The Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote,
It is in your power, whenever you choose, to retire into yourself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
This advice reminds me of one of the messages in the Bhagavad Gita, a two-thousand year-old Hindu text:
Wherever the mind wanders, restless and diffuse in its search for satisfaction without, lead it within, train it to rest in the Self. Abiding joy comes to those who still the mind.
— Vishnu, Bhagavad Gita
I’ve been trying to put this advice into practice. Walking down the street in the face of an icy winter wind, I make an effort to relax. Instead of fretting at subway delays, I imagine shifting my brain into neutral gear.
The other day, arriving at a restaurant a few minutes before my wife, I took a deep breath and put away my phone…