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A bubble of stimulation
Most people exist in a bubble. They wake in their own home, get into their car and then go to work/shops/wherever. There is seldom any time spent being calm.
Homes, cars and public places are usually filled with noise and stimulation. Visual images, flickering screens, twittering voices, gossip... Where is the peace in your life? The stillness?
There are quiet places to be found in every city and every town. You just have to seek them out. Lost places, where people seldom go. Leaves overgrown the streets and wildflowers are abundant.
Nature flourishes. The air is cleaner and there are no cars and few people.
Seek out the calm
Finding quiet places requires some degree of effort. They may be subject to time, day or season. You might need to get up very early or stay up very late. These places can be found.
In order to find these places, you must slow down. You must want to step off the treadmill, into the shade and find peace.
The first indication of a calmer mind lies in your capacity to notice the world around you. Instead of driving past in your noisy car, you walk slowly. You see.
Insignificant-seeming things catch your attention: a butterfly, a leaf, a flower, the sound of an insect or the call of a bird. If you experience genuine awe and delight, then you are learning.
Only when your mind is clean
are you in a suitable state to read books and study the ancients
If you do not commit time to calming activities and rest, your mind may never know stillness. Even in the midst of stunning beauty and peace, tranquillity will elude you.
Invest in loss
To find calm places you need to become a little lost yourself. Not lost in drink, drugs, illusion or stimulation. Quite the opposite. You will need your wits about you.
You need to step off the familiar pathways of your life and walk somewhere different.
Find the calm
There are calm places to be found in every town. A tai chi class is a good example. Calm voices, settled emotions and an atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie will be immediately apparent.
This may feel most unfamiliar to you, odd even. Don't panic. Give yourself time to adjust to something different. Just stay with it and enjoy. A feeling of serenity and peace may settle upon you.
Tai chi creates a situation where your attention is absorbed with where you are and what you are doing, so the mind becomes quieter automatically.
Unlike concentration, you allow the mind to open and become expansive. You feel, hear and see everything around you. The chattering of your thoughts will begin to fade.
It is good to talk, yet talking is also a problem. If your mind is never still and quiet, you cannot possibly feel relaxed and at peace.
For many people talking is a compulsive habit, serving to mask the anxiety within. Without the chatter, people feel alone and isolated.
A calmer mind?
Most people have minds that are like adverts chattering noisily: worrying, flitting and unsettled. Qigong and tai chi slowly encourage you to become quieter inside.
By moving slowly and calmly, you are aware of what is happening as it happens.
Freedom from stress
A tai chi class is a quiet place, yet somehow neither boring nor lacking in stimulation. There are no mobile phones, no TV screens, no computers, no concerns, worries or deadlines.
Instead, you can relax, let go and get some much needed 'me' time.
When the incessant noise and distraction ends, you will start to feel different. Tai chi will assist you in becoming quiet inside.
Week in, week out, people attend tai chi classes. The instructor is always friendly. The lessons are always stimulating. Your fellow students are always courteous, well mannered and nice.
Your personal life may be in turmoil, your work life may be tedious or disappointing, yet tai chi class remains a constant: comfortable, familiar, friendly and fun.
Instead of being met by rivalry, one-upmanship and stress, you encounter friendship and warmth.
Many people are so uncomfortable in the absence of noise that they will leave the television on even when no one is watching.
I have passed people on lonely mountain paths carrying radios that were blasting out rock music. They like the scenery but fear the silence.
We are overwhelmed by noise pollution which keeps us from being able to relax and which wreaks havoc on our nervous system.
Page created 22 January 1994
Last updated 16 June 2023