My grandfather and father had a single word framed and posted in their offices: Ataraxia. It’s from the Greek stoic philosophers and roughly translated means tranquility. I take it to mean keeping calm in the midst of whatever life brings.
Many traditions offer ways to seek this state of mind. Over time I have adapted my own daily practice. I use Buddhist beads (could be from any tradition) and each day focus on one word, taking a breath in and exhaling one word. Some of the words come from ancient spiritual traditions and practices, others are ones that seem silly but bring a smile and that is important.
Some traditions call this prayer, others devotions. I prefer the term prayerfulness because it symbolizes a state of being awake or aware or mindful. But whatever you call it, the time spent is worthwhile for a more tranquil, centered life.
The only way to change one’s daily life is to consciously make a decision about who you want to be and how you want to act and then practice–starting small and continuing until you no longer have to think about doing. So, if you want to be a compassionate person, you will need to practice being compassionate, if only one small, kind act a day.
My decision was to try to center myself before each day begins and,if possible, revert back to this during the day. I do so using single words collected over time from various traditions and from my own creation. Each day I take a few minutes to center myself. Over time, I do this every day and feel if I don’t I have missed something quite important.
You can create your own word or use one from a great spiritual tradition. Here are my ten words: