The 3 keys to calm
How to easily connect to your inner truth to stay calm, learn self-trust and live with certainty. Janie Larmour guides us through the 3 keys to calm
In this uncertain year of 2020, imagine if you were able to connect to your deep truth where you knew the strength of your own power — you can with the three keys to calm. Imagine also, by knowing your own power, you felt more confident, grounded and centred — so much so you discovered that every answer to everything you ever need to know is already within you?
While we keep hearing ‘we’re all in this together’, many of us have never felt more alone. The good news is that connecting to our ‘self’ just takes a little bit of practice. All we need to do is to locate our centre, build deep core strength and learn to connect by focusing the breath and mind to our deep belly energy centre, often referred to as our lower tan tien, or ‘hara’.
The hara — the soft belly in the medical tradition of Japan — is often referred to by Taoists as the ‘seat of our soul’, thought to house all those answers you seek in times of fear, confusion and despair. The trick is to be able to access the hara by getting out of your head and into your body. A bonus is you will be able to achieve a sense of calm in an instant and therefore be able to manage anxiety and stress more effectively.
Unfortunately, our modern lives have shifted our energy into the upper body and the head, taking away our ability to stay grounded in the lower body, the core and the lower back — our centre.
Stress, computers, smart phones, increased workload, or even job loss, with the pandemic, coupled with the consumption of sugar and alcohol, makes the energy rise into our upper body causing over-thinking, worry, anxiety, panic attacks, headaches, neck and shoulder tension.
This results in a loss of connection to ourselves and the world around us. Building the energy in the lower body will help us alleviate many of these issues and help us establish our deep connection to our inner truth, deep in our hara.
The first step is to locate the hara and it’s usually easier for beginners to lie down. Place three fingers at the base of your navel and keep your third finger on your belly and bring your attention to this area and take your focus deeper within. Making tiny circles in a clockwise direction on this spot, three finger-widths below your navel, will help you connect to your hara. While you lie there taking your attention deeper below your finger, rather than the skin’s surface, try to expand the entire lower belly area with your breath. Next, to be able to really connect to this area, we need to build deep belly power and strength.
For strength in the hara, we need to build deep core strength. Boat pose is great for the core, however, let’s try this powerful Zen Ki Yoga deep core move to work your entire core and make your boat more powerful so you can hold it for longer. (See figs.1-5).
Squeeze your knee to your chest and take one leg to the ceiling locked out with feet pulled back, keeping the bent knee close to your chest using the belly muscles with hands interlaced behind your head and head on the floor. Make sure your toes are pulled back as that will ensure you’re working into your lower belly (toes forward will work up near your solar plexus, creating more emotional tension – the opposite of our goal). Exhale as you lower your straight leg to an inch off the floor and inhale lift it up. Repeat that 10 times, then hold the last one low near the floor and inhale to lift the straight leg two inches; exhale back to one inch and do these little pumps for 10 more with shorter sharper breaths (do 20 little pumps when you get stronger). Then pull the knees to your chest and hold them comfortably to rest before repeating this on the opposite side. The more deeply you can pull your bent knee to your chest, the deeper into your belly you will strengthen. Do this every day until it becomes easy.
Now we have strength, come back to locate the hara and spend some time breathing deeply into it. A great way to get a deeper breath without forcing it (which can make your breathing worse) is to take a deep breath out. Exhale as much breath as you possibly can, close your mouth, and then wait. Your body will breathe for you. There should be a natural pause after exhalation and then your body will inhale for you. We close the mouth so that we breathe through the nose. Nose breathing automatically takes the breath into the lower lobes of the lungs, making your diaphragm push downward, expanding your belly outward. On your exhale, your navel will move back toward the spine. Never force your breathing.
The more we learn to breathe and allow our belly to move with the breath, the more easily we can bring our mind into the belly. It might take a few weeks, but this understanding will happen if you do this work daily.
The more we can build attention to this area, the easier it will be to bring the mind into the belly so you can actually think from your belly. Did you know, we have the same cells in our brain as we do in our belly (our gut) that we think with? You can literally think from your gut. And you probably already know that your gut thoughts are always right. That’s because this is your truth.
Building this relationship with your belly with strength, breath and mind, will help you think from there and you will be able to get the answers you need from deep within yourself. You just need to practice and remember this in moments of need.
To progress and become an expert, continue this work lying down, then when you feel like you are connecting more easily, sit up and do the same: locate the hara with touch, breathe and bring your mind there.
Once you have that, get up and walk around and see if you can keep this connection.
When you’ve done this each day for 2-3 weeks, you will be able to use it within seconds. When you feel stress, put your finger to your hara and bring your mind and breath there and notice the immediate calm.
Once you become more experienced with this work, you will be able to ground and centre yourself faster and faster, and better handle life’s more stressful moments.
You really do have so much power within you: you just need to get in touch with it. The more you work with the three keys to calm, the more powerful your ability to attract your dreams with certainty (pandemic or not) and the greater your ability becomes to gain access to the answers you need from the universe when navigating your positive direction in life.
Janie Larmour is the founder of Zen Ki Yoga (zenkiyoga.com)
Over 26 years of experience in health and yoga, Janie developed the unique and effective Japanese style, Zen Ki Yoga.