• Reflective Resources

U is for unshakeable, unflappable, unruffled

Unshakeable, unflappable, unruffled i.e. having a state of inner calm


“un·shake·able An unwavering and undisputed confidence; a steadfast commitment to the truth; presence, peace of mind, and a calm amidst the storm” Tony Robbins


We live in a world of constant noise and motion. Persistent low-grade stress has become the norm and this is having a major long-term impact on our mental and physical health. If we want to flourish, we need to redress the balance and intentionally create good habits to counter the negative effect that this stress brings.


"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Wayne Dyer


Being unshakeable does not mean that you aren’t affected negatively by anything or that you don’t ever feel afraid, worried, or overwhelmed, it is about defusing our reactions ; knowing that we are not our emotions or the things that happen to us. We experience the whole gamut of feelings but learn to retain peace of mind and a sense of inner peace and calm.


We don’t become unflappable because we avoid feelings or scenarios, instead we deliberately nurture ourselves and reframe our resistance to increase our resilience to things that might otherwise have a ‘negative’ effect on our lives.


What can we do to retain a central reserve of peace and calm amidst the chaos ?


"Breaking the cycle takes time. Be Patient and Gentle with yourself. Set long term goals. And be persistent! Remember to Stretch, Laugh and be Unshakable!" Sathya Sai Baba


Here are some suggestions from A-Z to help you become unflappable!  :


Affirmations


“Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily” Tia Walker


Affirmations are designed to encourage an optimistic mindset which in turn reduces negative thoughts. When we are able to replace negative phrases with positive statements, it helps to construct more adaptive, hopeful narratives about who we are and what we can accomplish.


The way we phrase the positive affirmations we create and use is very important though; they have to ring true and be phrased in a way that is authentic and ties up with our values. If we chant phrases which seem fake because they don’t line up with how we see actually see ourselves at present it will create a dissonance and cause a lot of stress and pressure. Lee McKay Doe makes a clear distinction between positive affirmations and authentic affirmations


e.g. ‘I am free of worry and regret’ (positive affirmation) versus ‘I acknowledge my worries and regrets without feeling guilty for having them’ (authentic affirmation)


Breathing


We can help ourselves remain centred by focusing on our breath despite any passing thoughts. By bringing our attention to our breath, it can calm our minds and naturally slow our heart beat down and bring about a sense of equilibrium.


A Japanese study showed that by simply taking a minimum of 6 deep conscious breaths it will change your body state. Breathe in through the nose (which increases the nitrogen in your blood stream), then out through the mouth as if you are breathing through a straw and for as long as possible (In fact breathing slowly helps slow your heart rate down quickly!)


Caring for ourselves


When some people think about self-care, they think about how they can feel better quickly and choose ‘numbing behaviours’ like excessive drinking, eating or surfing social media, risk taking etc in order to feel immediate short-term gratification but self-care is about the complete opposite, it is concerned with self-awareness, reflection and processing and facing head on what is causing us to want to become numb or avoid stuff and in so doing we create resilience and a growth mindset. So think about reducing how much caffeine etc you consume in order to stop caffeine stirring up the sympathetic nervous system which will create stress


Declutter


"Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you as your shadow, unshakable." Gautama Buddha


Clutter, whether it is physical or mental, can have a profound effect on our lives. It is useful to learn how to simplify and pare away the non essential, the things that stop us focusing time and energy on reaching and enjoying that which is truly important and has true value. As with habits, it is not a case of simply removing things from our lives but of replacing them with something more positive and meaningful.


Exercise and sunlight


Exercising for just 10 minutes can release endorphins, pain-killing chemicals that improve our mental and physical state. When we feel better, we act and respond better. Light coming in at the correct time of the day can also elevate our mood and build our reserves. Again why not combine it with breathing and gratitude?


Forgiveness


When we learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and show ourselves compassion and understanding , we become more grounded and confident and this gives us the courage to face new things.


Gratitude


In the “busyness” of each day it’s too easy to forget that each and every day there are lots of things to be grateful for. When life is tough and we are facing challenges, we often find ourselves with tunnel vision, focusing on what’s wrong with our lives at the expense of noticing what’s going well. By taking the time to reflect /write down 3/5 things each day that we feel grateful for , it can help reinstate a balanced perspective of our day. Alternatively, why not combine your breathing with focusing on things that you are grateful for ? Change your focus, shift your thoughts, change your state


Hearing nature sounds and listening to specific types of music


It is not possible to be surrounded by the relaxing sounds of nature all the time but there are a lot of pieces of music that have been specifically created to help us relax, sleep, and calm the senses etc. "Weightless" by Marconi Union is one such piece. In fact there is a study done to say that this is the most calming song that has been created so why not give it a listen?


