The Difference Between Stress and Serenity
When you are relaxed and serene, your energy is focused, you can think more clearly, and you are able to organize your thoughts more effectively. You live harmoniously in body, mind, and spirit. Like a cloudless sky reflected in a limpid pool, even the very air you breathe imparts a soothing atmosphere. But most days feel more like stormy seas, with stress and emotional upheaval, swinging moods, and clamoring deadlines. Financial issues, upsetting headlines, and stress at work or school can rob you of serenity, leaving you exhausted and drained. Relationships get tangled, nerves get jangled, and the serene clarity you experienced in a morning's meditation gets overwhelmed by an afternoon of crisis and calamity. And this may be on a good day!
Here's an illustration of what stress can do and how making a simple, subtle change can relieve stress and make life easier. Place a small rock in the open palm of your hand. Now clench your fist around that rock, holding it tightly, keeping your muscles rigid and tense. How long can you hold this position comfortably? Notice how quickly your hand tires. If you hold this position for too long, your hand becomes stiff and painful, and that rigidity spreads to your entire body. Now open your hand again, allowing the rock to lie comfortably in the center of your open palm. Hold it softly, open, still, and quiet. Do you think you could hold the rock more comfortably for a longer period of time in this open position?
How often have you clutched your life in a clenched fist, fighting the natural forces, trying to control and confine life within the small boundaries of your fears and expectations? It is as uncomfortable for the human heart to be clenched and closed as it is for the human hand. Stress is a hand grasping and clutching. Serenity is an open hand ready to receive the gifts life has to offer and to release that which no longer serves. Serenity is choosing to believe in Something Greater than the limits that our life conditions would indicate. Finding serenity is less about keeping your outer life under control and more about anchoring your reality in the unseen of the spiritual realm. There is a Higher Power and an inner wisdom that can offer you peace in the midst of a storm. Cultivating that interior life can transform you from the inside out.
Cultivating serenity allows you to experience the life force moving through you and to tap into the essence of your own being. When you are in a place of stillness and serenity, everything becomes clear and you gain a more detached and higher perspective of whatever situation you are experiencing. As muddy water in a glass settles and clears with patient waiting, so do your mind and emotions settle and clarify when you choose to practice inner stillness. Choosing to focus on each moment with quiet awareness, you are more able to respond appropriately and make fully conscious choices instead of allowing yourself to be driven by unconscious forces.