Stress comes in many forms.
Physiological, Psycho-spiritual, Emotional, Etheric or Spiritual, Inner and Outer Influences
Stress relief also comes in many forms.
Relaxation, Reframing, Rewiring, Emotional Release, Balancing, Management, Abatement
All stresses are interrelated and cyclical, one level creating the next and circling back to its origins.
It’s certainly possible for a singular and potentially exclusive, sort of self-contained, form of stress to exist–like digestive stress that is nutritionally related; or a threatening situation that is completely resolved when it ends. Even so, there is usually a deeper reason for, or a result of its presence.
How can we get to the roots of our stress?
Depending on learning and growth styles coupled with the many ways you access, embrace and integrate information, you can begin to relieve stress from various points of entry: through the mind, the body, the emotions, and spiritual energy.
Changing eating and nutritional habits, taking supplements, yoga and other conscious movement, therapy, self-reflection, and any of their subsets or similar modalities, are all potential gateways to stress relief. Like any incident that imprints stress, these gateways will help you to unravel the threads of stress on multiple levels.
In the case of digestion, it’s a good idea to remove the food that creates the stress! This is a physiological gateway that has potential to lead you down a path of discovery where ideas, experiences and more deeply rooted and stressful states of being might exist.
We’re getting closer to the origins of stress now.
Once the food is eliminated from the diet for a period of time, you can become more aware of your choices to eat it and what triggers the desire for this type of food. At this point questions like “what does it do for me,” “what are my beliefs about this food,” “can I live without it, can I live with less,” “what emotions does it cover or elicit,” can be answered.
Here, the path begins to narrow, becoming more focused.
In the Yoga Sutras, abstention from harmful practices is the first discipline of righteous living. “Harm none,” including the self, is omnipresent in these precepts. If you want to explore the origins of stress, this is a good platform from which to begin your journey toward relieving stress, and it will most likely create more as you become more aware of what lies beneath; for a little while anyway.
The “food” here may truly be food, or it could be a metaphor for anything you cannot digest or assimilate properly. Now we’re sitting at the gateways of thought, emotion, ideas and other energies.
Ultimately, all stress can be traced back to the mid-brain (read emotional brain) where our memories are stored as emotions. The hypothalamus is the body’s regulator. It controls body temperature, perceives any potential threat to the body, and communicates with the pituitary gland. A healthy hypothalamus is really important to alleviating emotional imbalance and stress, however minor.
Maybe we hated mashed-up bananas (replace bananas with peas or liver if it helps) as a child. The texture and smell created an emotional memory causing nausea upon seeing a banana even 20 years later. These memories, however minor or grand, set the stage for future emotions like fear, resistance and anxiety, especially if someone forced you to eat the hated banana mush!
Once we are cognizant of the reaction (emotion) now triggered by the mere sight of bananas, we can actually begin to resolve the stress that becomes an emotional memory stored deep in the limbic system.
Emotional stress eventually causes physiological and mental stress, it creates hardening (hard-wiring and calcification) of body parts, beliefs, and even the thought forms in the energy field that surrounds us. So even if your stress is banana-related, the emotion around the “force-feeding” becomes the present time foundation for reaction.
It’s your choice. Do you want to resolve this banana anxiety?
Maybe all it takes is seeing the banana differently, as a simple yellow fruit rather than a poison or a perpetrator waving a yellow sword. Try eating that banana sliced on top of your cereal while relaxing outdoors on a brilliant summer morning, feeling the warm breeze on your skin. Love that banana.
Who knows, maybe you’ll change your interpretation of bananas!
More on the Physiology of Stress
Outer World Dramatization
Ironically, many of the more constant stresses in our lives as adults often begin with minor occurrences as children. Our perceptions about these circumstances may not change through-out life, though if we look at things from this place in time, we can see that our interpretations of those experiences were more emotional in our sensitive youth and less so as an adult.
Maybe you fell off your tricycle as a kid and someone made fun of you or screamed at you to “stop, before you get run over by a car!” That’s enough to create a whole lot of fear around riding bikes. It’s also about the transference of someone else’s fear into your being. What if that fear imprint came from something much more traumatizing than a bike or a banana?