Intention


“If you commit to your intentions by taking aligned action, you will likely end up where you want to go” Christie Inge


Intention is not just a vague whim/desire to do or not do something it involves preparation and planning and determined action to create new and better habits.


Like intentionality, becoming someone who is unflappable does not happen by fluke. There are different stages between having an idle wish to intentionally being able to draw on an oasis of calm. It takes effort and preparation and consistency.


Journaling – an opportunity to mind dump


By making time to journal each day, it can give us the chance to process our thoughts and feelings, and to express them in a safe way. It can also sometimes be helpful to look back over what we have written, the fears we have expressed etc and compare it to the reality that actually took place. We can then use it as a retrospective learning opportunity


Knowledge


It is not enough to just have knowledge and know how things work in theory (cognitively) we need to take action and do them in practice (physically) paying close attention to both the process and outcome.


When we are 100% present, listening to our body, our mind and our gut (using all our senses) we will gain information through multiple feedback loops, and those loops of information help direct our understanding and therefore our future actions and we improve and gain in calmness, confidence and courage.


Lists


By making a ‘to do’ list or a problem/possible solutions list, it gives our brains the chance to stop juggling all the information in our head. ‘Seeing’ our options rather than just abstractly swirling them around in our head can give us a better perspective and we can then systematically plan a the next steps that we need to take, whilst having a better grasp of the bigger picture


Make time for mindfulness practice/meditation


"REAL Peace is always unshakable... 'Bliss is unchanged by gain or loss'"

Harbhajan Singh Yogi


By consciously coming to a halt even for a very short amount of time, it can pay dividends. When we slow ourselves down, it give us a chance to press the pause button and step back and see the bigger picture.


"{While meditating} I sit quietly and rest in the nature of mind; I don't question or doubt whether I am in the "correct" state or not. There is no effort, only rich understanding, wakefulness, and unshakable certainty. When I am in the nature of mind, the ordinary mind is no longer there. There is no need to sustain or confirm a sense of being: I simply am."

Sogyal Rinpoche


Nature


"The mountain has left me feeling renewed, more content and positive than I’ve been for weeks, as if something has been given back after a long absence, as if my eyes have opened once again. For this time at least, I’ve let myself be rooted in the unshakable sanity of the senses, spared my mind the burden of too much thinking, turned myself outward to experience the world and inward to savour the pleasures it has given me." Richard Nelson


Nature plays a very important role in bringing balance and health to our lives.

We are spending an increasing amount of time indoors and online, but studies show that we need the complete opposite to help our brains and bodies to stay healthy. Try and spend some time every day outside and if for any reason you can’t then try bringing some nature inside – with perhaps a bunch of flowers or a plant or failing that a beautiful picture.


Optic Flow


“The eyes are fundamentally the most powerful driver of what we think, what we feel, and ultimately what we can do, because they set the basic level of alertness or sleepiness.” Andrew Huberman


Studies show that when we move through space the movement of looking forward and things passing by your eyes in the peripheral vision calms your nervous system down.


“When you move through space, whether walking, running, or driving, you’re in what’s called optic flow. Things are moving past your retina at varying speed, depending on how fast you’re moving, but your brain has knowledge of how fast you’re moving. It cancels out the movement in a way that says, okay, these objects aren’t moving past me. I’m moving past them. All of this boils down to a set of circuits in the brain and body that make it so that when we’re moving through space, it has this property of relaxing us and giving us a sensation that is somewhat rewarding. And so what this translates to is at least once a day, get out and move. Optic flow doesn’t have to be fast. It can be at slow speeds. Ideally, it’s variable speeds, but this, I believe, underlies the sensation, the both calming and invigorating and kind of replenishing feelings that we get from taking a bike ride or a long run or swimming, for that matter.” https://findingmastery.net/andrew-huberman/


Practise patience


When we put aside our desire for immediate gratification and allow ourselves the time for things to unfold ‘as they should’ rather than as we think that they ‘ought’ to we develop a greater depth of understanding and wisdom.


