Today we begin our month long on-line course ‘STRESS, getting real with challenge’. The challenge for me is how to do justice to such a multi-layered, enormous topic in 30 days.
Because understanding stress isn’t as simple as telling ourselves ‘it’s just my thinking’.
There are stressors that are humanity-wide (eg. violence, poverty, captivity, discrimination…). There are variables that which, when not right for the individual, can also create stress (eg. noise, temperature, stimulation, sleep…).
We must not use a conversation about reality to deny the drive (and right) of the ‘body-mind system’ to find its optimum, nourished, thriving and balanced status.
And yet, this conversation about reality, self, the mind and experience, presents a conundrum when it comes to stress…
Because the human mind, in all its infinite creativity, has a capacity, tendency even, to project its own insecurities, shame and fears and then react to this projection with stress and tension as though the projection is reality.
We see this in ourselves all the time. When we are low or tired, tasks seem harder. When we are insecure, other people seem more confident and able. When we are anxious, our environment seems harsher and more dangerous. When we are ashamed, the world seems to judge us.
And this of course is a vicious circle.
The harder the tasks appear, the more tired we feel and the harder the tasks look.
The more confident and able others appear, the more insecure we feel and the more confident others appear.
And so on…
What this reveals is that the self is not separate from the tasks, other people, environment or the world. It is all made of understanding, belief, thought in that moment.
What do we do about that?
How do we make sure we acknowledge the ‘real’ stressors that will not disappear no matter how settled the mind?
It is quite a conundrum.
And one which cannot be adequately addressed by either taking reality at unquestioned face value or, alternatively, denying all reality.
So where to begin?
It begins with what question we are asking ourselves.
‘How can I get rid of stress?’ does not take us even slightly far enough. It leaves us at the level of addressing symptoms without understanding what gave rise to them.
We need a question that creates the space for both current experience, for exploration of what is true and for the system to find its right way to be.
A more powerful question therefore might be…
‘Where is freedom?’
This question takes us to the freedom of the body to express its ‘dis-ease’…
the freedom to honour the current experience…
the freedom that is veiled by the limited believed idea of what we are, of what we have to do, of how we have to live and which is revealed as that idea loses its grip…
the freedom for changes to be made, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to be said, harm to be prevented, desire and needs to be expressed…
the freedom of life aligned, expressed, balanced and nourished in that individual…
And, ultimately, the freedom to bring this about for all seven billion of us.
If you would like to join us this month on our exploration of stress, click here to find out more.