just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

Stress Reduction

Published on 05/04/11
by randy

Years ago I taught progressive relaxation to some of my communications students.  I was always amazed to discover how few had a felt sense of the actual ‘relaxation’ response.  They received training in tensing and then letting go.  Many never could truly reach a state of complete muscle relaxation when tested.  They ‘held on’ with muscle tension, resisting the ‘let go’ response involved in relaxation.

I like the definition that ‘stress’ is the distance from where we’ve been or where we want to be from where we are.  The logical conclusion would mean we reduce stress to the degree we’re able to ‘arrive here, now’.  If I can fully engage the moment, in complete awareness to what’s arising and what it offers, I’ve left the stress zone.  Many spiritual traditions would direct us to this.  For example, Buddhism says we’re either in sukka (peace) or dukka (restlessness).  The Buddha sat in stillness for forty-nine days in search of relief from this restless mind.  The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path were his insights from this opening.  Essentially, the ‘dis-ease’ is our stress/suffering.  The cause is our restless mind.  We can alleviate this by ‘letting go’ and maintaining certain practices that deepen our sense of interconnection and awareness to the constantly changing moment.  In the Christian tradition I’m moved by Philippians 4: 6-9:

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen ain me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

In both traditions, the remedy seems to be in finding the ‘no complaint, no complaint’ zone.  Another way to describe it is ‘no struggle’.  This is challenging work, in the face of a constantly changing circumstance.  Holding relaxed presence in the face of the earth quake or conflict is truly the sign of a master.  Our deeper journey seems to be to remove obstacles to Love, to be ‘great full’ for what is, to meet each other’s restless mind in compassion, and at the very least, to not cause harm.

The relaxed, stress free mind seems to be well received by the body.  This mind fully receives the opportunity to participate in the unfolding present moment.  In this full attention the Divine manifests and all is possible.

So try it out.  Just sit, breathing in, breathing out.  No wanting to be back there or in the future somewhere.  Just witness the moment’s opportunity to breath in, deep.  And then to breath out, slow.  Cultivating the desire to really, really, want to be ‘here, now’, seems to be the time tested method for reducing stress and enhancing mindful action.  The evidence can be found in watching the master make the most difficult look effortless, as though completely outside the boundaries of time and space.

That's it. What Next?

Please leave your comment so we know what you think about this article. Trackback URL: Stress Reduction.