A Practice to Help You Find Your Own Tranquility in Today’s Chaotic World

“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh.

In today’s article, I know I want to speak about tranquility, yet I am not quite sure what I want to say about this state of being, which I believe to be a conscious choice and a grace-filled way of living. All I know is that tranquility’s energy is present, and I am being called to the idea more directly these past few weeks, so here I sit with the intention of my day, married to whatever is guiding these thoughts, trusting somehow the words will flow in, and it will make sense to at least 1 person, even if that person is me. Teehee.

Tranquility

I have had a fabric wall hanging in my quite eclectic powder room, for years, with an Asian symbol and the words Tranquility; the peace that comes when energies are in harmony, relationships are in balance. I also have had this as part of my email sign-off for years, and simply reading the words always brings a calmness over me that is undeniably pleasant, and centering and leaves me with a deep sense of hope for all of life.

But, what is tranquility, or maybe the question is where is tranquility? Is it a state of mind, an emotion, a choice, a symptom, or a byproduct? I know when I feel it, yet I am not always sure how I got there.

It just so happens, that I have been listening to Brene Brown’s newest book, ATLAS OF THE HEART, on my daily walk with Winston the puppy. Since Brene is a great evoker of thought for me, I will start with her words about what she calls the emotion of tranquility: “research says that tranquility is associated with the absence of demand, and no pressure to do anything.” She goes on to expand the definition, with this: “tranquil environments provide many restorative elements that are needed to counter mental fatigue and attention depletion.” Hearing this I became quite excited, exclaiming YES! YES! YES! out loud for all on the trail to hear.

Why the excitement? Well, you see, this explains how I choose to live, why I want to share my way of living with others, and even more than that, why retreats (where one truly immerses themselves in the absence of demand and marinates in being curious) are so very important to my model for mindful living. I feel validated, not only by how I feel, my resilience, and how I flourish, I now feel there is science behind the methods that my intuition has guided me to. I absolutely love it when intuition is confirmed by science!!

We can all relate, these days, to feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically fatigued and depleted to the point that our attention is all but nonexistent, especially after 2 years of a pandemic and now a war being played out on the world stage. And Here’s the deal, I don’t feel the idea of restoration and tranquility can, any longer, be considered indulgent. Tranquility is a must and a state that is a requirement for accountable living. Tranquility must be baked into our days with no exception and no excuses; it is not something to save for a day at the spa. Tranquility must have a solid space in each and every one of our days, regardless of what life is throwing our way.

We cannot hope for a more harmonious world until we first find that harmony within. The desire for tranquility asks that we stay present, aware, and engaged so that we may be available to live in a way that begins to bring relief to an overworked culture and that also ignites creative solutions to all that plagues our world today. We owe it to life to create the best environment, internally and externally, we can so that we have the ability to show up and create change. Trauma begets trauma, and tranquility begets harmony, balance, and peace.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it.
And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

From Brene’s definition of tranquility, it would be easy to surmise that tranquility is not a choice and that we must actually escape our lives in order to experience this emotion, yet I invite you to consider tranquility a choice. It is the choice to take a deep breath, center, and feel what is actually true at the moment. When we take the pressure of all we have to “do”, and bring in the reality of what’s actually present can we manufacture the absence of demand and the feeling of nothing to do?

So how do we manufacture or engineer tranquility into our lives? Let’s start by using more of Brene’s work, as an outline. She refers to researchers Rachel and Stephen Kaplan’s findings of the four essential elements of a restorative environment (which, in turn, leads to tranquility)

  1. A sense of getting away
  2. A feeling of immersion
  3. Holding attention without effort
  4. Compatibility with one’s preferences.

I understand that we may not always have the ability to immediately get away, nor the ability to immerse ourselves in nature and release everything that is vying for our attention, and we certainly know that our own preferences are not always being met, by the outside world.

Yet, let’s look at what can affect:

  1. Detachment — We may feel a great sense of getting away, by setting our cell phone in a basket by the front door (and leaving it there) when we get home, or by enjoying a part of our yard or home we never go into. Even taking a different route home from work or taking 3 transitional deep cleansing breaths before getting out of the car can bring a sense of getting out of our habitual routine of thoughts that have us in a perpetual state of not getting away. Detaching from the habitual nature of life and choosing to be where you are is very liberating.
  2. Intention — Feeling immersed is likely present for us, yet what is it we are immersed in? Are we caught up in thinking about what we need to do, or are we immersed in the beauty and smell of the foods we are preparing? Are we drowning out our day with a blaring news station or are we immersing our senses in the gentle sounds of calming tones, or birds chirping outside? Choosing with the intention of tranquility and restoration is the goal.
  3. Meditation — Practicing meditation will and can bring a renewed ability to hold our attention in our daily life. One technique I like to use when I feel unfocused is candle gazing. Allowing your mind to fall upon something, like the flame of a candle, can lead to greater focus and presence throughout the rest of your day.
  4. Gratitude — Noticing what is present that does fall within the compatibility zone of our preferences is a tried and true practice. It allows us to not only cultivate the ability to feel grateful and appreciative of what we have, sensing more and more feelings of compatibility, it can also support us in recognizing where we may need to develop boundaries around what is not compatible with our preferences, and also recognize what we might have the ability to change, in order to cultivate tranquility.

To end, I will say that not only is tranquility my choice for daily living because it feels good, but now I know that it is a way I live because, intuitively, my being knows how to best support life in a culture that values do, do, do over be, be, be. My soul called for this life in order to heal the sometimes overwhelming and very current trauma of our culture, as well as the sometimes debilitating trauma of my past, giving me my best shot at healthy, creative connection and fulfillment, which in turn can be in service to a greater idea.

What life is your soul calling for? Drop me a response, I would love to hear.

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