Staying calm under pressure

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A sea is calm or stormy, depending on the wind.  Humans, however, have an ability to remain calm despite the wind. Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

Calmness is the ability to keep a level head despite what is happening to you.

When you’re under pressure, you can be convinced that no one could be expected to remain calm in your situation.  You will swear that it’s the situation, not you.

You will definitely have a point.  The only trouble is, asserting that it’s the situation may not get you anywhere.  You may be better off following a pattern where you accept the situation calmly, and then choose your next action.

YOU ARE A SEA, AND NOT A SEA

Think of a sea in a storm.  The wind comes, and buffets it around.  There is a clear physical relationship between the wind and the sea, and the sea is powerless to remain calm.  It has no choice but to fluff up with waves, and look chaotic.  When the wind stops, then the sea stops.  Without the wind, the sea looks all calm and innocent.

Many people behave like this.  When things around them kick off, then they kick off.  There is a direct, dependent relationship between the amount of fuss around them, and the amount of fuss within them.  When the situation is frantic, they are frantic.  When there is no hassle, they have no hassle.  They will insist that, if only the hassle would disappear, they would be calm and happy.

But human beings have an advantage over seas.  The key difference is that humans have a buffer zone called a mind.  Hassle in the outside world buffets the mind, but then the mind has a choice over how to respond.  The mind is a bit like a car’s suspension.  You go over a bump, and the suspension can remove the immediate pressure, because it has a mechanism that mediates between the vehicle and its surroundings.

YOUR SUSPENSION

What makes up the suspension that can protect humans from stress?  There are possibly three main elements:

  1. Your ability to sit calmly, whatever the situation
  2. Your ability to achieve focus among chaos
  3. Your ability to choose your next action, independently of what is done to you
WHAT MEDITATION OFFERSConsider meditation a daily practice of the above three skills.  First, you are learning to sit quietly, with a settled mind, whatever your outer circumstances.  Secondly, you are learning to focus on a single object, and to overcome the urge to let your mind be dissipated in panic.  And thirdly, you are learning to gain a pattern of action which is responsive rather than reactive – which makes genuine, peaceful choices, instead of blowing in the wind.

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A MEDITATION

Am I calm?  Not always.  When I am calm, I can see more clearly.  I can focus.  I can act responsively, in a gentle flow with what is around me.

Every day, without fail, situations will arise which will push me, like a sea in the wind.  I will be tempted to kick up a storm, and to become a chaotic mess of waves crashing in on each other.

But, as a human, I have the ability to remain calm despite any situation.

As a human, I can be quietly focused, even when the rest of the world seems chaotic.

As a human, I can choose a next action, peacefully.

Am I calm?  Not always.  But when I am, I’m at my best.

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