This month, to continue the theme of balance, I’d like to have a conversation about stress. Stress energy, to be more specific. Based on my own life experience and what clients tell me, stress energy is perhaps the most significant thing that alters our sense of balance and peace within the body, mind and spirit.
What I’m about to share might be a little “out there” for some of you. But I really encourage you to read on, and choose to have an open mind. This just might be a perspective that can help you lessen stress in your life. You all should know that I wouldn’t write about this if it I didn’t experience it personally; in fact, all of my writings are based on personal experiences or observations with clients, who are real people just like you!
Stress energy is a thing. I have come to see stress energy as a thing. Stress is an energy pattern, separate and distinct from the energy of your own true essence, which is meant to be at peace. Stay with me here…we all create our own states of mind and body through thought and emotion. We might experience something external to ourselves that initiates stress, but it is only through our chosen thoughts and emotions about that which we observed that creates the stress energy. You’ve heard the adage that we create our own reality, and this is a great example of choosing thoughts and emotions that lean either towards peace or stress.
I’m not saying there aren’t horrible things happening in the world and that we should all just choose happy thoughts about them. Yet, even in the face of dramatic events, you have a choice over your response. You could choose boredom over frustration (boredom is a lesser negative emotion than frustration) for example, or hopefulness over boredom. Often times, our choice of thought response is a habit of which we aren’t even consciously aware. Thoughts and emotions are things, too.
The key, friends, is to be aware when your stress response is starting so you have a chance to redirect your thought patterns. Since most people become aware of stress physically (even though it starts mentally), the easiest way to increase your awareness of it is by focusing on how you experience stress energy around your body. And since your thoughts are often habitual at the subconscious level, you may be unaware of them consciously, and therefore you do not have time to actually change your mind about something before it’s too late. I see this often with clients where the space between thought and physical response seems simultaneous.
You can dissipate your stress energy. You can’t be stressed out and relaxed at the same time. It’s just impossible, which is why I spend so much time talking about ways to practice some form of meditation to help you understand what it actually feels like to be at peace. When you can identify with peace and relaxation, you can also more quickly identify when stress is creeping in. Meditation is practice in relaxation; self hypnosis and visualization are also practices in relaxation with suggestions to your subconscious; exercise, journaling, coloring, and consistently maintaining eight hours of sleep every night are all effective tools to help you identify early signs of stress energy, and to help you slow down long enough to be able to choose a better response.
A better response is (almost) always staying calm. The exception is when there really is danger present, and your fight/flight response is there to protect you!
Awareness is a tool. For some of you, stress energy will present itself as though it comes from the belly upward to your chest, almost like water coming to a boil or rising steam. Or, it presents itself like wind blowing from the right or the left, or head-on into your chest or face. Maybe it forms behind your back or shoulders. Mine is like a barbell with a heavy feeling in both my chest and my brain. Start thinking of stress energy as an actual thing with its own mass and flow. Start thinking of yourself as the creator of it!
Practice in Stress Energy Awareness
To start building an awareness of your stress energy, try this exercise. Do it when you’re calm – slow down time, in your mind’s eye, and really get in touch with the experience of stress. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, think of a situation that stresses you out, and bring up the sensation allowing it to flow to your awareness. When you’re ready, ask yourself the following questions and wait for the answers (which also come in the form of thought), write them down so you can reflect on them later:
- From which direction does the stress energy flow towards or around you? Does it rotate, does it move clockwise or counter clockwise?
- How does it feel physically on or around your body? Where do you feel it?
- What temperature is it? What color is it?
- What is a good analogy for what you are experiencing (e.g., boiling water in your chest, whirlwind storm)?
- Once you are in touch with the experience, decide to let it pass. Choose to let go of the stress energy so you are back to ‘normal’. Yes, it is as simple as choosing!The second part of this exercise is to reflect on the experience to find a way to break the pattern. Ask yourself a few more questions:
- When you begin to notice the stress energy build, can you take a few deep breaths to calm the body so the mind can follow?
- When you notice the direction and flow of the stress energy, can you step aside, so to speak, and simply observe it wash past you so it doesn’t stick?
- If it’s hot, can you cool it down? If it’s a deep color, can you make it softer (e.g., change deep red to pink) or higher on the color wheel (e.g., change red to orange or yellow)?
- When you visualize the analogy to your stress energy, can you then imagine and choose an antidote (e.g., stress energy is like boiling water, so a deep exhale to blow away the steam cools it down)?
Understanding and dealing with stress from an energetic perspective isn’t (yet) mainstream. But this topic is important, it’s real, and I experience it personally and profoundly.
But, I get it. It might be hard to start this process when you’re doing it alone, so I invite you to reach out and let’s talk about what this means for you. I am completely confident that your life can be less stressful and more peaceful if you learn how to recognize your stress energy and make a conscious choice for a better pathway.
Let me know how I can be useful to you in your journey!