Quiet


“Every moment of quiet time that you find to replenish your spirit

will bear fruit a thousand times over” Alan Cohen


Modern technology presents challenges the brain has not faced before therefore it is important to step outside the busyness thrown at us 24/7 from all directions creating a near-constant sensory overload. It is important to make a conscious effort to quieten our mind, giving ourselves time for contemplation and reflection so that we can recharge our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual batteries.


Routines


The mind is a powerful tool and it can hinder us or helps us. Our brain undergoes changes with or without our conscious knowledge so it is important that we control and set the direction for these changes.


“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

Tony Robbins


The plasticity of the brain works both ways; so bad habits can be ingrained as easily as helpful ones. Also, if we do nothing, apathy or negative choices will by default work against us.


When we create routines, we have less decisions to make during the day. Intentional habits reduce the amount of energy we expend and frees up space in our minds to concentrate on more important tasks.


Self-awareness


“When we identify and take pride in our strengths, we can open our eyes more clearly to the realities of our current situation and empower ourselves to act and enact change,”

Alexis Conason


Self-awareness brings confidence. By taking the time to identify our core strengths (and weaknesses) and better understand them, it helps to provide us with the background knowledge we require to make informed choices and for us to move forward to get the best out of life and create the future that we want.


Thoughts


“You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just have to stop them controlling you”

Dan Millman


We all have idle stray thoughts on all sorts of subjects but these are not the problem. We create our lives with the thoughts which are persistent and to which we give the most attention. We can’t stop ourselves experiencing negative thoughts, but we can practise distancing ourselves from them and reframing them.


Uplifting


“Laughter is like an instant vacation.” Milton Berle


Focus on things that uplift you and spend time doing or watching things make you laugh. Comedy and laughing releases dopamine into your body which lowers cortisol (stress) levels in your blood

“Laughter is the physical manifestation of finding something funny, and it can help to reduce inflammation and stress hormones, improve circulation, and enhance the immune system.” Heidi Hanna


Vitamins


Consider getting blood tests to check your vitamin levels. A lot of people are deficient in e.g. Vitamin B and Vitamin D particularly. A few changes of diet, or supplements, getting out into the sun more etc can make a huge difference to your energy levels and this will have a knock on effect on how you manage your day


Willpower


“Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.” Travis Bradberry


It is not easy to be consistently calm. We need to have willpower and act with deliberate determination. Determination requires action not just intention. When you want something bad enough, you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve it and you are aware that you must take time and make an effort to achieve something worthwhile.


"Success is the result of clear goal, unshakable confidence, proper planning, enthusiastic ACTION and consistent persistence." James Caan


be Xenacious (someone yearning for change)


“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” Max de Pree


Change begins with ourselves. If we talk to ourselves negatively and focus on all the things that we perceive as going wrong in our lives, our negative-based language will contribute to dragging us in a downward spiral. If, on the other hand, the words we use are positive and uplifting, and we have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ and focus on the things that are good and positive in our lives, the way we interact with others and the responses we get in return will be entirely different and we will be responding from a completely different state


Yoga


“The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin”.

Rachel Brathen


The aim of Yoga is to realize the true nature of our 'Self' and the Universe so we can become free from everything that hinders us.


The postures of yoga were each created for a specific health purpose. To detoxify, realign musculature, strengthen muscle, and create flexibility. If yoga is not for you there are also other more gentle forms of moving meditation


Zen


“Zen lives in the present. The Whole teaching is: how to be in the present; how to get out of the past which is no more and how not to get involved in the future which is not yet, and just to be rooted, centred, in that which is.” Osho.


Zen is a way of being. It is a state of focus that incorporates mind, body and spirit. It looks past illusions and is concerned with seeing things without any distortion added by your thoughts.


This state of Zen is something that already exists innately within each of us. You can’t avoid stress, but you can learn to slow down and find calm (Zen) amidst the chaos and enjoy the small things in life. A Zen state of mind allows you to be 100% present without guilt.


Some questions to think about/or discuss below:


What techniques do you use to replenish your reserves of calm ?

What things ruffle your feathers? How can you stop yourself from having the same responses?


If you want to reflect more on this subject, here are some links to get you started:


https://findingmastery.net/andrew-huberman/


Weightless 1 hour version


https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-creativity-cure/201402/how-be-calm-person


https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2019/05/30/how-to-de-stress-in-5-minutes-or-less-according-to-a-navy-seal/?sh=2dd43a073046


"Freedom doesn't mean the absence of all restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in the face of any obstacle." Daisaku Ikeda





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