How To Step Out Of Stress

DucksOn Friday night I was so stressed from my vision of the coming week that all I could do was cry about it.  Then just the next day, I got sick.  The negative emotions generated by the spinning of my anxious thoughts so quickly translated into physical illness that my choice became clear.  I could do my work with stress, or I could do it without stress.  The former was so obviously uncomfortable that I opted for the “without stress” option.

It did not seem easy at first.  My mind wouldn’t let go of thinking about the end products and panicking about how I would get there successfully.  I wasn’t going to find peace of mind from my mind.  That was the stress trigger itself.  I knew that to make the decision to go about my tasks stress free I had to surpass the mind’s attempts to help altogether.

It then became all the more clear that the uncomfortable state I had been experiencing wasn’t due to any task I had to perform, but rather, by my thoughts about their outcomes.

Focusing on the fruits of your actions instead of the actions themselves creates stress.  If you’re feeling like I was last Friday, look at your situation and notice if you are thinking about the end product instead of just dealing with the task at hand.  That slight shift in perspective may be the step that takes you out of stress altogether.


How To Stop Time

TimelessWhat would you choose to do right now if you could stop time?  If the succession of time had a DVR and you could simply press the pause button, do you know how you would fill in the gap?

Now that the holidays are over, my family has returned to their various corners of the world, and I’m navigating life on my own again post-surgery, time has begun to feel like a thief robbing me of moments I wish I could get back.

Since racing against the clock is an invitation for disappointment and constant discontent, how can you find a way out?  Is there a way to stop time?

The ticking of the clock, of course, cannot stop.  But when time feels too fast, it isn’t clock time you’re fighting with, it is psychological time.  Thoughts of missing the past, and anxious thoughts about the future make time an undefeatable enemy.  The actual present moment that you are experiencing will never run away from you; it is the one constant in a life full of variables.

Instead of worrying about a future deadline, work when you work, and rest when you rest.  The end game will be the same either way.  This doesn’t seem as simple as it sounds to a mind running in circles trying to solve the “problem” of time. The mind will continue to spin its tales, but without your belief in them, the stories lose their power.

Stop time by bringing yourself back to the faithful now.  In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment.”


How To Make Stress Good For You

Gene's Grocery If you were absolutely sure, beyond any doubt, that your thoughts create your experience of reality, what you would you do?  Or rather, what would you think?

The following video offers amazing examples of the power of belief over our ability to maintain a state of health and well-being.  But it goes further than that.  It tells us that stress, which is commonly linked to negative physical side effects, is made negative by our thoughts about it.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal cites a study done in the US that tracked 30,000 adults for eight years.  At the beginning of the study those adults were asked about their levels of stress in the last year and if they believed stress was harmful for their health. Then, as McGonigal states, “they used public death records to find out who died.” While people who experienced a high level of stress had a 43% increase in dying, they all had one other factor in common, they believed stress was bad for them.  The adults who were highly stressed but didn’t believe stress was harmful to their health had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the study, including the participants with relatively low levels of stress.

McGonigal goes on to explain these results on a physical level, but the message of her TED talk has implications for more than just the experience of stress.  When we experience anything in our lives we have the choice to accept that it is happening, or resist it internally.  Nonresistance of what is not only opens us up to experiencing the highest manifestation that can be born of that situation, but it also allows the body to regulate itself and maintain its own health.

Today I invite you to ask yourself, “What thoughts about my life situation are causing me pain or dis-ease?”  Experiment with replacing that view-point with one that is accepting, empowering, and joyful.  You could be saving your own life!


What’s stress got to do with it?


A lot of commercials on TV this time of year talk about how to relieve “holiday stress.”  Stress is a symptom of a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. 

Have you gone too far ahead into future thoughts, or slipped backwards into thoughts of the past?

The dysfunction that manifests as stress may be a sign that the present moment has become a means to an end, as Tolle often points out in A New Earth.  This can happen easily when the present moment contains planning, cooking, organizing, and preparing for an event that in some cases involves many people.  This can also occur if an event is viewed as unfavorable and you are waiting for it to be over.  Yet, truly successful ends are dependent upon successful means.  Meaning, that the present moment experience creates the experience of present moments to come.

If the holidays create stress for you, give your mind a break from thoughts of past and future.  Holidays are reminders to enjoy the experience of the present moment; signifying its importance and wonderment available not only during this one present moment experience, but at all times.

When I get too serious about situations I say to myself, “This is just for fun!”  Figuring out what will snap you back to the present, where all joy resides, can be an enjoyable and infinitely fruitful learning experience.  This Thanksgiving let yourself experience the space from which all there is to be thankful for emerges, the present.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For (In No Particular Order):

  1. My health.
  2. The ability to walk and the use of my arms. (Ok I said two things here, but they are both under the general category of working extremities).
  3. Food and the ability to digest food.
  4. The five senses.
  5. Being alive.
  6. Consciousness.
  7. The experience of love.
  8. The eternal present.
  9. Other human beings. (My family, friends, co-workers, people I haven’t met yet, you).
  10. The planet earth and how I get to live on it.  (Thanks to the movie Gravity for really solidifying my love of planet earth).

The more you are thankful for, the more you end up having to be thankful for!  Where does your gratitude gravitate this Thanksgiving?


“Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Have you ever seen or heard something that seemed like it was meant just for you?  Last night I parked behind a car with the bumper sticker, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”  What a wonderful message from the universe!  Peace has room to grow in your life once you stop taking your thoughts so seriously.

I have been more stressed out recently, from work and moving, than I usually ever am.  But once I stop believing in all of the worry thoughts, I have more space for peace and joy to rise.  The practice is moment to moment.  When I find myself pacing around a room, with my shoulders up to my ears, I have a new opportunity to take a deep breath and let go of my attachment to my thoughts.  When I start thinking of everything I have to do, and feel the heat of stress rising in my belly, I take a deep breath, and surrender to the present moment once more.  When I hear the din from the train and am about to freak out about moving to a place where I’ll have to hear it everyday, I take a deep breath, and remind myself how grateful I am to be so close to transportation.

In a new apartment, no matter how perfect and wonderful it is, it’s easy to see all of the little things that are wrong with it. What situations in your life provoke the voice of complaint? The easiest way to combat the voice of complaint is gratitude.  Whenever I hear the voice in my head complaining, I try to replace it with a list of the things I am grateful for.  I am grateful for my bedroom.  I am grateful to have a shower.  I am grateful for the stove.  I am grateful to be under a roof.  The list is infinite, and the best part is that it replaces the voice of the ego attempting to sabotage the peace of presence.