Calm – A Valuable Preset

Written by Susan

A calm mind is a mind that can endure most things. It’s easy to be calm when things go your way, but what about when they don’t?

How can you tap into calmness during difficult times?

The opposite of calm is stress and you know once you awake, stress will appear; it’s a part of life. How much stress you experience is what changes. If you think of it like rain, it’s easy to imagine stress as a mild mist or a raging thunderstorm, or anything in between.

When a health crisis happens to you, or to someone you love, it turns your life upside down. Feelings of fear and stress rage through your body not unlike the previously mentioned thunderstorm; it’s bound to happen.

A Diagnosis

Last month, my beautiful brother, Barry, was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. He and I both experience our life with a progressive neuromuscular disease known as Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT). This shared genetic gift creates a tender bond between us. We’re often mistaken for twins though we were born sixteen months apart – but, that’s more because of our gentle nature and positive outlook than our appearance.


We both use medical aids and devices to keep us active. Leg braces, walkers, scooters, but most importantly, a breathing ventilator, or bi-pap, that basically takes over the muscle work of breathing during rest. Unlike a c-pap used for sleep apnea, our is a must have. Without it …well, you get the idea.

Last summer Barry felt increasingly weak and decided to stop working. We all thought this was because of the pre-existing disease. Time to slow down. He and his wife made the decision to move to the city where I live with my partner and a few cats. They purchased a condo just down the street. We’re close enough now that he and I can use our scooters to visit.

However, his breathing has continued to be challenged by a blocked nose and consequently, he did not sleep well. After much discomfort, he was diagnosed; he has a tumour lodged in his upper nasal cavity.

A Whirlwind

Days before Christmas, the four of us drove three hours to the cancer facility where he will receive treatment. The physicians are impressive and the centre is state-of-the-art. His diagnosis was explained and a schedule of tests and treatments was outlined. Fortunately, full family support during consultation visits was welcome. We’ve now named ourselves – ‘Team Barry‘.

When we returned I felt exhausted and in a state of shock. The following day, I fell into the trap of fearful thinking. It was as if I time traveled into an unknown abyss and panic set in.

Calm Down

I thought about my recent learnings about The Three Principles, an understanding of how life operates. I focused on the Principle of Thought, it reminds us that our experience of life is created by our thoughts in the moment. Let me repeat…

Our experience of life is created by our thoughts in the moment

Immediately, I saw that I was the one creating my experience of panic through fearful thinking.

Realizing this brought an image of a spinning top to my mind – a toy I favoured as a child. In essence, I was the one pumping the toy’s handle. I created the energy force to propel the spin with my fearful thinking.


This insight freed me. Mentally, I lifted my hand from the top and let the toy spin out. It lost its motion.

Calm Immediately Resurfaced

All emotions are presets that live within our humanness and they are activated by our thinking. Consciousness, allows us to transform formless energy into form. In this instance, for a short while, I got caught up with the special effects associated with fear. I chose to let go of fear and instead look within and locate my preset for calm. Looking in this direction felt like coming home.

Supporting my brother is important to me and from time to time fearful thinking surfaces, but I quickly see it for what it is, let it go, and return to calm.

A calm mind can endure.

About the author


Living Well Today is a show that explores what it means to live well. Especially, when people find themselves challenged by significant changes in their health. Our host, Susan, lives with a progressive neuromuscular disease known as CMT, and she showcases guest interviews that are heartfelt and packed with insights.

Conversations here are relaxed and heartfelt, so grab a cuppa of something and join us. If you like what you hear, have questions, or want to learn how to be on our show, then we’d love to hear from you through our contact page. Be sure to subscribe to our show on iTunes and come back often. Here’s to living well today!


  • Hi Susan, just catching up with your brother’s news. Rooting for him and you all. What you are describing is a really useful reminder: panic thinking (while so understandable) causes panic feeling and vice-versa and on and on it goes, leaving us breathless. Your image of the spinning toy will stay with me and remind me. Thank you. Much love. Karin

  • Thank you, Susan, for your honesty and openness and sharing. I too was fearful at first when I heard of my diagnoses. You think, why me? what the heck? but we all know the stats. So best I listen to the great Dr’s I have met, my care team and my Team Barry. Team Barry makes all the difference.

    When I have such a supportive loving team and family surrounding me it really helps in dealing with this in the most positive way possible. And, that will help in my healing.

    I had to be a bit brave with all the tests, CT scans, MRI’s, poked and prodded, so far but all for good reason. So as I start my journey with treatments (drug therapy and radiation) I will embrace this and accept whatever comes my way, cure of course, is at the top of my list as well as my Dr’s.

    Thank you to Patti (my wonderful partner), Susan and Jan for their endless support. Could not do this without them all, they bring a special calmness to me during this time.

    Much love,

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