For many busy soloists, the concept of inner calm is alluring, yet elusive. But without the safety net of sick pay or the freedom to have a slack work day without paying the price, taking care of yourself is an essential part of being a soloist.
Those experiencing inner calm may find weeks go by where they are free of anxiety, intolerance, stress, boredom, negativity, frustration, agitation, irritation or depression.
Whilst our lives will never be entirely without suffering, by finding a sense of inner peace we are better able to deal with the challenges life provides us with.
What exactly is inner calm?
Inner calm is a quietness, a stillness within us, freedom from the need for adrenaline and a sense of peace with the world. It is contentment and it fills us with the desire to share our good fortune with others.
It is what most of us seek when we finish work at the end of each day …and what many of us find difficult to achieve. Our greatest challenge is to learn how to bring serenity into not only our quiet moments, but also those when we’re at work.
Of all the things you can do to create the state of inner calm, meditation is by far the best method to help you lower your stress levels.
A simple meditation practice
In an ideal world, you should practice meditation for 20 minutes, twice a day, every day. The reality is that most of us aren’t going to make that much time. So begin by doing whatever you can. Even ten minutes is enough to get started.
Before you start, it helps to create a quiet place to practice. Create a comfortable sitting position. Take the phone off the hook and have a watch or clock nearby so that you can check the time during your meditation.
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A simple way to begin is to use a ‘mantra’ as your object of focus. The word ‘release’ is a good mantra to start with. Later you might like to explore more traditional Sanskrit mantras, but for now, the word ‘release’ will be perfect.
Begin by closing your eyes and taking at least five deep, slow breaths, breathing in to the count of five; holding for the count of five and breathing out to the count of five. With each inward breath allow yourself to feel a sense of calm. With your outward breath, let go of any frustration and tension you are holding. Breathe out any anger, fear or worry, letting it go completely for the time that you are meditating.
Once your breathing has slowed, allow your mantra to come into your mind quietly, not actively thinking about the meaning of the word. Let go of any concerns that may arise about whether you are meditating properly. Try not to think about what meditation is supposed to feel like, simply allow the mantra to rise to your mind’s surface, clearing away other thoughts as it does.
The intention is not to seek ‘nothingness’ or a blank mind. When your mind begins to wander, direct it back to your mantra. When you are distracted by something (such as a noise), ignore it and return your thoughts to your mantra. It is completely natural for your mind to wander.
When you know that twenty minutes is up (it’s okay to check a clock), open your eyes and remain seated for a few minutes longer to allow your body and mind to return to alertness before returning to your normal activities.
And remember…the real benefits of meditation will be felt after you’ve practiced for a few weeks, so don’t give up too quickly.