Why do we always hear the “calm before the storm” rather than the calm after?
I actually started thinking about this because of an actual storm. We had a fairly severe thunderstorm here the other day, complete with a few tornadoes. (There was some damage, but no major injuries were reported, thankfully!) Anyway, this happened all while I was teaching class at North Carolina State University. It was my summer school Aerobics & Body Conditioning class, but I always do one day of yoga in this course, and that day happened to be our scheduled “Power Yoga” class.
More regularly, I teach Zumba during this class, and at first thought, that would have seemed a better choice for a time when we could hear all the loud noises of thunder, rain, and wind right outside our windows. I found, however, once we began our yoga practice, the environment seemed to call for that to be the focus of the day. I wouldn’t say we forgot about what was happening outside the building, but we certainly cultivated a safe, serene, and calm environment within our aerobics room. (Yes, it is helpful to remember, too, that we were in an aerobics room – rather than a dedicated yoga space. Three of the four walls are mirrored, and the space is full of speakers, weights, steps, and other fitness equipment. But none of that seemed to matter once we began.)
After class ended, students checked their cell phones to find texts from roommates saying things were ok, but many were out of power at their apartments and homes. Everyone dispersed – I really believe a bit slower than usual – to start their journeys home. (The storm had come and passed entirely during our class.)
On my own drive home, I felt my sense of calm slipping away as I encountered far too many hurried and angry drivers, refusing to slow down (and treat as four-way stops) the multiple stoplights out of power. I kept asking myself why do those drivers assume whatever way they are driving is the most important? Why is the route of that car on the side road of less importance? (And are you really ok with the possibility of causing harm to someone else just because you are so hurried and narcissistic?)
Finally, I make the almost-last turn on my way home; the final mile of my drive consists of a winding road, flanked by houses and horse farms. I notice the sky at this point, and see that it is clearing. Some clouds still linger, but they are jut hanging in the sky – peacefully bringing a dash of deep blue-gray into the landscape. I came back to the feeling I found during that yoga practice; I found the calm after the storm.
So, what does this mean besides the literal? I take it to mean we shouldn’t always anticipate the next storm in our lives. When you find a sense of calm, don’t assume it will be disrupted with a storm. Even beyond that, when you find yourself dealing with a storm – any tough time in your life – remind yourself that you can find that calm after the storm. No matter the degree of hardship or the amount of anger you have in one moment, know you can get to a peaceful, calm state in the very next moment.
As much as all yogis like to encourage everyone to live in the moment, I’ll encourage you to maybe today take just a short glance back. Glance back at the storms you’ve been through in your life, and then take a breath in. Exhale and feel gratitude of the calm you’ve been able to find after those storms. And if you feel you haven’t quite found the calm yet, just keep breathing (and maybe do some yoga). It will come.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Find peace.