CARM your State of Mind

By Fraser Duff, Managing Director

Take a moment to look at and gaze into these images, allowing your mind to reflect on what’s there. Search the images a little deeper, and allow your thinking to absorb the detail and just relax, blocking out other thoughts.

In times of stress, adversity or even when you are experiencing negative emotions, it helps when you have the ability to positively focus your mind and block out negative thinking and noise that inevitably impacts upon our mood.  

Over the years we have learnt and developed a very simple yet effective technique to help you with this process.  It is a technique that is very much derived from meditation and achieved through repeating a calming mantra.

We use the words/mantra “STAY CALM” and we say these words silently to ourselves over and over again.  (About 15 – 20 times in one minute).  This simple yet effective mantra has a very strong and positive influence on our state of mind.  It helps to reassure the mind both consciously and sub consciously and the body that everything is OK resetting the stimulation from the Amygdala if you like. 

This technique can be used to overcome strong negative feelings such as ANGER or FEAR and the impact these emotions have on our feelings. 

Not only is this a useful technique when you are confronted or challenged by some else’s behaviour or where you may be experiencing resistance, aggression or hostility but it’s also a very useful technique for engaging wellness in your life. 

From situations where your children are misbehaving and you feel your levels of frustration rising.  Or situations where you are caught in slow traffic and running late for an appointment.  Or it may just be the case that your tolerance levels are low and you don’t have much left in the emotional tank to offer anyone.  Either way it’s helpful to practice this calm state of mind.

We use the words “STAY CALM” which for us is synonymous with a “calm state of mind and a calm way of behaving”. These words when surfaced to a conscious level in the mind and repeated slowly over and over again help to manage the emotional impact of anxiety, anger and fear, because it helps focus the mind and helps block the impact of the negative feelings.

To help you imprint this technique in your mind, take a moment do the following exercise, first:-

  1. Find a quiet, restful place and sit down in a chair away from distractions;
  2. Relax your body, shoulders, face muscles and unfold your arms and uncross legs;
  3. Close your eyes for a moment and just sit peacefully;
  4. Now take a moment to think back to a time when you experienced something that made you feel calm and relaxed.

    Importantly you may recall somewhere you’ve been, something you’ve seen… a beautiful place or a wonderful experience you’ve had with others.  Whatever it is, when you think about it and visualise it, it makes you feel CALM. 

    Some personal experiences from Fraser Duff, Managing Director

    From a personal perspective I recall vivid imagery from a recent trekking trip in the highlands of Tasmania (see the photo above).  In using this technique I can vividly remember some of the spectacular and beautiful wilderness scenes.  At other times I might visualise my young children asleep in bed and the peaceful, tranquil innocence on their faces. Or sometimes I may recall what it was like to hold my children for the very first time after their birth.  These are unique and wonderful experiences in one’s life that we associate with positive powerful emotional feelings.

  1. Now really visualise this image, vividly remembering what it was like, how it looked, what you heard and what you felt at the time. Indulge yourself in this vision and remember the positive feelings you experienced and keep this firmly front of mind.

It’s important that you associate this experience and visualisation with what makes you feel CALM and RELAXED.

Now, when you say to yourself slowly and repeatedly the words, “STAY CARM” you have linked the word CARM to positive feelings via the experience you have imprinted in your memory.

Note: If you are experiencing difficulty visualising something relaxing, then take a moment to have a look at these wonderful photographs by Grant Dixon a wilderness photographer in Tasmania.  You can visit his website via the following links and enjoy some the tranquil / peaceful images of the Tasmanian wilderness.  

I recently had someone on a training program say, “how can you possibly use this under duress?  When are you going to have time to think, let alone say, stay calm?  I don’t think you would actually have the time to do it”?

A Few Personal Experiences – (from the author)

I simply suggested that from my own personal experiences it’s one of the most important and positive things you can do……to focus the mind away from negative emotions.  By surfacing these words to a conscious level in your mind, it can make an enormous difference to your state of mind and how you behave.  I then gave three very specific examples in my life where I have been overwhelmed by fear and I’ve had the time to use this technique.

  1. Once when I was swimming off the back of a yacht near Port Douglass and my wife saw a very large dark object swim quickly underneath the boat. She hysterically yelled out to me those words you never want to hear when you’re in the ocean swimming, “SHARK”.  A word so powerful that it conjures up fear immediately in the mind.  The only positive thing I could do to help myself was to control the fear now dominating my mind.I took control of my emotions by repeating to myself in a slow and controlled manner “Stay Calm, Stay Calm, Stay Calm”.  I then asked my wife to throw me the facemask from the back of the boat so I could put my head underwater and orientate myself towards the potential threat.  I then cautiously swam back to the boat and whilst doing so I did observe a very large dark shape dart about 30 meters below me.  I later contemplated from the deck of the boat that this may have been a sail fish……but we’ll never really know.

  2. When I was much younger I was taught free fall parachuting in the army and this is where I was introduced to the concept of positively focusing your mind and the words stay calm.

In qualifying we had to jump out of a C130 transport aircraft at 14,000 feet and land on an oval in the middle of Mosman.  This was very challenging as its a drop zone with many manmade obstacles including roads, cars, powerlines and houses, not to mention the trees etc.  Any mistake could have serious consequences for the parachutist.  There were 5 of us including one 1 instructor on the jump.  I strongly remember the words even now going through my mind whilst I standing on the ramp of the aircraft waiting to jump…..”Stay Calm, Stay Calm, Stay Calm……..” this mantra was forefront of my mind and helped me to overcome the anxiety and stress that I was experiencing in the plane and thankfully prepared me for a successful and safe landing.

  1. My other more recent and noticeable experience happened when I was having an MRI scan on my back. I’m quite claustrophobic as life would have it and being strapped down onto a sliding board and pushed into a machine through a long narrow tunnel where my shoulders were being squeezed is a very frightening experience for someone suffering claustrophobia. Fear rises up suddenly and grips your whole body.  My defences were again to control my thoughts through focussing on the words  “Stay Calm,  Stay Calm, Stay Calm”.  I closed my eyes and kept focussed and thirty long minutes later I came out of the MRI machine in good order.

The best way to experience the positive difference it can make is to “TRY IT” along with our CARM breathing techniques.  You have everything to gain……