Excerpt: Finding Peace in Difficult Times

This is an excerpt from Finding Peace in Difficult Times by Divya Kohli. Available now in ebook format, exclusively on the Watkins Publishing website (£4.99). Available on Amazon from June 9th.

Mental, physical and emotional overwhelm, distraction, device addiction, sleep deprivation, information overload and feeling unable to switch off are conditions symptomatic of the modern age. The good news is that there is growing awareness about this and more and more people are seeking ways to address these states of being in their personal lives.  

Finding Peace in Difficult Times meets the widespread and growing need in our busy modern lives for strategies to manage attention and to be able to live life on your own terms. The ebook shows how we can create deep reserves of resilience for the challenging times we are currently in. 

Chapter 4

Tension Tamers

Tap in to See You Through

In a state of tension, it’s hard to be present – but it is possible. Tension blocks presence as it constricts us inside. When our body and emotions are squeezed, so is our life view in that moment. Tension can obscure our perspective, impact our breathing and unbalance the nervous system.

While physical and emotional tension is as much a part of life as it is human physiology – how would we move, breathe, speak or feel without parts of us tensing? – too much of it, or too prolonged periods of tension, take its toll.

Each of us has an in-built stress response system that keeps us alive, alerting us to risks to our safety and that of others, so we can do something or react in a positive way. The same system gets us moving, creating and achieving. In psychology, they call this the drive mode.

This model has a gear for putting us into balance and returning us to a state of being. This is a place of relative equilibrium felt in body and mind. Sticking with the car analogy, when you tame tension you go from “drive” mode into “being”. With practice, you can learn to shift the gears of your inner stress response system at will – rather than external factors in life determining the gears for you.

The following exercises are designed to Tame Tension and create a more optimal environment for “being” to occur. If they don’t immediately get you to that place of balance they will lessen the squeeze that constricts and blocks the pathway to it. When we learn and practise how to shift our inner gears, we will experience more moments of calm and be less controlled by stress or tension.

Tension Soother I

Acknowledging you are tense is a practice in itself. This is the beginning of any attempt to lessen tension. Once you realise you are tense, notice exactly where you feel this in your body.

Typically, where we tighten in our body is in the face, jaw, around the eyes, shoulders and belly. You might also feel tense in your back, throat, hands, neck, ankles and feet. Just notice. Wherever you feel the gripping or tightness. Then breathe in and breathe out.

Now guide your breath specifically to one of those places in your body where you are feeling tension, and imagine you are breathing in and gently through the tension that is there.

If that feels too difficult, breathe around the spot of it. Imagine a circle around the area of tension and you are gently expanding and contracting that circle with your breath.

Gradually expand your awareness from that place into your whole body. Spread your breath to fill the outline of your physical frame. Breathe like this a few times.

Then relax and be as you are. Observe if anything has shifted. You might feel lighter, more spacious and less caught in tension.

If you don’t feel an immediate shift, at least you had the capacity to be and breathe with the tension for a while; you can take that achievement into the rest of your day.

Finding Peace in Difficult Times by Divya Kohli. Available now in ebook format, exclusively on the Watkins Publishing website (£4.99). Available on Amazon from June 9th.