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Journey to Calm

By Cherie Binns
We are living in unprecedented times with a global pandemic, a contentious election cycle and a resurgence of racial unrest. These are troubled times for most of us and it can be difficult to maintain or even regain a sense of calm in all that hits us every day. Saturday was one of those days of struggle for me. It was chilly, cloudy, and crowded where we were so we got in the car and took a drive. My funk hung on even as I took pictures of the beauty around us as we drove. Sunday the sun shone and it was glorious. Then I looked at my photos and my spirits began to lift.

I have practiced mindfulness techniques off and on for several years now but, I admit, I don’t use those techniques as often as I probably should. I did not have a great understanding of what mindfulness was for a long time thinking it was akin to meditation. When I looked up the definition of “Mindfulness”, this is what I got: Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

With that in mind, I began to sit with my photos then focus how they made me feel. What was going on in my body as I was seeing them? What emotions were prominent or just below the surface? Music or sounds of nature are often paired with photos or videos to enhance the mindfulness experience but I often find music can be distracting if there are lyrics to a piece even if it is only an instrumental version of that song playing. My brain goes straight to using that soundtrack as a backdrop for lyrics to get into my head and derail the process. 

That said, when I get into a place like I was on Saturday, it can be hard for me to pull out of it without some effort. As these thoughts were playing around in my head, I began to look at other photos I had taken of places that mean something to me and tried to recall how I was feeling when I took them. As a result, I put together a slideshow of some of those scenes and share them with you now. Before you start to scroll through, get into a comfortable place, take a couple of nice deep slow breaths in and out and begin the journey.

If you would like to try some online mindfulness exercises, here are some links that you might enjoy.

May you use these photos, videos and tools on your own Journey to Calm and learn to expand and draw on them over time as you feel your calm retreating. I encourage you to revisit your old photos and recall the feelings and situations that led you to capture them and personalize your journey to calm.