There are days when my mind feels like the runway of an airport. 🛫 Thoughts come and go like takeoffs and landings, never taking root to be grounded and still. I become distracted at every idea that arises and have no brain power to follow a thought to any conclusion.
Do you ever have one of those days?
Today, stress is upon me. My awareness of striving energy often feels suffocating. When I am stressed out, I often feel backed into a corner, ready to transform into Mr. Hyde.
Stress can bring out the Mr. Hyde within (that's the wiry, jarring side of Dr, Jekyll). Mr. Hyde is apt to snap, snap, and attack. I become a growly bear, 🐻 depleted in my personal reserves to cope or respond. I am reactionary, with the energy of a freight train coursing through my blood!
Although healthy stress exists (the kind that provides productive inertia to one’s ambition), it is not the kind that is with me right now.
I am in my body this morning, experiencing the challenges of balancing life and the demands of the roles I am playing: mom, wife, author, minister, entrepreneur. All those, merely labels. However, they remind me of how I have chosen to show up in the world.
“When have I strayed from my practice of being one with the flow of ease and grace?” I wonder.
Was it when said “Yes!” to writing THE BEST book, planning THE MOST ORGANIZED cross-country relocation, committing to WAY TOO MUCH?
Was it when I said, “Yes!” to be present to my sweet kids, my husband, my friends, my cousins, ALL AT ONCE?
Or was it when I said “Yes!” to the labels I HAVE GIVEN MYSELF so that the world (and I) can identify my place in the world?
Saying “Yes!” to Life is not the problem.
My problem is thinking that I need to orchestrate any of it.
It is my ego ... AGAIN. This is not the first time that I have put the weight of the world on my shoulders. I'm pretty sure that I have not mastered my practice enough to even believe it would be my last time thinking that I need to do it all, in one fell swoop.
Here I am, present to the stress I have created through my inner process. I am stressed because I have once again forgotten, and need to remember that everything gets done in due time. I need to get back to daily practice...
“All Gets Done in Due Time"
Perhaps affirming that "all gets done in due time" doesn’t work for everyone. We are, after all, very different. For some, these 6 words are permission to procrastinate. For me, these 6 words affirm agreement (body, mind, and spirit as one accord) to put the breaks on my run-away ego: my ambition.
I am remembering to remember that I am part of a greater existence that I am not in charge of anything anyway and that nothing belongs to any of us. Everything DOES get done in due time, so long as I get out of my own way.
Rather than being in the flow, and allowing divine guidance to unfold for me (the path I am to take in EACH MOMENT) I have somehow (again) reverted back to childhood patterning of striving and control. I have strayed off the road of presence, and I now need to come back.
Chop Wood, Carry Water
There is a famous Zen proverb that reads: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
In simple terms, this is to bring us back to a beginners mind, to adhere always, to the foundational principles of any practice.
This is similar to Mr. Miyagi's “wax on, wax off” discipline in the 1980s popular movie, Karate Kid. In Karate Kid, Daniel moves with his mother to Southern California and find himself as the new kid on the block. He faces a bunch of bullies who are part of a martial arts dojo. Wanting to defend himself, he befriends Mr. Miyagi, who is an unassuming repairman. Mr. Miyagi also happens to be a martial arts master himself and begins to teach Daniel martial arts. The foundational part of Daniel’s training and discipline is to wax windows in a particular way. Using a specific technique to wax on, and wax off, Mr. Miyagi trains Daniel, through muscle memory and fierce determination, the basic components to defend himself. In the climax of the movie, Daniel defeats his opponents by remembering the foundational principle of what he is taught - and defeats the bullies in a martial arts tournament.
When Chopping Wood and Carrying Water Becomes Vital
Presence is all about coming back to practice the foundations.
Through mindful awareness, I am aware of the feeling of the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I feel this because I have strayed away from remembering that I am one with the life that breathes me. Somehow, even after decades of practice, I am humbly reminded today, right here, as I type this up, that awareness brings the gift of grace.
The illusion of thinking I am (rather than Spirit is) in charge has gotten me here. And because I am graced by the allness of the power that breathes me, I, too, can make a different decision.
It is in these times that I realize the immense value of the discipline: to chop wood, and carry water.
When I feel fickle [when fickle is upon me], I find myself caught in the middle of something I absolutely know I NEED TO DO (for my own well-being) and what I absolute DO NOT WANT to do for no good reason at all.
This is when I KNOW that I am stressed.
