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 Be Human In 3 Easy Steps

LightBeing a human can get complicated.  Just getting through the day can turn into a chore of epic proportions.

When I’m feeling weighed down by tasks and obligations all of the spiritual texts in the world won’t make me feel balanced or peaceful.  In this state even a spiritual practice can turn into another box to check off on a never-ending “to-do” list.

When you start to feel like you’re in a race and you just can’t keep up, stop.  Stop right where you are, have a seat, and ask yourself, “What did I learn?”  You might get an answer, or you might get silence.  Either way, you stepped off the treadmill of time onto the solid foundation of the now.

Tonight I stopped to ask myself that question and got 3 easy answers that make being a human a lot less difficult:

1. Relish the accomplishments of others. They are your own.

2. If you’re having a bad day and something makes you smile or laugh, let your mood change.

3. Planning to do many things can lead to stagnation and feeling overwhelmed.  Instead choose to do one thing, and only when it is over think of another thing to do.



“The blossoming of your full potential is made possible by faithful tending to your inner state.”

Photo by Sally Spero

The inertia of my long winter break has a gravity that I find very inviting.  It is easy to want to stay at home in my robe and slippers; in fact it isn’t something I can talk myself out of desiring.

Last night I asked myself if there were any job in the world I would feel like going back to after my year-end break.  I could not think of one.  If Professional Netflix Watcher were a job I would probably be okay with going back to that, and do quite well, but that is not (yet) in the realm of possibility.

I had two extra days off from work because of the bitter cold here in Chicago, and while I relished the prolonged period of rest, I found that my anxiety about returning to everyday life grew. The inertia of stagnation is powerful.  This object needed a force to act upon it.

I decided to commit to listening to another round of “Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge,” since any step forward would begin to create my future.  While my winter break mentality still lingers quietly in the periphery of my consciousness I can act upon my own state of being by taking just one small positive action at a time.

photo-16There is nothing too flashy or exciting about spiritual growth from the outside.  In fact everything on the outside seems to get a little bit quieter, even slower.  The same is true of the inner experience of spiritual growth at times when you are making the quiet effort to regain balance in life.  During today’s meditation the voice in my head was noisy, my eyes even fluttered open a few times.  There were no flashes of enlightenment or miraculous insights.

This is the quiet road to experiencing the true, inherent fullness of life.  It is in these internal pursuits that the real work of your soul, with its experiences, karmic obligations, and purposes can come to fruition.  The blossoming of your full potential is made possible by faithful tending to your inner state.  When you ask what lesson you are meant to learn in each life experience, you set yourself on the road to “graduation.”  You embark on the path of your reason for being.

In this small moment in my life where I am gently being guided back to balance I am reminded that the only necessary step is this one step.  What happens next, what will be required of me, is not my business.   My business is the present moment.

Whether it is focusing too much on “the big picture” or losing focus altogether that is causing stagnation in your life, choose one small step to gift to yourself.  Each conscious attempt truly will be a gift to your life, and the lives of everyone else, whom you are intrinsically connected to.


The Cure For Monday Malaise

Garfield by Jim DavisHow can we change our reactions to Mondays?  I’m sure there are many who spring out of bed Monday morning, just like any other day, and enjoy themselves.  Yet, the going notion seems to equate Monday with misery.

Do you have any strategies to charge your positive energy at the beginning of the workweek?

For me, one of the main strategies to not dreading the coming of the workweek is to stay very present on Sunday night.  It is so easy to create bad feelings through anticipation, so I bring my attention right down to my current perception of the moment.

It is also easy to create a bad Monday by making up your mind that it is going to be bad.  This is the same momentum in my own life that sometimes prevents me from trying new things.  When I’ve decided in my mind that I’m not going to have a good time, it becomes much more likely that I will create a bad time through my negative perception of the situation.  Letting go of thoughts of the future is another helpful step to curing the Monday blues.

Coffee Love Using Monday to let go of reaction can also change what was once an undesirable situation.  I experience this phenomenon with cold weather all the time.  There is nothing wrong with the temperature starting to drop and feeling that cold wind upon my face.  It is as it is.  What is so unpleasant about the cold is my negative reaction to it. I know many people here in Chicago that love the winter season, and are just fine waiting at the bus stop in 30-degree weather.  

