CALM AROUND THE WORLD
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 BURNING OF ZOZOBRA
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.
KOMBOLÓI (WORRY BEADS)
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.