Coping with Stress, implies containing or controlling stress, which can be damaging when energy input is excessive, or more than is required for dealing with a situation. The causes of stress are many and all forms of stress are constraining in some way. The word stress is from a Latin root strictus, from stringere, to draw tight. There are strings attached to most that we become contracted to in this world, whether it is a mortgage or a pay day loan.
Energy as life-force, is expressive at many levels, whether mineral, plant, animal or human; this when fulfilling its purpose can be called good energy, or energy that is suited to purpose, and when destructive and inimical to purpose, bad energy, not suitable to purpose. Energy in itself is neither good nor bad; it is how it is directed is the key; we would all like to live a harmonious life and when stress becomes excessive, we need ways of dealing with it.
Coping methods can be at either physical emotional or mental levels, such as exercise like going for a walk and if possible in open countryside, or by the sea. Listening to soothing music, calming the breath, or even a short nap as worry can be emotionally draining. Thoughts are energy formations with direct links to the way we feel, and deep feelings of anxiety can be persistent and difficult to let go.
The practice of mindfulness is taking control by steadying the mind and breaking the inertia of worrying trains of thought. Train yourself to stop serial thinking by focussing on the immediate and present moment; if at home try removing your footwear and earth yourself, by affirming your contact with the ground. Become aware of the things in your immediate vicinity as it is possible to be rushing to solve problems and forget the space you occupy.
Sub consciousness and deep seated fears are the most difficult to deal with, as on the surface they may seem irrational, and yet there is always a reason lying behind the fears we experience. The yoga class and yoga nidra can be of help; particularly if we learn to hold ourselves at the edge of sleep and observe impressions that rise to the surface. One technique (Yoga Nidra). usually guided by an experienced yoga teacher, is to first relax and then present a series of images to the mind, some pleasant and some unpleasant e.g. a cottage with roses around the door, an endless burning dessert, a coffin beside an open grave.
These and similar visualisation repetitions are briefly focussed upon; before letting go and clearing the mind and then observing the impressions and feelings that come to the surface, as underlying deep seated tension is released. A not dissimilar auto-suggestive relaxation technique, in which helpful words and sentences are used to create positive feeling changes, is Autogenic training. The words if carefully chosen will help bring a positive re-orientation and support when dealing with a variety of life’s difficulties.
Meditation also helps to put life back into perspective, by creating space between yourself and the problem to be solved. Stress intensifies a situation and exaggerates, and creating space between you and the problem, will open the mind to fresh ideas. Creating space is the basis of Zen meditation, starting with the focussed mind then letting go completely, and letting go whatever the mind has been focussed on, so that at it disappears completely. Then returning back to the original focal point and as you will discover, it will always be with new ideas and a fresh sense of perspective.
Stairways to Heaven is a similar meditation for outdoors on a summers day or by use of the imagination and starts by just listening to the sounds of nature, bird song, and even sensing the world around as if seeing with the skin surface.; then by stepping upward from each sense impression, reaching upward as if into limitless space, until mind and heart are filled, as if with blue sky. Blue is a refreshing and healing colour and is only a step away from the clear untroubled mind of a self-realised yogi.
The breath and the emotions are closely related and calming the breath, calms’ the emotions. There is a close relationship between breath and spirit and when agitated in body and mind, the breath is likely to reflect the emotional tone present in that moment. When stressed breathe deeply and slowly as if the breath were rising and falling, from and into an oasis of peace. Then retain this peace at the centre of your being.