So now you realize that your stress is not even your own, yet your mind and body carry, like a newborn baby, this discordant vibration of fear.
With time, our mind’s responses about similar “little” experiences become more nonchalant. As we mature—the picture of a fear-filled, screaming Mom envisioning the death of her child in present time often looks more like over-reactivity and even a bit silly. Yet, the intensity of our unresolved emotional memories, coupled with the Mom’s emotional transmission in this adult moment, increases the trauma because the emotional bits of our experiences have been pushed down, left for dead, growing inside of us like a mold. They’ve just been reawakened.
Somehow we need to express the memories—both old and new, then reframe them.
These repeat moments are perfect times to release the old, stuck memories. They’ve just been awakened by something in the now, they are on the surface of your being. Your awareness and conscientiousness can destroy the spores of old, right now. Just say hello, thanks, and goodbye.
If you are working with a current stress event, try not to reframe it too early in the cycle. Instead, be sure to acknowledge how very real your stress is, how very real the emotions and physical pain are, along with your fear of repeating this event. Be with your fear, but don’t indulge in it.
Think about times when you felt pain and some one told you to suck it up. Don’t suck it up anymore. It will fester and become much grander in scale when it is reawakened.
For example, if you’ve just been in a traffic accident, you will want to nurture yourself and allow the fear to express itself naturally before trying to reorganize the experience. Otherwise it may become repressed and much more challenging to excavate later.
Repressed emotions often surface as anxiety and panic.
Anxiety is in the stress family, along with worry, angst, resentment, anger, dread and terror. Essentially anything unexpressed has the potential to become stress in your body, your mind, your emotional and other automatic response mechanisms. Some people eat or drink a lot, and they eat poorly to boot, while under stress. This is the cycle at work.
Stress at this point also has the ability to keep you down, incapable of progress on any level. You’ll spin your wheels a lot, circling around to the same point over and over again, wondering why you can’t reach your goals. There you sit, you can see freedom above you, yet you can’t seem to reach out and touch it, much less embrace it fully.
Aware of the freedom out there or not, you still butt up against the same glass ceiling.
Part of our blockage is the self-restraint and imprisonment that is built-in to our ideas about fear. We often see the expression of such states of being as challenging and painful, so instead of scratching that bone-level itch, we ignore it and take another ignorance pill. No news there. Worse, the old patterns or responses are often pretty entrenched—so much so, knowledge of their existence comes up and goes away without conscious.
Self-inquiry, observation and reflection, self-healing by making new choices such as changing your nutritional program (whether real or metaphorical food), and taking practical action steps each day will start you on the road to expanded awareness, awakening, release and cultivation of new energies and healthier habits on any level. This alone will unravel more of the threads that bind you.
More on stress and self reflection.
Awareness decreases stress greatly. Acceptance can abate it.
And here’s the good news. There are ways to alchemize or shift the energy of events in any moment so there is never a negative emotional memory or any ensuing stress. When this happens, there is no residual effect at all. You never need suffer the agonizing consequences of swallowing another avoidance pill, ever.
This means there is both awareness and simultaneous expression of energy within the experience. This is based on a foundation of the deeper truth that no one and nothing else exists. Translation: your reality is all there is and your reality creates the whole thing, so why not shift your thoughts to create a new reality?
It doesn’t mean ignoring, avoiding or denying a certain very painful situation, nor does it mean pretending you are blissed-out. It simply means your interpretation comes from (your reality is built on) an enlightened, fully accepting, non-dualistic state of being.
In this sense, you are using your a sacred blend of your original essence and your personal power in this body, in this time, to see life through a very different inner experience.
This is mastery.
We’ll be talking more about specific areas and symptoms of stress (like anxiety and panic), as well as how to shift out of stress mode in the weeks to come. It’s amazing to imagine that the center of your head (6th chakra, seat of your wisdom and clear perception) is also the core of the healing process for any kind of stress.