Stress is the root of many of our illnesses, it causes feelings of discomfort and dismay, and can wreak havoc on our souls. That may make it harder for us to connect with other souls, makes it more difficult to find meaning in situations, makes it harder to solve problems that can be solved, makes us feel that we are all alone.
Stress is also a consistent undertone of our day-to-day; for many, an unavoidable state.
So how do we cope with stress? One of the things we teach in our classes is that you can’t change the entire environment around you (the ringing phones, the traffic, a noisy neighbour), you can only be responsible for the change within yourself. You can choose to acknowledge and honour yourself during class, you can choose to be positive and proud that you made it to practice. You can develop the skills necessary to completely tune out distractions to your zen.
We could all do with a few more skills in managing stress. A few tips: notice the feelings of racing heart, sweaty palms, anxiety, accept them and then (most importantly!) move on from them. The body has a whole repertoire of stress responses. You will know yours! By acknowledging their presence, we are honouring our own feelings and noticing when they arise. Then the next step is to limit the stress from affecting any more of our day; whether that means creating a simple plan to manage the stress (identify three steps you can take to break the stressor down into smaller pieces that are more likely to be resolved), or simply putting thoughts away until the end of the day/ week when you can come back and tackle the stressor.
The body is a mind reader. Stress, anxiety, troubling messaging in the brain may eventually present as physical storms demanding more of your attention.
When we are stressed, parts of the brain will actually shut down, in an attempt to protect ourselves. It is essential that we, in turn, give our brains time in complete calmness so that it can continue to function and help us to thrive. Our weekly meditation classes teach the skills required to calm the breathe, the mind, and the body. You are also treated to a half hour of guided progressive relaxation that permits the brain to rest and replenish.