Finding Calm

Bali thru Heather 1264“Anxiety is contagious,” said Fritz Perls, influential psychologist, in the 1960’s. It’s a good thing to notice, as you may unconsciously take on others’ anxiety and wonder why you feel that way.

He may as well have also said “calm is contagious.” Anyone who has helped a crying baby calm down knows that you need to calm yourself to calm the baby.image

When the Vietnam war ended and thousands of people fled the country, they became known as the “boat people.” They left in boats that were overcrowded and rickety, facing rough seas and pirates, not knowing where they might land. Thich Nhat Hanh says that if there was one calm person in the boat, that boat was more likely to make it safely to shore.

One of my aspirations is to be that calm person in situations where others are anxious. When I am talking to an anxious person, if I am conscious of it I will deliberately speak more slowly and quietly and deepen my breathing. Often that helps them to be calmer too. At least it helps me not to ratchet up! I also sometimes imagine scary situations so that I can practice maintaining a calm presence; then, if I find myself in that situation in real life, I have a greater possibility of being helpful.

So when you notice me being anxious, help me find my way back to that calm presence!

Photos: Bali, 1987; Venice, 1968

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2 Responses to Finding Calm

  1. Cheryl says:

    Hi, Kathy. This is such a good reminder. My current job means I spend a lot of time talking to agitated people – students, teachers, parents, etc. I hope to remember to be mindful of my level of agitation as well when I interact with others who are stressed out. Thanks for the reminder.

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