By letting go of my reaction, I can allow the circumstance to be as it is, and even if it isn’t good it is no longer bad by any means.  Letting go of negative reactions to the start of the workweek can transform what was once an unpleasant situation, to a neutral or even enjoyable experience.

For those of us who need a little extra revving up for the start of the week, let’s make a game out of Mondays.  While that day of the week so often gets a bad wrap, lets change “misery Monday” to “miracle Monday!”  Choose something to focus on that would really make your heart sing.  I’m going to look for signs of prosperity.  I don’t know what that will look like, but from the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep on Monday night, I’m going to focus my attention on prosperity and look for it however it may manifest.  You could also have a Monday where you search for things to be grateful for, look for abundance, seek out signs that the universe is supporting you, search for signs of health, focus on finding your passion or calling, or keep your eyes peeled for love and new relationships.  Whatever you choose to manifest for “miracle Monday,” the end result will be an exciting and fruitful first day of the workweek.

Tonight I send out all of my positive energy to you for this coming week.  May you see prosperity, joy, love, and growth!  After all, when it comes to the days of the week, it is you and I who decide the perspective we experience them from.


“In the moment of seeing, of noticing that your relationship with the Now is dysfunctional, you are present.” – Tolle

Wind Tunnel

The first day of teaching for a new year of the after school program always leaves me thinking, “what just happened?”  Now sitting on a comfortable couch at home, I see the pull to hang on to the day.  To stay in the stress, to worry about what it will be like tomorrow.  But when I think about how I felt about the new year of programming this morning, before it at all began, I know I wasn’t worried at all.  I didn’t feel stressed about the prospect of the next class.

Even though the day has a magnetic pull, I can see that feeling like I did this morning would be a much more enjoyable way of being.  I can also see that feeling present and without worry didn’t effect the reality of the experience as it actually occurred.

Worry or not, the outcome is always the same.  The moment always comes to pass.  This is the moment where I have the opportunity to choose again.  Instead of succumbing to the attraction of holding on, I can choose to put down the thoughts of past and future, and return to the only place I will ever be, the present.

How do you feel when the day is done?  If you ever find yourself reliving the day over again in your head, create an experiment out of putting the day down, and allowing yourself to just be where you are.  After all, the only way to see if it feels better than a previous way of being, is to experience it.


“I’ve Got A Golden Ticket!”


My parking spot was stolen. Admittedly, that is not the most accurate sentence. I don’t actually own a parking spot, so strictly speaking nothing was stolen. But another driver did prevent me from parking in the spot I was attempting to back into. It was at that point, when I decided to give it up and drive away, that I allowed myself to cry hysterically for about a minute and a half.

Was this an overreaction? It was clearly a very strong response. But the parking spot was just a small nudge over the cliff I had been teetering on since I left work. I had received some information about pay and hours for the coming year that was not in alignment with my thoughts about how it should be. Usually that is where frustration starts. There is a disconnect between reality, and the mind’s ideas about reality.

Intellectually I am aware that the events that took place today were all working for my good. My brain still trusts the universe. But that wasn’t how I was feeling. I felt frustrated, and unnerved. So when “my” parking spot was “stolen” I decided it was time to let out the negative energy that had awoken within me. If I hadn’t allowed that energy to express itself, it would have lived on within my body, leaving me more susceptible to illness and further negative energy.

I then proceeded to find a parking spot, and walk home in the gloriously clear blue sky. I find that after a less-than-desirable experience, it is necessary to rev myself up again. Instead of letting the space created from purging my negative energy fill up with a reaction to another event, I feel it is more helpful to choose what I let in.

For a few minutes I danced and sang about how grateful and abundant my life was. Then I decided to watch an inspiring sermon on YouTube, but instead found myself watching clips from Willy Wonka. Wouldn’t you know it, it was just what I needed! The first video featured the song, “Golden Ticket,” which displayed exactly the level of energy I was attempting to reach. What was more, I heard the lyrics spoken straight from the universe itself:

I never had a chance to shine
Never a happy song to sing
But suddenly half the world is mine
What an amazing thing
‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket (Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley)

When I let go of thought, observe the world around me, and sense my own beingness in connection with all that is, that is what it feels like! I’ve got a golden ticket and the world is mine, or rather, I am the world. Consciousness is the real golden ticket. God can speak to you with exactly the right words, through any vessel in the universe. All that is required, in the words of Willy Wonka, is to “simply look around and view it.”