The Zen Habit of Stillness

You probably have friends and acquaintances who are always rushing about and complaining about their lack of alone time. Maybe they don’t even say anything about it because they don’t know any other way to be. Every moment, they’re busy. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you examine the lives of overly busy people, you’ll probably find that they’re not contented, happy people. There’s always so much to do and so little time. Perhaps you’re reading this because you feel rushed yourself and want to slow down and reap the benefits of being still.

Two Kinds of Stillness

You can be quiet in body and quiet in mind. Both are important. Being still physically saves you a lot of energy and effort. You feel less exhausted by the end of the day. Mental quietness has a similar effect on your psychological, intellectual, and emotional energy.

All you have to do to achieve stillness of body is to finish your chores and then relax. Even while you’re completing your tasks, you can conserve energy by using little movement. To get an idea of how to do this, just watch a monk in action. Or notice how a cat relaxes.

Stillness of mind is more challenging to achieve. However, this kind of quietness is much more critical to overall contentment. 

How do you feel when you get some shocking news? How about when you finally reach your target at work, win an award, or find yourself suddenly in a crisis? You feel a rush of adrenaline and you’re off, letting off steam in a gush of emotion, words or action.

So if this is such a natural response to big changes, why do you need to cultivate stillness? When you’re in the middle, when you’re centered, you can see both ends of the spectrum.

When you refrain from reacting in an extreme way, you can control your response to the situation. You can be objective. Most importantly, you can learn from your circumstances and use them for self-development.

From another perspective, when you’ve cultivated internal quietness, you’re less likely to face extreme ups and downs.

Try these tips to develop a still mind:

  1. Stop. In an extreme situation, pull away from the circumstance for a moment. Take a deep breath before you react.
  2. Listen. Listen carefully to what’s being said. If your mind jumps the gun with words you feel compelled to speak, bring it back to the moment. Return your attention to what the other is saying.
  3. Think. Contemplate why you’re facing the situation. Did you play a part in creating it? Is the other simply mirroring you? Is there something you need to learn from this circumstance?

If you take these steps, you’ll be able to avoid overreacting or reacting negatively in haste. This means your response, if and when it does come, will be the right one for the circumstances and for you.

 The Importance of Silence 

Another way to develop mental stillness is to practice silence. Speak only when necessary. Speak only when you have something of consequence to say or something that will help the other.

Before you speak, examine your motivation for saying what you want to say. Is it to further the welfare of the other? Or is it to praise yourself or prove that you’re right and the other wrong? A need to always be right is the basis of much conflict.

Moreover, when you’re habitually silent, your words have more effect. People pay attention when you speak.

As you work toward greater self-awareness, try cultivating internal stillness. Just follow these guidelines as a start. As you practice, you’ll realize many rewards.

Beat Anxiety Without Medication

When anxiety hits you, it can be terrifying. The panic and frightening thoughts coupled with physical symptoms may lead you to believe that you’re having a heart attack or suffering from a terrible disease, when in reality, you’re perfectly healthy!

Anxiety can often cause you to have an exaggerated nervous system reaction to common stressors that others are able to ignore.

If you’re one of the millions who struggle with anxiety, the good news is that you can feel better, even without medication. You can take positive action on your own to get a handle on your anxiety and feel more in control. Of course, especially if your symptoms are debilitating, please consult your doctor or other health professional for their advice.

Both your mind and body are involved in anxiety. It’s a vicious circle: the constant worrying and negative thoughts can produce physical symptoms, which can cause more anxious thoughts. It becomes a pattern that can be challenging to break free of.

But when you’re able to overcome this challenge, it’s well worth the effort! Tackle your anxiety on both the physical and mental levels today by practicing these 10 strategies.

Physical Ways to Lower Anxiety

Try these tips to physically lower your anxiety levels:

1.      Breathe. If you’re breathing from the top of your chest and not from your abdomen, you might be making yourself more nervous. Breathe from your diaphragm and take full, deep, slow breaths.

2.      Get moving. Use up that extra energy and adrenaline that your body produces. If you don’t, it can build up and make you more nervous. By getting frequent exercise, you’ll prevent your body from storing excess adrenaline.

3.      Sit still. It’s important to exercise, but sometimes it’s more effective to be still. If you usually run from a panic attack or anxiety episode, force yourself to stay where you are and focus on your relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, to help prevent your impending anxiety.

  • The anxiety might get worse for a moment, but you’ll be calmer after a few minutes and you’ll be more prepared the next time you face anxiety.

4.      Distract yourself. It’s hard to think about feeling nervous when you’re actively engaged in other activities. Help others, play a game, or do something else that requires your total concentration as soon as you start to feel anxious.

