“The Calm Within the Storm”

With “Superstorm Sandy” making its way over the U.S. and a literally shaking, yet water-free apartment, I’ve been trying to avoid the hurricane porn on TV while staying informed. Waiting out hurricanes and tropical storms is something I grew up with, though after Hurricane Irene threatened NYC, my dreams and waking hours were filled with anxiety for the following week. I had saturated myself with the round the clock coverage, the measurements, maps and comparisons. I was not fearful at the time, just trying to do what I was supposed to do to be prepared after the cupboard was stocked and the bathtub was filled.

This time around I’m trying to do things differently. I am shocked by the unprecedented weather events and damage in Manhattan, the boroughs, and across the country as we’ve just begun to feel the effects. I find the need to focus my energy toward the people who need the most strength at this time. In the midst of the gusts and chaos, this feels like the perfect time to draw inward and find the calm and relaxation that can always be there.

Actor and all-around crazy guy, Bill Murray, seems to think relaxation is key to almost everything. He explained recently in a live Q & A for Hyde Park on Hudson how he finds relaxation through golf and applies this to his life and work. “When you are relaxed there’s no room for tension. Tension is what makes us speak,” he told us. But as you relax all of that goes away. When you’re relaxed …everything…slows down. And you can just …be.

Really, Mr. Bill Murray is the most relaxed guy I have ever seen. And his work in Hyde Park on Hudson is absolutely stunning. I’ve watched some exceptional stage and film performances recently, and experienced the undercurrent of what is constantly running through frenetic, emotional, explosive expression. While being completely free there is a relaxation that grounds it. Light bulb! It is the relaxation and the breath that anchors a performance rather than any element of control, or repetition which results in stale, self-conscious performances. And I’m learning how that comes through a relaxation practice.

One of my favorite yoga teachers says, “It’s hard to imagine a peacefulness of any kind in the world and in our lives if we can’t find it within ourselves.” It’s a mantra I’ve started to take with me in my work, play, and now during the superstorm. Peace and relaxation are very powerful. And they’re always there, you just have to clear away the other things that aren’t actually useful. What do you do to find peace, relaxation, and the calm within the storm?

For what came after the storm read NYC – Part 1: What is it about you?

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