As The World Turns: Chaos vs. Peace

 “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”  – Buddha

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
– Buddha

Who turned on the blender?

The world around us churns like a blender. Motion and commotion - the world spins on high speed morning, noon and night. We are confused, and strangely project that this worldly blender’s concoction fills us with feelings of power. We imagine ourselves in-control. We even lust for the world's predictable chaos and distraction. Until we don't anymore.

Can we slow down the blender we call daily life? Can we adjust the dial and make other choices? How about an On/Off pulse just to keep things interesting? What speed suits you?

What is chaos?

Our lives today are held hostage by louder and louder distracting noise and increasingly alluring visuals. We are running here, there and everywhere. And we still expect our bodies to keep up. We may even convince ourselves we enjoy the pressure. Yet our learning, productivity and relationships suffer.

Bottom line: We are unable to concentrate, and incapable of allowing fresh input to reset us on a course of sanity.

Julia, a mid-40s nurse, mother of two and wife, reports she is distressed and spiraling downward. The continuous demands of her job and home life leave little room for socializing with friends, romance or self-care.

The hospital continues to double-book appointments despite the department’s lack of staff. The nurses are scrambling to keep up with patient needs. There is barely time for a quality break because the pager goes off at anytime. Endless multi-tasking makes it harder and harder to stay calm, compassionate and kind. I’m exhausted trying to keep up with work, let alone the responsibilities at home.

My cell phone buzzes all day. The kids want food or need more supplies to complete their latest school projects. To share the runaround, I text my husband - but get no response. He claims his workplace has bad WiFi. He has stopped using his cell. I perform patient care in a frustrated state. I am completely distracted by all that’s happening around me.“The phone is with me everywhere. I barely rest or sleep. I can’t drop the seemingly never-ending weight on my shoulders. I even check my phone first thing in the morning to make sure nothing bad happened in the night.

In a rare moment when I am quiet and alone, I sense my spirit craves something different. Is it asking me to slow down? Get a new job? Go on vacation? Play hooky with my hubby? I’m unable to silence the mental noise. I long for answers.
— Julie

What is peace?

Rummaging through our junk drawer, we find the blender’s User Manual. Can we adjust it without outside help? We flip to “Troubleshooting” for answers. A Wellness Coach helped Julia decipher her personal User Manual. The coach selected chapter titles centered around peace. Are you serious? Peace in the User Manual? Is this what Julia needs? How is it possible to be peaceful in her jumbled, upside-down world? Julia's coach assigns her Chapters 1 through 3.

Chapter 1: *Reset To Default Settings.

Julia spent time identifying the type of chatter lurking in her mind and heart. She became aware and recorded the number her daily thoughts which were negative, confusing or overwhelming. It was critical to look at herself from this perspective.

What Julia noticed:

Worry: “I worry about everyone else’s needs. Who else will handle them? I don't even notice if I’m tired and beat down. If someone gets sick or unhappy it’s because I didn’t do enough.”

Anger: “I wish patients would stop paging me. I wish the hospital would hire more people. I wish I could shut down mean thoughts and judgments I have towards co-workers. I wish my husband would step up at home.”

Doubt: “Who would hire me? Am I really a good mother? I spend so much time at work and have no time or energy to help with homework. How dare my hubby ask me to the movies when the house is a wreck? How can he just walk away from it all?”

Chapter 2: *Clean Parts.

Julia reviewed her primary roles in order to de-clutter. She started a journal. Julia wrote:

Nurse
Pros
: help people in need, use skills/expertise, decent pay and benefits
Cons: understaffed, petty conflicts, long hours, no recognition

Mother
Pros: family I love who love me, kids depend on me
Cons: full schedule, high needs, no time for discipline or playtime

Wife
Pros: trusted and supportive partner, don’t feel alone/unwanted, father of my kids
Cons: won’t clean up, ignores my text messages and calls, no time for romance

Chapter 3: *Determine If Motor Is Broken.

Julia carefully observed her physical/emotional/mental/spiritual health. She completed questionnaires, spoke to her coach and learned she was burned out and in a frequent state of chaos. With her coach she completed the following roadmap to move from suffering to healing:

Physical
Walk towards
: walking for 20 minutes every day, yoga twice a week, building playtime with friends/family/hubby
Walk away from: not eating throughout the day, not drinking water, avoiding commitments to prevent further stress

Emotional
Walk towards
: responding to incoming experiences with an open mind and heart, thinking before speaking, generate daily feel good moments
Walk away from: reacting to incoming experiences with heat and fire, getting angry as the gut response, overdoing it

Mental
Walk towards: using phrases like “It’s okay.” or “It’s enough.” or “It’s temporary.”
Walk away from: worries and judging about being needed, doing a bad job or not being enough

Spiritual
Walk towards
: trusting and forgiving self, believing in self, breath work
Walk away from: lack of spiritual practice or awareness of spiritual self