I have a small chalkboard hanging on a wall in my kitchen with the words, “Calm Inner State,” printed in bold, decorative letters thanks to Michael who has a gift for making words look like art. He doesn’t know it, but every time I walk by that sign I smile and silently thank him for supporting my spiritual practice.
The “Calm Inner State” sign serves as an anchor, a reminder of what, to me, is the most important work I can focus on at this time in my life. Each day, when faced with challenges big and small, I do my best to remember that I’m not my busy mind, my disturbing thoughts, or my personality. I’m a soul, a higher being in a physical body who best serves the world when she is calm, clear, and filled with good energy.
The sign in my kitchen also helps me to remember that it’s a complete waste of time to try and strategize, manipulate, or control the outside world so that I feel okay inside. Better to maintain a practice that tends to the inner world first.
The way I see it, true empowerment is our ability to return to and eventually maintain a calm inner state regardless of what’s unfolding before us. Disturbing thoughts just create more disturbances to chew on and when we focus on creating a calm inner state, we give ourselves the best chance of making wise choices, of being present to others without an agenda, and of bringing a helpful sense of peace and clarity to any situation.
There’s so much pain and suffering – the earthquake in Haiti, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, rising Covid cases, to name a few. There are some days when it’s so overwhelming that it can be an enormous challenge to maintain a calm inner state when the world feels so chaotic and uncertain. But I suspect that if we fully understood the power of presence, we’d make the practice a priority.
Years ago, I was blessed with an opportunity to meet with a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, the revered spiritual teacher who brought yoga to the West. This disciple was a nun who dedicated her life to meditation and spiritual practice and meeting with students now and then to support their growth. We visited twice and spoke on the phone a few times and while she shared simple teaching stories, the details of which I still remember to this day, what stayed with me the most was the quality of her energy. Her presence was her message and it lifted me without her ever needing to say a word.
I think about her often. She was a symbol of strength and resilience, and a master at using her energy for good. She sits on my spiritual board of directors right next to my Dad and Louise Hay, and I call on them often for guidance and support.
I guess it takes a village to learn to cultivate a calm inner state. These days, they’re working overtime.