How to Calm Stress: My New Discovery

by dena on October 3, 2014

A surprising revelation happened while I was writing on the screened porch this week. I was enjoying pleasant seventy-something degree temperatures, when I heard crows conversing emphatically, as crows often do.

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The crows had been caw-cawing in the background. When I noticed the sounds, it seemed I was transported back to childhood. In my crow induced daydream, I was once again lying on my back in the grass by our family’s home, gazing at the incomparable blueness and following the travels of white cotton candy clouds. I swear I could feel the sun’s gentle embrace and the wind’s light caress. The two dominant sounds in this memory were the creaking of eighty-foot pine trees and the talking of crows.

 

I began to play with the experience. Noticing how calm I felt from “visiting” that spontaneous childhood memory, I was curious how it might be to invoke the experience, to call it in intentionally.

 

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My 3-Step Experiment

 

1.  I take a few slow and deep breaths (+ add a moment of stretching, for good measure).

2.  I imagine I am a kid again, relaxing on the lawn by the woods.

3.  I sink more deeply into the reverie, inviting the sensations that were present (warmth, breeze, crow and tree sounds, relaxed muscles).

 

This is all it takes. I have stayed in this practice for as few as a couple minutes and as much as half an hour. You can set a timer for whatever period you’d like.

 

Your Turn to Experiment

 

You can use a memory of your own, create an imaginary calming scenario, or borrow the one I described.

 

In terms of using your imagination, you can create as many locations and scenarios as you like. You may have heard the term “happy place” mentioned – you are welcome to give yourself a collection of many inner happy places. The key is that you feel safe and comfortable in whatever relaxing settings you select. You are in control of location, temperature, weather, indoors/outdoors, time of day/night, lighting, colors, textures . . . and so forth.

 

The calming experiments can be done sitting, reclining, even standing. You decide what works best for you each time.

 

1.  Take a few slow and deep breaths, and bring in some stretching.

 

2.  Invite yourself into the memory or imaginary setting you have chosen. Stay with this a few moments.

 

3.  Ask yourself to sink more and more deeply into the elements you would be sensing (i.e., waves lapping over your feet and ankles as you walk along a shore; sight and sounds of a crackling campfire; the aroma of bread baking or the scent of a favorite flower).

 

 

I’d love to hear from you. Think about sharing a calming, nurturing practice you already enjoy. If you play with the ideas from today, please drop back by and let us know what is happening. You might like to read How to Mellow Stress in Stressful Times.

 

You are welcome to find out about my telephone meditation classes .They are held 3 different times weekly.

Blissings, Dena

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10 comments
Patricia Anderson
Patricia Anderson

Hi Dena, I am new here and loving your site! We have the same way of calming oneself. I imagine or visualize to find inner peace and joy especially when everything in the real world seems so exhausting. I recall my past memories when I was a kid. I think about some of the things I loved to do as a child. The more fun and wacky, the better! It just does not calm me but it also releases my creativity within.

Barbara Dolan
Barbara Dolan

Thank you Dena, for sharing this great exercise. I definitely plan to do this!

Sandra Pawula
Sandra Pawula

Sounds very relaxing and enjoyable, Dena. I'm so delighted you discovered this for yourself. I'm not so much an imaginative person in the way that you describe. But, I know these types of exercises work well for others. I would simply enjoy awakening my senses and being in the present moment.

Sue
Sue

I love this idea. Sometimes we all get so overwhelmed. This is a lovely and calming coping skill. Thank you!

Liz Smith
Liz Smith

I was right there Dena, your writing has a way of making it so. I heeded a strong desire to walk the beach a few days back. It took 10 minutes of walking and water watching, to realise what I really wanted to do was just sit and let myself hear the beach. I think I lost myself for a moment there. I love that you can do this so easily.

dena
dena

Thank you so much for writing, Patricia. I am glad you are enjoying the site. What you share about recalling elements you loved in childhood touches my heart. "The more fun and wacky, the better" tickles my sense of whimsy. Blissings, ~ Dena

dena
dena

Barbara, thank you for writing. I hope your experience is refreshing. Blissings, ~ Dena

dena
dena

Thank you, Sandra. Yes, direct experience of the present moment is the most healing route of all, in my view. When the spontaneous reverie surfaced and brought a relaxing effect, sharing the gift of it, too, felt delicious. Blissings, ~ Dena

dena
dena

Sue, I appreciate so much that you wrote this comment. And, the "overwhelmed" term reminds me of someone many years ago who suggested replacing it with a shortened version, whelmed. She felt if she said, "I am whelmed," she was in a more manageable position. (Smile.) Blissings, ~Dena

dena
dena

Thank you for this note, Liz. I felt myself begin to relax as I read of you walking at the beach. And, oh, hearing the beach, it is such a favorite mellower. Love the way you phrased it, too. Years ago, I hade a sound tape of ocean waves. I especially remember listening to it as I wrote end of day and end of month chart notes on my therapy clients. Blissings, ~ Dena

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