Finding Peace of Mind

By Colm Ashe

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you wanted to escape? I have.

It was a typical Wednesday on Molloy’s campus. Homework assignments and project deadlines buzzed around my anxious brain, demanding every bit of my conscious attention. I felt disconnected. Like I was just going through the motions.

I couldn’t focus on a single task. Every time I sat down to my work, I kept thinking about everything else I had to do. I couldn’t even focus on procrastinating. I tried distracting myself by mindlessly scrolling through social media and compulsively checking my emails. Nothing could take my mind off all the work I had to do.

I felt this urge welling up inside me. This gnawing anxiety in my chest that manifested as a whirlwind in my head. I don’t know why, but I started walking.

I left Public Square and headed through the back lots towards Mercy Medical Center. Just past Mercy was a highway and a thick line of trees on the other side. Curiosity pulled me towards it. By this point, I had given up all hope on getting any work done.

Just beyond those trees, I saw Hempstead Lake for the first time. I didn’t expect to stumble upon this massive pocket of nature hidden amongst the highway traffic. I walked until the sounds of rumbling engines were replaced with rustling trees and my racing thoughts were carried away by the autumn air.

Eventually, I sat down and stared out at the lake. There was something hypnotic about the scene. Smooth ripples pulsating outwards as if echoing the whispering winds. The slow, spiraling motion of an occasional falling leaf. The feeling of the sun on my skin.

While paying attention to these simple little details, I felt this deep sense of peace. The chatter of my to-do list had faded in the face of this powerful stillness.

Sometimes I get caught up in my schedule. From school to family to friends to work, it can feel like I’m being pulled in every direction by obligations. In this frantic state, I neglect my own emotional and mental health. That stuff builds up without me even realizing, causing even more anxiety down the road.

By carving out some time for myself every day to relax in a distraction-free environment, I can avoid feeling like I’m constantly rushing from A to B. I’ll still have my busy life, but it will be much more manageable. Rather than impulsively reacting to situations, I’ll feel more capable handling responsibilities. Rather than half-heartedly attending to every task, I can learn to focus on one thing at a time.

As I left the lake, I experienced a surge of creativity. Inspirations and solutions emerged from the depths of my mind. Stress gave way to a relaxed state of flow, which carried me back to school and straight into my work. With my renewed energy, I was ready to tackle the day.