5.      Get in shape. Being physically fit can help you feel better about your health and reduce anxiety. It’s not a quick fix, but more of a long-term goal that you can actively pursue. Staying in good physical condition goes a long way in preventing anxiety.

Mental Ways to Lower Anxiety

A positive mental attitude is just as important as using physical techniques to help overcome your anxiety. There are many ways you can use your mental resources to find peace and calm amidst the chaos of anxiety.

Follow these techniques to tackle your anxiety on a mental level:

1.      Educate yourself. It’s hard to battle something you don’t understand. Learn about your condition so you have a better understanding of what you’re facing.

2.      Use the stop sign. Imagine a big stop sign in your head when you start to have anxious thoughts. The stop sign technique is a great place to start.

3.      Network. Talking to others with anxiety can help you feel more “normal” and bring you additional strategies that have worked for others in your same situation. Reach out to others!

4.      Set aside a worry time. If you allot a few minutes each day at a set time and give yourself permission to worry only at that time, you’ll soon find that it becomes a chore – making you worry less. By only allowing yourself to worry for a short period, you can program your mind to actually worry less.

5.      Offer yourself affirmations. Say positive statements to yourself each day to help you stay strong and brave. For example: “I am a valuable and worthy person, and I have much to offer to the world.”

No matter how long you’ve had anxiety, you can do something about it. When you apply both mental and physical techniques to getting better, you’ll soon find that you – not your anxiety – are the one in control!

Boost Your Energy Level By Eating More Yogurt

Eating yogurt is an excellent way to boost your energy level to keep up with your busy schedule. Yogurt really is a high-energy food, plus there are many delicious ways to include more servings of yogurt in your diet.

How to Use Yogurt to Boost Your Energy Level:

1.      Improve your tyrosine levels. One key reason why yogurt gives you energy is because it contains the amino acid tyrosine, which converts into the chemicals dopamine and adrenaline to give your body a pleasantly stimulated feeling. Tyrosine will wake you up much like coffee without the jittery sensations and insomnia that caffeine can cause.

2.      Get complete protein. Yogurt is an excellent source of high quality protein. Just one 8 ounce serving of plain yogurt will give you about 20 percent of your Daily Value for protein. This enables your body to make its own proteins to maintain your muscles and organs.

3.      Enjoy a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health. An 8 ounce serving of yogurt provides about 30% of your Daily Value for calcium. For women who limit their consumption of other dairy products, yogurt is an excellent way to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, that way fragile bones won’t interfere with an energetic and active lifestyle.

4.      Benefit from friendly bacteria. You’ve probably heard of probiotics – friendly bacteria that can help you stay healthy and protect you from many diseases. The FDA requires that yogurt contain specific bacteria. For even better protection, look for the “Live & Active Culture Seal” indicating that the yogurt contains at least 100 million bacteria per gram at the time of production.

5.      Keep your colon healthy. Instead of buying expensive colon cleansers whose benefits haven’t been fully proven, you can keep your intestines healthy by eating yogurt. The lactobacteria, especially acidophilus, encourage the growth of friendly bacteria and help lower the risk of colon cancer.

6.      Manage lactose intolerance. More than one quarter of American adults have trouble digesting most dairy products. It’s hard to feel energetic if you’re suffering from symptoms like cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. The live and active cultures in yogurt make it easier to digest than milk so you can get the nutrients you need without intestinal upset.

7.      Get relief from yeast infections. For many women, the best thing about yogurt is its ability to fight yeast infections. Because it contains acidophilus, yogurt has been shown to decrease yeast growth in some women. If you suffer from yeast infections, yogurt can help you get your energy back.

Delicious Ways to Eat Yogurt:

1.      Eat yogurt for breakfast. Substitute yogurt for milk with your breakfast cereal or mix in some nuts and dried fruit. Use yogurt as a topping on whole wheat pancakes or waffles. Cool down a breakfast burrito with a few tablespoons of yogurt instead of sour cream.

2.      Have yogurt for lunch. Eat a container of yogurt or try a drinkable yogurt. You can buy packaged smoothies or make your own with fresh fruit and plain yogurt. Use yogurt instead of mayonnaise in your tuna salad. Dip cut vegetables or toasted pita chips in a dip made from yogurt and your favorite seasonings.

3.      Make yogurt your dessert. Frozen yogurt has less live and active cultures than the regular version, but it can still be a relatively healthy treat. Check the label for fat content and added sugar. Serve low fat vanilla yogurt instead of whipped cream with cake or pie.

Eating yogurt regularly can help keep you energized and healthy. It’s an easy way to get essential nutrients and help protect yourself from diseases that could interfere with an active lifestyle.