“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. ” -St. Francis de Sales:
About ten years ago, I was introduced to the work of a writer/healer/energy worker named Florence Scovel Shinn. Shinn, an artist and a metaphysician, was a force in the New Thought Movement, and she helped pave the
way for thinkers like Napoleon Hill. I have found great solace and inspiration in her teachings–which are straightforward and no nonsense; Shinn is efficient with words and astoundingly direct, and she presents spiritual principles in a way that is refreshing and simple.
One of the pillars of her teachings is a spiritual concept she calls poise. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines poise as “graceful and elegant bearing in a person–balance, equilibrium.” Poise is an energetic elixir that allows us to tap into our inner peace even in the face of chaos, turmoil, and uncertainty. Being poised allows us to bypass our ego minds, avoid the tidal wave of our emotions, access our inner wisdom, and sort through circumstances and situations with grace and peace.
While there is no exact recipe for developing poise, the following practices can certainly help:
How to Develop and Maintain Poise
Mystical poet Rumi advises, “Let the waters settle; you will see stars and moon mirrored in your being.” Fifteen minutes of stillness per day can help settle our waters. Fifteen minutes of silencing our ego chatter and calming our impulses can help bring our emotions into balance and cultivate a deeper mindfulness which helps us to be present in our lives. It can also help us hear the voice of Spirit. As the renowned spiritual teacher Paramahansa Yogananda proclaims, “Stillness is the altar of Spirit; where motion ceases, Spirit manifests.” Find a serene space, breathe deeply, quiet your mind, and lose track of time and of the world for just a little while each day. Make it a daily habit, and you will be surprised at how balanced and empowered you feel.
In his wildly popular book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz asserts: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally . . . nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” Taking things personally keeps our psyches riled up, prompting us to react instead of reflect and respond. When we take things personally, we tend to fall into attack and defense mode: We judge situations as good or bad, as for us or against us. It is our ego-mind, not our spiritual eye or higher mind, that keeps us in the personal. Ruiz asserts: “But if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.” Immunity in the middle of chaos–not buying into the hype and staying in a neutral mindset–can help us keep the peace inside.
A good friend of mine sets a specific intention each morning to take nothing personally–and she carries a QTip (Quit Taking it personally) in her purse to serve as a reminder to her throughout the day. You may find this technique helpful as well.
Affirmation Writing affirmations which focus on what we want is a very effective practice because it is a concrete and tactile way to get clear about what we want and then to focus on what we want. According to Abraham Hicks, “When you are writing, you are at the strongest point of focus that you can achieve with your conscious being.” Take the time, then, to get out your journal and write one—or both—of the following affirmations on poise offered by Shinn:
My ship comes in over a calm sea; poise and nonresistance are power.
I am now immune to all hurt and resentment; my poise is built upon a rock, the Christ within.
I write these affirmations in my prayer journal to point myself in the direction of the poise that I know is available to me, the poise that will allow me to feel peace in the face of adversity. I also meditate and practice depersonalization daily. While my efforts are not perfect, I am becoming far less affected by what is going on around me and in the lives of others and far more able to focus on what I want. I can at least step out of the whirlwind of life for brief periods of time–just long enough to catch my breath and get my bearing. Give it a try–it feels good.
And so it is.
Jill A. Lahnstein is a mother, a teacher, a writer, and a jewelry artist. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her teenage daughter Angel and their little canine sidekick Sunny. She has spent over 20 years teaching English to college students. Most of her experience has been with those students who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or disabled. She fervently believes that every moment–inside the classroom and outside the classroom–can be a healing moment.