I've had the same conversation with several clients this week which means one of two things: it's something I need to take note of myself or people are having a shared human experience and we need some skills to deal. This is what I'm hearing... people, myself included, want less stress and more time. Some people even fantasize about being able to stop time to catch their breath. Can you relate? Our schedules are full, our lives are busy (sometimes with fun stuff, but oftentimes with not-so-fun stuff) and the energy to keep up is taking a toll on our bodies and minds.
We all know we should do less or at least take a look at what stressors we can eliminate. We're well aware that we're supposed to be prioritizing and scheduling our self-care. In fact, a whole industry has been built on the fact that women NEED massages and spa days and happy hours because our lives are so hard. If you aren't doing them by the way, you aren't taking good care of yourself.
Or perhaps you've already scaled back and are doing less than you used to and yet unanticipated events have landed you right back in Stress-ville.
We've all heard how we're supposed to mitigate our stressful lives with relaxation, but what if you can't afford a massage every week? Or the babysitter to get a night out with your friends? What if you can't actually quit your job right now or leave the relationship you know is slowly killing you? And what if can't prevent stressful things from happening to you or others around you (think fender bender, sick kid or parent)? Are we doomed to just suffer the effects of our stressful lives as well as the shame that we aren't taking good care of ourselves?
I don't think so. I think there's another way and its actually easily accessible. Anytime. No babysitter required. Anyone can do it. It begins with realizing we have the ability to notice what stress feels like in our bodies and minds and then choosing to shift those sensations from stress to ease. Sounds nice, huh?
Learning this practice will not only help us actively counteract the physiologic stress coursing through our bodies (which we know has long term health consequences in addition to the short-term discomfort), but shifting from stress to ease also induces a sense of spaciousness or wider perspective from which we can act more effectively and efficiently. It actually creates time! Chronic tension and stress constrict our flow of energy, like a kink in a hose. We have to work harder and harder to produce the same outcome and often with devastating effects on our bodies and our relationships. Shifting from stress to ease unkinks the hose and allows our natural, limitless energy to flow freely.
So let's do this differently! Let's say No to the cultural pressure of more, more, more. Do more. Be more. Accomplish more. Let's lead the revolution of easeful living! And then see what kind of positive changes we can make in our lives, the lives of those around us, and the world at large.
There are many ways to shift into ease (observing your breath, tensing and relaxing muscle groups, yoga) but let's start with this simple one-minute practice adapted from Cate Stillman of yogahealer. com.
Whenever you notice stress is taking over your body or mind...
Take a moment to feel the ground or earth beneath you. Drop your awareness into the sensations of where your feet or body meet the earth or the chair below you. Feel how the earth is always there for you. Always supporting you.
Then shift your attention to the sky or heavens above you. Look up. Take in the sky, the clouds, the sun. Sense the vastness that's beyond.
Allow your awareness to shift between the two. Steady, supportive, life-giving earth below you. Beautiful, spacious, awe-inspiring sky above.
Notice as you do this you feel more expansive. Notice your awareness feels more spacious. Observe the tension melting from your body as you shift into ease.
I'd love to hear how this goes for you. Leave your comments, insights and inspirations below or on my Facebook Page.