Finding Calm In The Storm

A little more than 10 years ago, I attended a meditation retreat for 10 days of silence. It was life-changing, to say the least, and I will never forget the lessons that I left with. The rules were basic: no speaking, no writing, no eye contact. That also included no access to your cellphone and about 8-10 hours of meditation daily. The funny thing was that I went with a close friend of mine at the time and it was really odd not even acknowledging him. I couldn't remember the exact schedule, but this one looked familiar:

4:00am: Wake-up Bell

4:30am — 6:30am: Meditate

6:30am — 8:00am: Breakfast

8:00am — 11:00am: Meditate

11:00am — 1:00pm: Lunch

1:00pm — 5:00pm: Meditate

5:00pm — 6:00pm: Tea

6:00pm — 7:00pm: Meditate

7:00pm — 8:15pm: Lecture

8:30pm — 9:00pm: Meditate

10:00pm: Lights Out

Fast forward to 2021 where I struggle to keep my mind attending to even the most basic tasks. It's really entertaining how life takes you through such valleys and peaks, you really have no clue where you will end up sometimes. I was a massage therapist neo-hippy that believed in a universal life force, enlightenment, and the power of awareness. I drank chia seed water with lime juice, loved almond milk, ran barefoot (and once stepping in poop), and slept under trees (someone thought I was dead). I eventually changed course, cut my hair, and chose a different life path. Here's a fun pic of me in the Blue Ridge Parkway Mountains of North Carolina from 2010.

James Babana sitting on a rock. A really big rock.
Fun fact: I was gripping that rock REALLY hard.

These days I work to create miniature versions of that experience in the morning when the kids have yet to wake. I love to work a 15-30 minute session in, and really start finding my groove after about 10 minutes. Breathing settles in, body relaxes, mind is more sharp and alert. These are the mornings I LOVE the most, because when my kids wake up I am able to greet them with space in mind. It really doesn't matter what kind of mood they are in when I see them, I am more of an empty vessel letting them express themselves. It's this attitude that really carries me through my day, and helps me to refocus and reframe the world around me.

Our inner world is so easily projected outward. If you've been lost, mind scattered, unsure of yourself, or even finding yourself in a low energy state, this would be a great time to take inventory:

  1. How am I breathing?

  2. Am I holding tension anywhere?

  3. Can I watch it?

Finding calm in the storm is about finding a point of observation and awareness. It's not about action. You have your whole life to act of everything that comes your way, but in any particular moment you can choose to hit the pause button and JUST BE PRESENT. I've been working to sprinkle these moments with my patients from time to time, sharing techniques of mindfulness and perspectives that could help free them. I'll end this post with a simple technique:


  1. Sit upright with a cushion elevating your hips slightly off the ground level

  2. Fold your hands in your lap or on your thighs

  3. Gently close your eyes and your mouth, breathing through your nose

  4. Slowly tune into your breathing, watching the air come in and go out

Perform this for 2 minutes to start, and carry on longer if you can

Meditation has changed my life for the better. It has helped me to cope with challenges that were beyond my comprehension. It gave me focus and a sense of grounding when I needed it most. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with it, please leave a comment. Similarly, if you are in need of help because of pain or disability and would like an evaluation, you can reach out to me by email at or fill out the contact me page so I can get back to you.



In good health,

Dr. James Babana PT, DPT, LMT

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