August 11, 2018

How to Live a Zen-like Existence even when Life feels Chaotic.

“Peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no trouble, noise, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart” ~ Lady Gaga


Registering for gadgets and gizmos for a baby shower before the birth of my first child overwhelmed me.

I stood at the little, local store numb. Many women had shared their favorite finds and encouraged me to get them, too. I remember sitting down in a nursery glider to get a mental grip. 

One necessity in particular made no sense to me: a white noise machine. 

Why on earth would I want to waste electricity on a noisemaker? It didn’t play soothing wave sounds or music, it made the awful sound televisions used to make when they were stuck between channels. This loud static was to help a child sleep?

To me, it was a headache waiting in a box with a price tag on it. I started to question my friend’s sanity. It was a firm, “No, thank you,” from me.

As time marched on, I gave birth to more children. None of them had the “luxury” of a white noise machine. They slept as all children do, some days miraculously through the night, and others teething and fussing their sweet faces off. We survived without it.

Back then, my alone time was whittled down to moments like standing in a long checkout line. Those huge “we sell everything under one roof!” kind of stores served as my savasana.

I was mentally exhausted from parenthood, but proud that I knocked off my list at one stop. It was a small victory. I allowed myself to completely space out while standing there. It was common to hear a snappy, “Ma’am? Excuse me, ma’am?” before I’d snap out of it. Afterwards, I felt refreshed, like I had just woken up from a nap.

What was it about those big box stores that allowed me to drift off into a zen-like state?

The white noise.

The buzz and hum of life vibrated a sweet lullaby. My thoughts stopped. I couldn’t tell you what happened during those minutes, because nothing happened. I just stood there. It was my peaceful haven.

My attitude inverted when I snapped back to reality. Suddenly, I was smiling and chatty. I had rested and felt joyful—and it was contagious. My grin brought gladness from those around me. It was that simple.   

As the saying goes, “In the midst of chaos, find peace.” And I did. 

Did I regret not buying a white noise machine for my children? No.

Yet, did I regret scoffing off my friend’s suggestion? Yes.

Since then, times have changed. My children are at school, work, or practices most of the day leaving me with plenty of alone time. I can even nap, if I need one.

However, the lesson I learned in those earlier days stuck with me. While waiting in line, a stop light, or for anything:

Be still and rest,

Return to the joyful noise refreshed, and share the feeling.

Need some peace now? Try it.

Share how you find peace in the midst of chaos. We look forward to hearing from you.







author: Kate Fleming

Image: M. Frascella/Flickr

Editor: Lieselle Davidson

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Mark Steed Aug 13, 2018 2:07pm

I have found that trying to acheive a semi-meditative state in times of stress is unhelpful in the long run. It's a long story.. What I found was that it's basically the same thing as self hypnosis and when we do that under stress we can imprint all kinds of self destructive things into the mind. As I get older I find that it works better for me to look honestly at my investment in the "me story" as it relates to whatever drama I seem to find myself at any given moment. We are always defining what things and situations mean. When the ego gets involved with the definition of the drama then suffering is a real possibility. But, the whole story is false.. That's the rub. Our me story is false and when we think it's real we have all kinds of issues. Thanks for the discussion.

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Kate Fleming

Kate Fleming is an artsy, toe tappin’, dog snuggling, linguistics lovin’ liberal (but sometimes conservative) mom, a trusted friend, and a servant to the greater good. By sharing personal and professional experiences from chapters in her life, readers get a glimpse of raw lessons from real experiences. Find Kate somewhere outside, read her articles here on elephant journal, or connect with her on Instagram or Facebook.