“I want to get as calm as the Dalai Lama”, my friend said. I felt a big smile on my face. Yeah, it didn’t feel like I was smiling, it felt like I was BEING SMILED. And just thinking about it, makes it happen again. Not only are my lips smiling, but my heart is widening, too. It was a statement that made me happy – and calm, too. I love her for saying it.
We were sitting on her porch, talking about the difficulties life is challenging us with, pain we’re feeling, how to meet it. I’m so appreciative of her intention, not only because I believe that being as calm as the Dalai Lama is a wonderful purpose of its own, but because of what it takes to get there. I admire the path she’s chosen. Not the easy, even, paved one. But the steep sand road with unpredictable turns and twists, that sometimes requires deep digging and at other times the building of bridges. The one I want to travel, too, and am so easily slipping off.
2013 was the most challenging year in my life. Fear and anxiety, sadness and exhaustion, were dominating my days. Each moment of calm was highly treasured for the respite it was providing. But never did they just spontaneously happen. While I am a firm believer in meditation practices and their positive effects, when in the middle of an anxiety attack, meditating doesn’t exactly feel possible. Taking a few, mindful, deep breaths, reminding myself to feel for my faith, grounding myself in my body with a hot cup of tea, were practices that were easier to reach for. Walking helps. Writing helps. And while connecting with someone supportive is the last step on my calm map (see picture), it often happens the other way around: my sister was with me on the phone while I cried and cried, a dear friend, far away, was receiving my desperate emails, my close friends in town and others from far way, came by just to hold me, or let me talk, friends from the other side of the Atlantic could, thanks to the difference in time, provide energetic hugs and support in the middle of the night, when no one here was awake. When feeling connected and supported, I could practice those other things more easily.
While life isn’t quite as dramatic anymore, each day still has it challenges. Each day is also full of love. And for the love of my dear ones and the love of life, I remind myself to breathe deeply and follow my calm map. Aspiring to be as calm as the Dalai Lama!