Columns | Kane County Chronicle

Yo Joan! All is calm... except when it’s not

“What have you been doing lately,” he asks.

“Teaching meditation.” I respond.

“Oh,” he says, “I just yell to get it all out of my system.”

And I relate!

With the angst of COVID-19 times, political unrest, the busy struggles of family life and so many people going in different directions at different internet speeds, it’s enough to cause a swami meditating on a mountain top to pause and scream, STOP!

It’s clear to me when my meditation practice is strong and when it’s not.

Here are some examples of what happens when a meditation practice is weak:

1. Your voice rises significantly and no one around you is hard of hearing.

2. You start acting like Tarzan.

3. You find yourself using words that would shame your grandma and please a drunken sailor.

4. You drink too much caffeine and start shaking at the weirdest times.

5. A driver on the road cuts you off and you follow him blasting the horn like a lunatic.

6. You abruptly hang the phone up mid-conversation on someone who irritates you.

7. More people irritate you every day. In fact, who doesn’t?

What happens to you when you’re under stress? Can you add more to this lucky list of seven?

I’m not saying these seven charmers are all my personal experiences. However, if any were, I wouldn’t admit to them because grandma’s reading this. The ways you respond to your stressors are probably quite different than the ways I respond to mine. It’s all relative, depending, of course, on who your relatives are.

It’s the way stress is handled that gives each of us a glimpse into our individual personal health or the meditative level we’re at. For example, a trying situation could be handled quite admirably and other times handled in a way where a large rock is needed to crawl under afterward. A meditation practice is an effective way to navigate the stressors of life so fewer boulders are needed.

Basically, if you’re calm in choppy waters, either you’re clueless or something’s definitely going right.

So in rocky times when things are not going right, here’s a simple meditation exercise to consider:

Slow the breath down.

Release negative judgments with a long exhale.

Think: I’m not that thought

I’m watching my breath.

Slow the inhale down.

Slow the exhale down.

Watch the breath.

With continual practice of momentarily bringing the focus to your breath when under stress, you may actually find the Grrrrrrs transforming into Ahhhhhs.

If not this time, then next time.

And, one thing’s for sure: there’ll be a next time.

Joan Budilovsky can be reached at or her website.