Effects and Symptoms of Stress
Stress is defined as physical, mental or emotional strain or tension (Dictionary.com). If you are dealing with an issue where you feel depleted, and in short supply of resources to deal with it, you may be in good company.
The American Institute of Stress indicates that people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress is 77%. Out of 100 people, 73 claim to experience psychology symptoms due to stress. Stress negativity impacts our lives, personal and professional. resulting in both physiological and psychological symptoms.
Physical symptoms of stress manifest themselves in fatigue, headaches, unsteady stomach, muscle tension and appetite change. Psychological symptoms include irritability/ anger, lack of energy, and anxiety. These symptoms may manifest itself as burden, pressure, strain or struggle. Do these symptoms sound somewhat familiar to you?
If you are exhausted and you feel these symptoms in your body, you are stressed. Everyone has days like this, but few care to stop and take a look. Long-term effects of these symptoms may cause illness and dis-ease.
There are days, like today, that I become particularly sensitive to my fleeting thoughts and the butterflies in my tummy. With so much flying about, talking about what stresses me out frankly, stresses me out. At a point of overwhelm, it becomes unproductive to even talk about it because I am unable to pinpoint the source of my anxiety.
What are you to do if words cannot describe the stress that has invaded your being-ness?
SDB: The Stress Response (TM) as a Solution to Stress
In times like these, when I catch myself fickle and my soul fleeting, I implement SDB: The Stress Response (TM).
SDM stands for: “stop, drop and breath.” It is exactly as it sounds – a three-step process of stopping, dropping and simply breathing.
I stop what I am doing, I drop into a state of stillness and I breathe.
Whether at the moment or lost in space, I simply stop, coming to presence with myself. I cease movement, close my outer eyes and breath.
I stop and I breathe.
Begin again and repeat.
When my awareness goes from head to heart, mind to body, I drop…
Where ever I may be, in whatever motion that calls to me, I remember the place of the most high — the life within my being. Seeking solace in the still small voice: wise, steady and intuitive. I allow my waking consciousness to drop all pretenses, to gather again and bring back my sacred energy. I call for a reunion of all versions of me to come home to myself – returning back to the heart of Truth.
When all of me arrives home – energetic, emotional, psychic, soul and heart alike – in one consciousness, I arrive at stillness. It is then that I become ready to integrate step 3: breath.
I strive to go nowhere, simply to be. I am in the present moment, my breath and I. In a space of awareness, I am one with breath and conscious awareness. All cares and concerns have fallen away, creating spaciousness. In the expansive possibilities of this infinite space, I listen.
I breathe and I keep my mouth shut, and my ears open. Simply listening to the message that is me, myself and I. I do not simply listen for the message, I become the message itself.
Sharing My Practice
My experience of breath takes me to the place of the most high. In the stillness, the still small voice emerges with timeless wisdom.
In my case, my message affirms what has always been true for me: “Spirit’s in charge.”
Just like that, I affirm my Truth. It doesn’t matter what I have lived through as a child. My path brings me to my present.
“Spirit’s in charge.” I relinquish my need for control, yet another time in a series of million and one in this lifetime.
“Spirit’s in charge.” I am present to this moment, the only moment that I can do anything about.
Transforming Stress Into Action and Affirming What's Present Today
And today, I chose differently. I remember to return to my breath, the life that breathes me.
Today, I chose differently, I remember that I am one with the Spirit that animates me.
Today, I chose differently, I remember the soul that I am, who I’ve come to be, and not what I’ve come to do.
I choose to be a human being, not a human doing.
Today, I chose differently, I slow down to stillness, release my striving, and therefore, my suffering.
Today, I chose differently. I remember the divinity within, recognizing the gift and the blessing of my humanity. This is how I chose to show up in the world.
The holy trinity of Father, Son, Spirit; Mother, Daughter, and Soul, as One speaks. In this well of knowledge, healing nourishment, love, I make myself available as a channel to which wisdom flows.
This is how I transform dysfunctional stress into functional action. Through the process of stopping, dropping and breathing, I equip myself to respond, and not react . I come home to the sacred spirit that lives in, through and as me now.
* * * * * * * * * *
Please Raise Awareness and Share The Love ❤️
Dear Friends, As you are willing and called, please share your thoughts on stress:
What is stressing you out today?
What are constant stressors in your life?
How do you normally cope with stress?
Are you aware that you might be living out a childhood pattern?
Do you Stop-Drop-and-Breathe? Have you tried it?
What is your favorite way to relax and destress?