Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

When did not be­ing calm earn brag­ging rights? These days in Western cul­ture, it’s con­sid­ered a badge of hon­our to be busy, stressed and un­avail­able. But there’s a resurg­ing call to step away from our whirl­winds of busy-ness and learn some se­crets of seren­ity that are prac­tised by other cul­tures.

Here are some lessons in calm from around the world, and how they can be in­cor­po­rated into your ev­ery­day life.


The word “zo­zo­bra” means anx­i­ety or an­guish in Span­ish, and burn­ing the mar­i­onette sym­bol­ises de­stroy­ing the anx­i­eties and an­guishes of the past year. Lo­cals write down their wor­ries on slips of paper and deliver them to the lo­cal news­pa­per. These are put in a spe­cial box and burned along with Zo­zo­bra be­fore a cheer­ing crowd. Do this at home: You don’t need a gi­ant Zo­zo­bra. Throw a bon­fire party and in­vite your friends to toss pa­pers ex­press­ing their wor­ries into the flames. Or, for a less dra­matic cleans­ing, give your home a on­ceover and trash any­thing neg­a­tive.


Imag­ine a Greek cafe full of se­nior gen­tle­men sit­ting con­tent­edly all day – a study in seren­ity. They have an en­vi­ably un­ruf­fled aura, per­haps due to the idyl­lic Mediter­ranean vis­tas they gaze upon. In their hands they hold kombolói (worry beads), and their fin­gers rest­lessly count and flick the beads.

In Greece, these beads serve no re­li­gious func­tion, but are sim­ply a pleas­ant arte­fact to hold and fid­get with, in or­der to keep the hands oc­cu­pied. Do this at home: Get yourself a set of these kombolói and be re­minded of the sense of touch. The tex­ture of olive wood, am­ber or glass beads across the palm and the fin­ger­tips, and the clack­clack as you flick the beads are sen­sa­tions to be savoured. Fo­cus­ing on the sense of touch as you ca­ress the beads al­lows a re­con­nec­tion with the tan­gi­ble, with the here and now.

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