I’m sure you have all heard the endless number of takes on the saying Keep Calm and Carry On but you may not know where the original saying came from. During WW2 the British Government undertook a campaign to encourage citizens to maintain a certain level of calmness and normalcy during wartime. The saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was printed on posters that were to be displayed across the British Isles if Britain was invaded by Germany. Since the invasion never happened the saying never made an official public appearance… that is until almost 60 years later when the posters were discovered at an antiques auction. (keepcalmandcarryon.com)
I’ve decided to join the ranks and come up with my own version that falls in line very nicely with the history of the original saying. Mine is related it to that internal war that we are all battling, you know the one I’m taking about.
On one side of the field we have the visionary and dreamer. They have a lot of goals they want you to accomplish and a very lovely vision of the life they want you to lead. We like this team. On the other end we have the downer and the realist. They have to be pragmatic and sensible and keep you in check.
This is a battle I would guess most of us have been fighting our whole lives and it still rages on. The dreamer and visionary want you to start your own business, open a second location, run a 10K race, travel to Europe on your own, balance on your head. They fight with the realist who doesn’t want you to get hurt, lose your money or want people to call you crazy. The downer just keeps telling you that you don’t deserve to be happy in ALL areas of your life. There’s only so much happiness to go around and you, my dear, have enough. And so goes the battle.
KEEP CALM AND KEEP ON you say… how do I do that?
I have the perfect tool to help you keep calm… your own breath. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious try to find a quiet space (bathrooms at the office or at home work quite well) and focus on your breathing. Breathe through your nose and take it in deep so that your lungs and belly expand like a balloon. As you exhale through your mouth, make a little sigh and feel your whole body relaxing. With every inhale visualize your body filling up with lightness, happiness, contentment, excitement… anything you want to feel. With every exhale visualize all those nasty thoughts and feelings leaving your body and mind, leaving space for all the good things. Set your alarm for 5 minutes, close your eyes and give it a try. In a yoga class we focus on our breath a lot. We tie our movements with our breath but often we find stillness and just breathe. And here’s the best part… you have your breath with you all the time. So pull it out when you need it and see how it can help you ‘keep calm’.
When you are calm it’s much easier to ‘keep on’ moving ahead. Maybe you’ve inhaled courage and you go ahead with that meeting at the bank that you were about to cancel or take advantage of that flight deal that ends today. Maybe you’ve inhaled strength and keep running up that hill when you want to just stop and walk. Perhaps it was calmness so that you could deal with a co-worker or client in a more constructive way. Whatever you are looking for you already have it within you, just use your breath to find it.
One of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments I had recently was as I was running up Signal Hill in preparation for the very hilly Cape to Cabot running race. I realized I didn’t mind running up hills anymore! You see, I use to dread running up even the slightest hill (like most I’m sure) and would more often than not stop and walk up them. Then the universe played a funny trick on me. It located my ideal house at the top of a very big hill. When I first moved in I would walk up the hill at the end of my run. Then I’d run part way and eventually right to my house. That downer voice in my head would tell me that I was tired and couldn’t do it but each time I’d take a deep breath in and keep running for a little longer. Now I have run so many hills that I know that I can do them. I don’t love them but I’ve accepted them and know that I can get to the top. That’s what happens when you keep on… and on… and on. Eventually that voice in your head gets quieter and quieter because you are proving that you CAN accomplish those goals and you DO deserve it.
So as you continue on with your day, week and life can you start to become aware that there are different voices in your head and that you can control which voice wins the battle? Use your breath to keep calm and then keep on and on and on. Because it takes practice, it really does… but it also works!