According to my own experience, the highest level of inner calm comes from the development of love and compassion. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
The full quote is as follows:
According to my own experience, the highest level of inner calm comes from the development of love and compassion. The more concerned we are with the happiness of others, the more we increase our own well-being. Friendliness and warmth towards others allow us to relax and help us to dispel any sense of fear or insecurity so we can overcome whatever obstacles we face.
To me, this speaks to the deeper nature of humans. So often we focus on the vicious and nasty side of humanity. This saying points us in a better direction, towards a way of releasing our better selves. By being concerned with others’ happiness and by being friendly and warm towards others, we become better as people. The actions also help us relax the tension between us and others, assuaging their (and our) insecurities and fears. This assists them in becoming better as people. Then we can, together, better handle whatever life sends our way.
Or, in a somewhat shorter form: By not being overly excitable and also by being likable, we can better help others feel less threatened, helping all of us cooperate better and tackle life’s little problems.
Why is inner calm important?
We’ve all seen people who are so energetic that you wonder if they bleed coffee when they get a cut. We have also seen the people who ‘fly off the handle’ or give very strong emotional responses to (what appears to us to be) the slightest provocation. These are counter-examples for inner calm. Would either of the people I just described be very well suited to to helping others feel less threatened or more welcome, as a precursor to winning them over and convincing them to cooperate in solving the problems facing the world? I don’t think so.
Inner calm, to some, is to be the rock by the shore against which the waves break. Immovable, unconcerned, unflappable. I think that’s all wet. To me, inner calm means having a center, a balance point. As you stand still, you’re not perfectly balanced. If you are outside, you also have to deal with the wind pushing you as it blows past. You are close to the center, but usually off by just a bit, first this way and then that way. Similarly, if you are walking or running, you are wobbling around, with your physical sense of balance just a little to this side of center, a little ahead of center, back and forth, side to side. On average, you are centered, or you would eventually fall over, but you are staying within a small radius of your physical balance center.
Where can I apply this in my life?
To me, inner calm is the goal, the place I try to be. Be as close to center as appropriate for the situation. You will be straying away from your energy and emotional centers when watching “the big game,” right? But if you aren’t into whatever was on the TV when you walked into a room, you’re probably going to be a whole lot closer to your emotional and energy centers. If you are enthusiastically playing a sport, you will be going well beyond your physical balancing center as you maneuver, right? But if you’re sitting quietly and listening to music or reading a book, you’re probably staying very close to your physical balance center.
Would either of the people discussed above (the ‘busy bee’ and the ‘fly off the handle’) spend much time near their centers, or would they be moving erratically and rapidly in many different directions? That’s pretty much the antithesis of inner calm, isn’t it?
To help with being calm, I created an anchor (a NLP anchoring technique, similar to Pavlov and how he trained his dogs). I went through my mind for the time I was the most calm ever in my life. I came up with being on a wooden sailing ship, with a fresh breeze, rising to meet each new wave, the creaking of the boat, all the details. Colors, smells, sounds, feelings, sensations, and most importantly, the inner calm. I then chose a motion that reminded me of that situation and associated the two to each other. I would work really hard at being calm, then repeat the motion. Again and again, until now, when I make the motion, I calm myself down. And drool a little.
When were you the most calm, the most at peace, in your life? Grab a paper & writing implement and write down everything you can remember that was part of the scene. What did you see? What did you hear? What did you physically feel (touch, motions, …)? What scents were present? Were there tastes associated with it as well? What was going through your mind? By writing all this down, you can better remember it, and remember it again and again. Find a motion that reminds you of this and, when in as relaxed a state as you can muster, do it, feel it and be it. Repeat until the motion brings a noticeable expression of calmness when you are in an other-than-calm condition. Now you have started down the path. More practice will bring you closer still until inner calm is your preferred state of mind, your default position.
That was one way to help find inner calm. Another is to map out your pathways to agitated states of mind and put up road blocks. If you fly off the handle a lot, perhaps you can feel the building up before you blow. Consider how you can derail or release the pressure. Can you come up with a gesture or word/phrase to let people know you need some space to calm down? Can you visualize the pain you will cause by flying off the handle, and use that to help damp down the pressure? These are just a few ideas for one specific path away from inner calm. You will have to brainstorm ideas that work for you and fit your paths. And then plan how to habituate them and make them part of you.
The biggest thing to remember is repetition is the mother of skill. Whatever you think, whatever you do, if you do it regularly, that is what you will become. You are training your mind, and like training your body, you have to do it over and over and over until it becomes automatic. When your first reaction is to explode, you will explode. When you have worked on inner calm enough that it is your preferred path, you will explode less and less.
That’s where I am, and where I will stay, at least until the first time my daughter breaks curfew. Somehow, I believe I will fly off the handle just a little bit. 8)
From: Twitter, @DalaiLama
confirmed at : it’s his own feed… but also at facebook : http://www.facebook.com/DalaiLama/posts/176676835680468