March 2014 ~ Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World
March 2014 ~ Finding Balance in an Unbalanced WorldSocrates said, "Know thyself." This month, we share a handout from a recent workshop with Josh Reeves (used with his permission, of course). The handout forms the basis for this month’s article on ways of coping with stress, based on a self-assessment that helps us look at areas where we might be experiencing stress, with some suggestions for coping with those stressors. Each of us is a unique individual so what is happening for one person, may be experienced differently by someone else.
Answer the questions below by circling the choice that fits you most closely (the questionnaire may be downloaded as PDF file):
1. What is more difficult for you . . .
2. Is your stress more related to . . .1. Being Present
1. The task that you are currently engaged in
2. Regret about a previous event
3. Anxiety about an upcoming event.3. Are you more apt to seek counsel . . .
1. On how to be
2. On how to cope
3. On what to do.4. What drives your concerns in relationship . . .
1. Everyday interaction
2. Past behavior
3. Direction of relationship.5. Are you more apt to . . .
1. Get distracted
2. Feel guilty
3. Worry.6. Are you more likely to be in judgment about yourself for . . .
1. How you are acting
2. What you've done
3. What you've yet to do.7. What do you respect more in others . . .
1. Live in the present
2. Have no regrets
3. A clear direction.Interpreting Your answers
Count the number of times you circled each answer choice:
1. ________ 2. ________ 3. ________
If you circled more of the number 1 choices, your challenge is being in the present moment.
If you circled more of the number 2 choices, you tend to dwell on past events.
If you circled more of the number 3 choices, you tend to focus on possible future events.
You might have a tie or have a hard time choosing which choice fits you most closely. That’s OK. Each person is unique and different.
When we feel stress beyond the occurrence of a specific event, it means we are stuck somewhere, leading to continued stress that keeps us from enjoying life as much as we could.
For being in the present moment, one good technique to use is meditation — quieting the mind and detaching from outside stresses so that a state of peace and quiet can be achieved.
The benefits of meditation include a reduction in: high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.
There are many different ways to meditate. A few examples include: sitting quietly with a focused mind, staring at a candle, listening to soft music, listening to nature sounds (birds, water, soft breezes), chanting, walking with focused attention and more — so each person can find what works best for them. A wide variety of meditation techniques can be learned in classes, books and via the Internet.Scientifically demonstrated benefits of mindfulness practice include an increase in the body's ability to heal and a shift from a tendency to use the right prefrontal cortex instead of the left prefrontal cortex, associated with a trend away from depression and anxiety, and towards happiness, relaxation and emotional balance. [from ^ "Jon Kabat-Zinn gives a Google Tech Talk about introductory mindfulness practice online". YouTube, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation#cite_note-mindful_tech_talk-149]
The most well-known teacher of meditation techniques was Buddha.
For learning not to dwell on past events, one good technique is forgiveness — releasing the energy attached to a person or event that keeps us trapped in the past. As with meditation, there are many ways to learn forgiveness techniques.
The benefits of forgiveness include: greater happiness and overall health (mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, including improved cardiovascular and nervous systems). According to research studies, less forgiving people reported a great number of health problems.
The most well-known teacher of forgiveness was Jesus. Another well-known person who has demonstrated forgiveness in modern times is Nelson Mandela.In three separate studies, including one with Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland whose family members were murdered in the political violence, he found that people who are taught how to forgive become less angry, feel less hurt, are more optimistic, become more forgiving in a variety of situations, and become more compassionate and self-confident. His studies show a reduction in experience of stress, physical manifestations of stress, and an increase in vitality. [Fred Luskin, Ph.D. Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness (Harper, 2002)] – [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness#cite_note-14 ]
Affirmative Prayer / Positive Thinking
For those who tend to focus on future events, one good technique is affirmative prayer — knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that things will work out in a positive way.
As with mediation and forgiveness, there are a variety of ways to learn positive thinking techniques and a myriad of books, workshops and ways to learn how do it.
The benefits of positive thinking include a greater ability to cope with stress, the ability to be flexible in the face of changes, being able to focus on the positive aspects of life and a greater sense of control when stressful situations do occur.
Teachers of positive thinking / affirmative prayer techniques include: Dr. Ernest Holmes (Science of Mind textbook), Dr, Wayne Dyer (You’ll See When You Believe It!), Charles and Myrtle Filmore, James Allen (As A Man Thinketh), Dr. William James, Morris Lichtenstein and Ella Wheeler Wilcox.The Mayo Clinic reports a number of health benefits associated with optimism, including a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression, and an increased lifespan. While researchers are not entirely clear on why positive thinking benefits health, some suggest that positive people might lead healthier lifestyles. By coping better with stress and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, they are able to improve their health and well-being. [from http://psychology.about.com/od/PositivePsychology/a/benefits-of-positive-thinking.htm]
Learning stress reduction techniques is like learning any other skills — it takes practice to learn now to do them well until they become a regular habit and part of your daily routine. If you meditate, forgive and see life from a positive viewpoint, life becomes easier and stress is more manageable.
Unless we live as a hermit on an isolated mountain top, modern life will provide many opportunities for us to encounter stress in daily living and to practice better coping techniques.
We wish you a positive and less-stressful month, as we shift seasons from the challenges of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere to the coming of Spring.
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Related newsletter articles:
Wit, Wisdom and Fun http://www.itstime.com/swisdom.htm
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