5 ways to transform agitation into calm with mindfulness

5 ways to transform agitation into calm with mindfulness: Group meditation in busy public square.

“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”

~ Indira Gandhi

The agitation of  “busy” can be felt in the body – if you stop and tune in. Without tuning in it is an underlying force that propels you through the day with a sense of breathlessness, rush and urgency. An internal engine that switches on from the moment you wake up, triggering flurries of thoughts and to-do lists that scroll through the “news feed” of your mind.

The agitation of busy pushes you to do things you know are plain stupid. Like text a friend or check your email while you’re driving. Only to be jolted from its spell – a realisation that your life is fragile, and that a moment of poor judgement in a moving vehicle could land you in an intensive care unit or worse

The agitation of busy makes it hard to sit still. With no comfort in stillness, you’re compelled to move and do. Maybe deep down it’s a fear of failure. Maybe it’s your survival instinct with fear-based messages telling you if you don’t work harder and earn more money you won’t have enough to feel happy. Maybe it’s your addiction to needing to feel important, wearing “busy” like a badge of self-importance masking those gnawing feelings of “not good enough.”

The agitation of busy can only be recognised when you take a moment to pause. When you arrive at stillness and can recognise the movement inside.

Mindfulness meditation provides a microscope into your inner world. It spotlights what’s going on from moment to moment and illuminates the agitation of busy. It doesn’t necessarily feel good. In fact, being present with the agitation of busy can be unpleasant taking the form of physical itches, twitches, or tightness, compelling you to want to …

Move. Avoid. Do.

But, if you can see the agitation of busy for what it is and stay present, simply observing this chaotic internal energy, eventually it moves through and shifts. It is impermanent and will pass.

As you make space to transform agitation into calm with mindfulness, you return to a connection with calm, ease, presence and flow in daily life.

5 ways to transform agitation into calm with mindfulness

1. Recognise the agitation of busy

This step is essential and as you practice meditation more regularly you will get better at detecting the agitation of busy.

It is most evident by thoughts that fill your mind compelling you to “do”. Thoughts that convince you that you have no time to meditate, that you are too busy.

2. Resist the seduction of your thoughts 

When you are under the spell of busy your mind streams out thoughts that fill you with a sense of urgency. When you can recognise your thoughts for what they are, just thoughts, and not necessarily the truth, you find a greater level of freedom in life.

As you practice mindfulness more regularly you become much better at observing and recognising these thoughts, rather than allowing them to determine your actions.

3. Check-in with your values 

It’s important to have a clear sense of what matters most to you so that when your thoughts pull you in the opposite direction, you can be master of your mind and not a slave to it. You are able to decide with clarity what actions you will take, rather than act on automatic pilot, mindlessly. Write a list of your highest values, those things that are most important in your life, and keep them somewhere visible so you can live aligned to your values each.

4. Choose for the long term gain 

When you are trying to create new ways of being, whether it’s starting a meditation practice or getting physically fit through regular exercise, it’s easy to succumb to what feels better in the moment, the habitual response. When you are faced with the thoughts that are trying to pull you away from what you value most and how you most want to be and live, remind yourself to choose for the long term gain.

Commit to choosing the action that will move you in the direction of your values – even if you just do it for a few minutes.

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"If we wish to be healthy, happy and clear-minded, we need to upgrade our “inner technology”of attention to meet the demands of our increasingly complex world. That's where mindfulness comes in.."




Elise Bialylew is the author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Plan, and founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness fundraising campaign.

A doctor trained in psychiatry, turned social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert, she’s passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools for greater wellbeing and flourishing, and offers workshops and training at The Mind Life Project.

Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and on Australian Television. She was recently recognised by the Australian Financial Review as a 2019 AFR Women of Influence.

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