Today we ask that you meditate on effective ways to restore calm and sanity in the face of an insane world.

Much of what most people take in, via the news, electronic media, or through their friends and families is panic inducing.  Everything is a cause for fear and panic.  The world is doomed, the country is doomed, everyone is doomed.

No wonder everyone is half-mad, going around thinking thoughts like that.

Unfortunately, panic breeds panic.  Stress breeds stress.  The more you panic about things, the more you create panic-inducing events in your life.  For example, panicking because you are running late to an event can directly cause you to make poor decisions that will wind up with you arriving even later.  Panicking about doing things the wrong way actually makes you more prone to making errors.

On the whole, unless King Kong is running toward you, panic is a useless response.  How often in your modern lives is a “fight-or-flight” actually needed?  Yet many people live as if King Kong is about to smash them at any moment.

Once the “panic” reaction begins, it can be very difficult to defuse it.  This is why it is useful to practice techniques when you are not in a fearful, panicky state that will help you calm down when panic arises.  The key is not to react in such a way that will make matters worse, as panic almost always does.

Here are two effective tools:

The first is to take ten slow, deep breaths, counting each breath.  This restores balance to the adrenalized brain and body, allowing space for clear thought to occur.

The second is a technique to use if you are witnessing another person panicking.  A very effective way to disrupt the panic pattern is to do something very silly.  Make a silly face and jump on one foot.  Make silly noises.  Be like a character in a Monty Python skit. 

This will startle the other person out of the panicked state.  As soon as the person smiles or laughs, the panic is essentially over.

It is good to practice these techniques in advance.

Again, unless Godzilla is coming toward you breathing fire, please know that panic is not a useful response to 99%  of stressful events.