Is it possible to feel calm in the fast-paced digital age? Yes, says TV star Fearne Cotton
How can we feel calm when chaos seems to slip its way through every crack in our personal boundaries? Is there time to breathe when we are face to face with work deadlines, children’s activity schedules, pressurised social lives and outside expectations?
This is modern life. We are all, on some level, sucked into its messy vortex and churned out the other side with tired eyes and many unanswered questions.
It may feel like we have to go against the grain in our chaotic, fast-paced modern world to find calm, but it is completely doable. The starting point is realising that we don’t have to keep up with the speed of it all, we don’t have to facilitate stress every day and we don’t have to live up to the expectations of others. Finding calm is a personal project that has to work for you.
Whilst writing my previous book, HAPPY, I pondered the subject of calm a lot. I thought about its relationship with happiness and how the two states might help each other out. I realised that calm is such an important part of the overall equation if we want to live a happy and peaceful life. It is the nucleus of it all, because if we are calm we have clarity, we can react to situations from a grounded place and we can open our hearts even wider with trust.
The human race has had to take on so much change in the last century. We are constantly on show nowadays, voyeuristically taking snatches of each other’s lives. Technology, the way we view success and what we think we want out of life are all sucking us from our natural roots and catapulting us into a hurricane of sometimes destabilising chaos.
With calm comes contentment, or happiness – or perhaps a bit of both. Or, wait . . . does happiness bring the calm? And, are either of these delicious states able to exist without the other? I’m pretty sure that you can feel completely happy yet quite frantic and het up, as I have at many times in my life – those rollercoaster peaks where you could scream because you’re so overjoyed. Calm might not be present at all in these moments! I’m also certain that you can feel very calm yet perhaps slightly numb or emotionless at times, too, for instance when life feels slow-paced and uneventful and sits somewhere in the middle. I’ve experienced these calm moments that aren’t necessarily connected to happiness on many occasions.
But I’m also sure that together they can be something quite beautiful, and it doesn’t matter if happy brings the calm or vice versa, they are a dual goal to have in mind and they often come in tandem.
I didn’t write my new book CALM because I have the meditation prowess of a Tibetan monk or because I walk around, peace fingers aloft, smiling serenely at strangers. I wrote it because I understand the extreme power and value that calm can bring, and because on a daily basis I endeavour to choose calm over stress. At times, I feel galaxies away from calm’s comforting arms and wonder if I’ll ever scramble back to them again, but it is a state that I’m desperately eager to learn more about.
In CALM I am honest with and about myself so I can try to mine a little deeper into calm’s riches to benefit myself and hopefully you, too. I’ve spent the same amount of time meditating and doing yoga as I have hurling short rants of road-rage and throwing inanimate objects at walls in toddler-style tantrums. I believe there is room for all these emotions, but using calm as a base to come back to is imperative. The more I understand the importance of calm for our minds, general wellbeing, relationships and outlook on the world, the more time I spend trying to route back to it.
Some of us might already know our own personal road back to calm – how to breathe deeply when panicked, or can feel completely at peace in rush hour or at a busy train station. I haven’t mastered this in all areas of my life yet, but it’s something I’m constantly working at and it has become one of my main goals in life. As birthdays have passed and drama has stampeded through sections of my story, I have recognised how much energy and time I have lost to stress, muddled thoughts and tangled words.
For me, it’s less about thought and much more about feeling. It is a stillness that allows my lungs to expand like hot air balloons. It is an acceptance of the noise around me and having the ability to not label each distraction with a negative or positive. It is seeing the world turning and the chaos entering then departing with an instant acceptance. This doesn’t mean that I feel okay about injustice, unbidden drama or negative words, it’s just these events give me a chance to feel empathy rather than resentment.
Calm is omnipresent and ever-glowing, just waiting for us to remember its truth and power. We can all learn how to lock into our own inner calm a little more frequently.