The American Medical
Stress is a complex combination of physiological responses caused by any particular stimulus (good or bad/internal or external). Often we think only of negative life circumstances that cause stress (divorce, illness, loss, traffic, deadlines, difficult relationships, financial obligations, etc.). Surprisingly, even positive life events and experiences can evoke a stress response. Things you might not think are stressful, like marriage, pregnancy, a new job, a promotion, or even purchasing a new home. It can sometimes feel like dealing with stress is a full-time job! When we encounter a PERCEIVED threat, our body automatically goes into a state of high alert. This, we commonly refer to as fight/flight. When the flight or fight response is evoked, it brings into play the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic, or involuntary, nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system acts by secreting specific hormones:
Humans tend to live in a heightened state of alert from lesser but more persistent stress. So much so, that we become literally chemically toxic and depleted. Thus, we find ourselves seemingly always dealing with stress. In effect, to varying degrees, we walk around unable to see the big picture, think clearly, listen well, or fight infection and dis-ease. Long-term chronic stress can have detrimental effects on our health. We may not be able to control the stressors in our life, but we can deal with stress better. As I mentioned earlier, stress can be internal or external. Most of us believe that stress is caused by an external event or circumstance outside of our control: illness, loss, or dealing with a difficult person. Well, my friends, the truth will set you free. ALL stress is internal. Our thoughts, interpretations, and perceptions of an outside event, person, or stimulus are the direct cause of the fight/flight response. Science has proven this theory called the mind-body connection. The thoughts in our mind create our reality. Stress included. This is liberating because it means with awareness and practice, we can reduce the amount of stress and suffering we experience no matter what our life circumstances are. The bad news is that about 80% of our thoughts are unconscious, and many of them are not even
OBSERVE: Watch the Thinker
Do the best you can to find a quiet environment with little or no distractions. Sit comfortably with your spine tall. Set a timer for three to five minutes. Start with three and work your way up to five. Close your eyes and JUST OBSERVE what it. OBSERVE the moment as it is. OBSERVE your breath. Don't change it. Try and breathe deeply, don't judge
What did you observe? This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding a realm of inner stillness essential for being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering. The voice that belongs to your conditioned mind is not you. You are the watcher, the observer. The more you identify with the observer, the less stress and suffering you experience. Identifying with your mind can create an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words,
Watching, Counting Your Breath
Similar to the last exercise, do the best you can to find a quiet environment with little or no distractions. Sit comfortably with
The more you PRACTICE, the longer you can sustain your focus and concentrate on one thing. You will get what you focus on. Until now, most of us have been unaware of the unconscious thoughts in our head. The ones that cause us stress and suffering. When you become aware of the thoughts in your head, especially those that don't serve you, you can consciously start to change them. In doing so, you will reduce stress and enjoy life more.
About Karen Sehgal
Karen has spent her life dedicated to the study of the mind,
Combat stress with the powerful natural adaptogen
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