reported consistently that says caffeine, nicotine, alcohol can add to anxiety and/or depression. As a counselor, I don’t want any high anxiety client using caffeine, it is like adding fuel to the fire. Alcohol is a depressant that some feels relaxes but actually takes away from quality sleep. The point here is: remove any inputs into your body that may even have a chance of disrupting your chill.
5) Unplug. Monitor how much media you plug into, virtual and otherwise. Don’t take your phone with you everywhere you go. Resist having the TV, radio and social media on while you read the paper and wait for your phone to ring. While driving, have phone and radio off. Learn to be okay with silence and learn to get out of immediate reaction mode with gadgets & media. Don’t let them own you.
THESE ARE THE VERY BASICS TO GET YOU STARTED. WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS REALLY JUST TRYING TO CLEAR THE FIELD, REMOVE SOME FOG. DO ALL OF THE ABOVE FOR A MONTH AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS; WHAT POPS UP IN TERMS OF FEEDBACK FROM YOUR OWN BODY & MIND AND THAT MAY PROVIDE CLUES ON FURTHER WORK TO DO. THE ABOVE ARE VERY BASIC AND EASY TO DO AND CAN BE REMARKABLE IF DONE WITH DILIGENCE.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING IN CONJUCTION WITH THE ABOVE:
Start a Meditation practice. The breathwork mentioned above is a start. If you can expand upon that, even better. There are lessons, groups, & media available to help you. Start small and go from there.
Try very basic, restorative yoga classes. These are conducive to slowing the body down, helping with breath work, and are meditative in nature. Most studios have cheap intro offers. The internet has free classes online.
Journaling. Journaling helps track patterns in thoughts and emotions. It is conducive to the constant expression of emotion which are intended to be moved out of the body & psyche ( hence the root word: motion). BTW Emailing to oneself is an easy journaling method.
Counseling. Counseling keeps emotions moving as well and can help process our “old stuff”, especially if you have experienced traumatic events in your life (which is always in the eye of the beholder). Besides, we get our teeth checked on regular basis; we get annual physicals; why not regular maintenance on the psyche?
A clinically proven counseling process called EMDR can be great for processing traumatic events in a more expedient manner than traditional therapy.
Massage. Once a month minimum. We tend to store stress in our bodies. Massage helps to release this and relax. Affordable massage can be found at local massage schools.