For some reason I figured that as I got older, things would slow down. Calm down. Simmer down. I was mostly wrong. The world seems to spin at a constantly faster pace, and there are still times when I need three of me. If there is any difference, it is that I’ve learned a few tricks – a few simple to-do’s so that I can work more effectively on the to-be’s. It is, after all, more important – as we grow in our divinely inclined ways – to focus on “being”. I still smile when I remember President Gordon B. Hinckley’s pointers.
Here are a few simple ways to slow down and breathe – that I’ve borrowed, learned or remembered:
1. Count my blessings
Some days that’s easier than others. But on the hard days, the painful ones, the dark ones? That’s when I need to do it most. And there is comfort there. Counting them one by one, as the hymn suggests, is an elementary way of advancing ourselves by leaps and bounds. One little thought at a time. The soul seems to breathe easier.
2. Practice kindness
All fine and good when I feel well, and things are calm, and people are nice. It’s the other times [which is most of the time] that it requires more self control and more inner calm. Just as I need kindness – more than many realize some days – I figure the ones I see, or say “Hi” to, or pass, are like me. They’re dealing with hard things and may be feeling overwhelmed. If I can self-report that I’ve exercised kindness – even to the brusque rude ones on occasion – then it’s been a pretty good day. When I remember the Savior, I’m more inclined to act as He would have me act. Little wonder we are admonished to always remember Him…
3. Listen to my heart
I love the counsel in the New Testament’s book of John in which Jesus reminds us to “Let not (our) heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” A common adage is that Fear is the opposite of Faith. Whether or not that is totally true, I can’t answer. But surely faith pushes out the fear, and allows us to be less troubled by troubling issues around us.
Fear being the ridiculous (but very real, sometimes) obstacle that it is, what an impediment it can be to peace and calm! When I work on it, I can settle down, and get back on track. Paying attention to my heart – to my feelings – is hugely important.
4. Be productive yet calm
Being “Busy As A Bee” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Busy for the sake of busy? That’s not a worthwhile goal. But to accomplish things, whether it’s the mundane household chores, some monumental corporate goal, or a quiet but important family or personal spiritual goal, we are meant to be productive.
A beautiful way of being busy is to include room for the Holy Spirit to gently lead, guide, and walk beside.
Sometimes I don’t feel like being productive. But that’s another story for another topic. In the getting -things-done mode, if I am careful NOT to mix the hectic pace of production with hectic tension, I am wise. A sense of calm not only alleviates stress. It allows me to get more done. To enjoy it more. And to work as being more as our Savior trusts we’ll be.
5. Just breathe
If you’ve ever had pneumonia, or if you deal with chronic lung problems, you know to appreciate the ability to breathe. But let’s take this figuratively as well as literally.
There are times when I must stop! Look around me. Or look within myself. Pace myself. Back away from the craziness of life. And breathe in. At those moments, there seems a bit more clarity. It calms the heart and centers me when I’ve been floundering out and about in the coo-coo sphere of Too Busy, Too Bothered, or Too Bewildered.
Some days, to Just Breathe is enough. That gives me – along with these few other tips- the strength and the hope to hold on for the next go-round. It brings another drop of quiet joy.
Because our mortal journey is often hard and hectic, we must seek – seek – for refuge. These few reminders may help you – as they do me- to feel as though I can do what is required. I hope they help you, too!
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who joined the LDS Church as a teenager. She is a song writer, author, and public speaker. Her latest venture is www.goodnessmatters.com offering an online spot to share goodness and offer a bit of hope in simple, real ways.
She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. She also writes for the website www.nauvootimes.com .
Vickey loves nature, going on drives with her hubby, cooking Southern food, laughter, brownies and tootsie rolls. She teaches Gospel Doctrine in her ward. Her husband, Dean, serves in the bishopric. They are the parents of eight children and have seven grandchildren.