How to cultivate inner calm in a context of chaos – getting flexible and connecting with values!

By Ali Flint

Hi – I am Ali, a psychologist, human being, and lifelong explorer in science, humanity and spirituality. As part of my ongoing journey of personal growth I recently attended a 5 day Tibetan Buddhism retreat connecting psychology with spirituality. On the way home, in a busy, noisy airport lounge, I wrote some reflections upon my experience, that I’d like to share.

I have been at the airport for a while now.. back to bright, noisy, stimulating and complex civilisation. After 5 challenging nights in a rural spiritual setting – I sit in a path-intersecting pub, having a wine while both a UFC match & background music are surrounding (distracting?) me. What a contrast! Inner calm must be cultivated in a context of chaos or not at all. It seems at this moment like nothing & everything matters – in equal measure.

Despite the misleading word “retreat”, our schedule was demanding: 6:15am- 8:30pm. The dharma lessons were rich and at times my brain drowned in the depths. The deep meditation sessions, chanting of ancient mantras (that reverberated the heart) and group karma was intense. Despite barely sleeping in my modest bed, keeping to strict schedules reinforced by a bell and being devoured by mosquitoes most nights, I truly know I have basked in the teachings that have been in existence since beginningless time, I am privileged to receive the loving kindness of wise Buddhist nuns who are further along the spiritual path, and I am truly lucky (blessed?) to have been part of a group of therapists who are making a concerted effort towards creating a better world we will one day leave behind… 

The heavy rain has fallen day and night throughout the week. A chorus of happy frogs sung loudly & the battle-scarred thirsty Earth soaked up each nourishing drop. Back in Sydney, flights are cancelled, delayed & thankfully rescheduled. Life goes on… no matter what tiny crevice we find ourselves in at any given moment. Our lives are both important and heart-breakingly impermanent & insignificant.

Yet, we all want the same things – true happiness & freedom from suffering. There are always layers. Let’s see each other for who we truly are, and where we are at. We are all doing the best we can, with what we know & have. We have met before. Hello, I am back (for now) – Ali.

Indeed, I was privileged to be able to take this five days away from the rush and pressures of everyday life – but how can I and my clients find such skills DURING the day-to-day chaos? This is where the present moment, values and, yes, even secular spirituality-focused elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can make a real difference.

I am so excited to work in a space that honours the ancient wisdom of such traditions AND builds on and contextualises this from a Western science framework – to allow connection, vitality, mindfulness and more effective ways of dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress – just some of the conditions we humans might struggle with in our complex, 21st century lives.

Check out my page on the Brisbane ACT Centre site, and get in touch if you’d like to see if I can help you on your own journey of personal growth.

Ali Flint

Ali Flint

Registered Psychologist

About the Author

Ali is a compassionate, highly intuitive psychologist with over 15 years of clinical experience. Friendly, down-to-earth and practical in her approach, Ali seeks to truly connect with her clients and support them to tap into their own inner wisdom and strength.

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