The Finding CALM Exercise

Last Winter, when the holiday rush was kicking into high gear, anxiety was really getting the best of me. It was the first Christmas in our new house and work at the studio was high intensity from the moment I arrived in the morning til the moment I left at the end of the day. After about a month of GO GO GO, I was beginning to unravel. After a gentle suggestion from my husband to do some journaling, this exercise came out of that dual handed journal session with my Creative Self to help me come up with a way to get out of a spiral of negative emotions. It has since become my go-to tool and is INCREDIBLY helpful in calming me down when I’m in a stressful situation.
Treasures are hidden within the feelings that we often try to talk ourselves out of. We are so quick to clothe our feelings in the first thought that pops in our head, like they are bearing themselves inappropriately and need to be covered, that we overlook their worth. Feelings are more valuable than we have been taught to believe. Rather than being something to turn away from, we should listen because feelings are the language of the soul.
Whenever you are experiencing an uncomfortable feeling - such as nervousness, anxiety, sorrow or frustration - implement the CALM activity.  When carried out with your full presence, this exercise offers an invitation to have an audience with the orator of that feeling.  It is an opportunity to ‘share space’ with a part of you that contains knowing beyond the reach of your ‘everyday’ mind.
DIFFUSING A CHARGE: The CALM Activity
C: Find a way – in this moment – to give yourself some CARE and nurturing. Rather than settling on an activity you plan to do later, such as ‘a hot bath when I get home’, choose something you can do for yourself now. If you can only take a few really deep and nourishing breaths at this moment, do it as an act of love and deep nurturing for yourself.
A: ALLOW yourself to feel however you are feeling. Acknowledge that feeling. Feelings are valid. You are not trying to fix anything in this moment. You are just bearing witness to a part of you that needs to feel acknowledged and heard without judgment.
L: give LOVE to the part of you that is asking for your attention. Like you would for a child who is feeling sad or scared or frustrated, offer your loving attention to the part of you that is feeling this way, without trying to fix anything. Just being fully present and available to yourself is a powerful thing.
M: bring your focus to this MOMENT. Ask yourself: is that which is making me feel this way actually happening in my immediate environment in this moment? Chances are, it's not. You may be facing a challenge that is somehow affecting your current reality, whether it be a relationship change, a health issue or financial challenges. If the only current effect is 'anxiety' or 'fear',about how this challenge may effect your future, and not an active and tangible change happening right here and now, then – in THIS MOMENT - it is simply an uncomfortable feeling that is asking to be given your loving attention.
Dual Handed Journal Activity
While imagining that this part of you - that is asking for your attention - has its own distinct consciousness, ask it the following questions. Write each question with your dominant hand and allow the feeling to respond through your non-dominant hand:
- To the part of me that now has my attention: what exactly are you feeling?
- Why are you sharing this feeling with me?
- What can I do to give you some care RIGHT NOW?
- How I can I help you move through this?
- How can you help me move through this?
If you would like to continue the dialogue beyond these five questions, GO FOR IT! Writing with your non dominant hand may feel weird. That's okay. Just do it anyway. Fortunately, the responses are usually very to the point. This Dual Handed Warm Up activity video I made a few years ago is a great way to prepare, and is a fantastic stress buster on its own. If you have never heard of dual handed journaling, read my blog post about it here.
This activity is also extremely helpful in moments when there is no crisis. It becomes an invitation to fully participate in the current moment. There is nothing your Innocence loves more than to be given your loving attention in a moment free of crisis. When a child is given loving attention when they are not lashing out, their need to lash out lessens.
I would love to hear your insights in the comments below from doing this exercise.


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