Yesterday, I happened upon a National Geographic video entitled Stress: Portrait of a Killer. Since we’ve been posting about stress and how we handle it, this seemed especially serendipitous. The program deals with two bodies of research – one following troops of baboons, the other following British civil servants. I had to smile at the (not entirely fair) juxtaposition. Interestingly, each body of research had remarkably similar findings, to wit: the higher one is on the totem pole, the fewer stress-related illnesses and problems one has. I guess Mel Brooks was right (though terribly sexist and politically incorrect).
The upshot of the show was that a feeling of control over one’s circumstances is an important determiner of the amount of stress that gets internalized in the form of elevated stress hormones in the blood, decreased immune functioning, more plaque on artery walls, etc. You can watch the entire (hour-long) show here.
Another way to translate these findings, if you don’t happen to be the king, is to discover something that you feel capable in or in charge of, and focus your energy and sense of competence there.
But what did I get personally from all this? A new mantra, of sorts. You see, as explained in the program, the stress response is in existence to protect us in cases of life-threatening events. Otherwise, it’s a waste of adrenaline, and can even become a nasty, habitual state. So, I’ve been going around these last couple of days reminding myself that nothing is trying to kill me right now; I am perfectly safe. (Note: Does not apply when crossing Burlington Street in Iowa City) Without an immediate threat to life and limb, there’s simply no point in being all keyed up. Interestingly, I’ve been basically cool as a cucumber since I started my new mantra.
Give this approach a try. It’s simple and effective. I will chime in with more stress coping strategies later. Ooh-ooh.
Ah, stress… the unavoidable toll of having the gift of life!
While stress is indeed a fact of life and impossible to remove from our experience, the choice of HOW we choose to deal with stress is most definitely within our power. Personally, I find that stress can be a fuel for positive growth if we choose to accept our challenges in life as a call for us to grow, change, and respond appropriately to. Having the proper tools at our disposal makes all the difference when dealing with stress.
I am continually amazed at the power the breath has in transforming a stressful experience into a joyful one. In fact – for me at least – one of the surefire signs of stress is shallow, cramped breathing. Taking just a few minutes to consciously breathe deeply can make a world of difference in how stressful a given situation feels. By breathing deeply, we send a signal to ourselves to flow and move with our present experience, and not to resist it. And if trying to resist the flow of life isn’t stressful, then I don’t know what is!
I also find that various forms of meditation and vigorous exercise are all excellent antidotes to stress. Find a practice that you love and use it often. And remember to keep breathing!
In early July I made the decision to fold 1000 cranes in 90 days. I had been feeling stuck and frustrated in my work with a personal health challenge and felt that I needed a ‘cosmic boost’, some inspiration, wisdom and Grace. Grasping for answers and struggling for solutions wasn’t helping but still I found it difficult to let go, to simply allow healing to take place.
An ancient Japanese legend promises that folding 1000 paper cranes results in blessings bestowed–a wish granted, health restored, possibly a thousand years of good luck.
Because I seemed to be getting in my own way, I decided to unite my body, mind and spirit in an action that would focus on healing but not just mine–to send blessings to all who suffer and might be in need of healing. So I began this practice….
The first week I folded 12 extra cranes and now I fold 11 each day. I do my best to be fully present with each crane and at the end of the folding process, blow a healing blessing into each one. I’ve been giving them to people, leaving them at work, in hotels, restaurants, and anywhere I find myself sitting with a little extra time. It has done wonders for me and, should you find a paper crane today, may it bless you, too.
The Deerhound Method?
Recently, I’ve been employing a rather unconventional relaxation/revitalization technique which I’ve found to be very helpful in de-stressing after work. It involves the assistance of two 85 lb. dogs–my deerhound girls Siri and Zodi.
The first thing I do when I get home is make my way to the living room and lie flat on my back on the wood floor. My deerhounds think is great fun and they collapse on the ground next to me. Then, I envision all of the day’s stress flowing out of my body and into the earth. As I listen to my breath, their breath, and ease into the stillness of ‘not doing’ I feel myself unwind and settle.
I gradually make my way back to the vertical world in 10-20 minutes, disentangle myself from the sleeping dog bodies, and smudge myself with some sage. I emerge from this process well-rested, more peaceful and much more capable of enjoying the remainder of the day. Siri and Zodi just keep on sleeping until I make their dinner.
Jenny Wolffe LMT, KMI, RM
I’ve been thinking about patterns once again, and the eternal question of how to help myself and others to dissolve the destructive physical, psychological, and energetic patterns we all carry.
While talking with a friend, I heard that Bruce Lipton, a theorist and researcher in cell biology, believes that it is only through unraveling the patterning of the subconscious mind that cellular and psychological patterns begin to let go. He believes that the way to impact the subconscious is through treatments such as hypnosis, energy medicine, and the emotional freedom technique which involves tapping various points on the body.
It seems to me that all of these methods share one common theme and that is the distraction of the conscious mind so that the subconscious mind can be accessed. The amazing thing is that all of these techniques, and more, are regularly used by Eastwind’s practitioners. Hmm.
Welcome to the Eastwind Healing Center blog!
Our practitioners will post from time to time with interesting information, tidbits, etc. about wellness and alternative healthcare.
Visit often and see what’s new!
Michael and Candida