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January 7, 2011 / Man in the Mirror

How to Find Quiet amidst Chaos?

I was once stuck in an airport in one of those exceptionally inconvenient flight-delay stories. Just as I became agitated at the level of absurdity that was being displayed by the airline’s policies, something happened: Many of the other passengers around me became far more agitated than I was, even furious. I saw grown men and women reduced to the behavior of pouting, snippy teenagers.  Seeing this calmed me right down.
I was determined not to become reactive like so many around me. It really hit home at that moment that we could be stuck in this airport and be angry, or we could be stuck in this airport and be happy. Either way, we were going to be stuck, and there was nothing we could do about it. I remembered that happiness is a choice, so, I chose to be happy. I sat down and began to read a book and soon felt quite content.
The undisciplined spirit does not act; it reacts. It succumbs to the emotions of others around him/her. Picture yourself going to a movie: If it is a comedy, you will laugh; if it is a tragedy, you will cry; if it is a thriller, you will become anxious. In all cases you are reacting to external stimulus. And it is the same outside the movie theater. If someone is angry toward you, you will become angry; if someone close to you is sad, you become sad. Your mind will also react to discomfort or pleasure in an automatic fashion. In this way you are like pinball machine: The ball hits a button and the button lights up and a lever is triggered.
Once conscious and aware of this phenomenon, you can learn to see choose your state of mind and emotions, rather than simply reacting to the world around you.
As Swami Satyananda so eloquently stated:
“There is no noise in the world.
There is no peace in the Himalayas.
Both are within you.”
In this sense, our goal and aim should be to become like the eye of the storm–still and quiet while the world and its chaos spins around us. You can’t control the storm, nor should you try. But finding that quiet within it–that’s the key to becoming nonreactive.
How to Become the Eye of the Storm:

  • Practice seeing circumstances as neither good nor bad, simply ~ what is.
  • Let go of demanding happiness in a certain form, and began to let Providence determine the form, always remember that one can be happy, or at least peaceful, regardless of one’s circumstances.
  • Remember that true quality of life has always been determined by the degree of your own inner peace and your ability to love and accept love.

Max Strom is a teacher, speaker, and author who teaches personal transformation and yoga. His latest book is “A Life Worth Breathing”. Please visit his website at


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