The Nature of Stress
By remembering that stress is a feeling created by thought, you will find it easier to come back to your innate well-being - that place within you that is always calm and balanced.
How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:
Put aside everything you think you already know.
Open your mind and heart to receive something new.
Take your time going through each point.
Return to any points that particularly touch you.
In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.
* All quotes are by George Pransky, from the book: Life Is a Metaphor
1. Mind Created Stress Particles
"People often think of stress as if it were particles floating in the air. They imagine those stress particles sticking to anything that causes them stressful thoughts and feelings.
They think that some people have lots of particles around them, which is why those people are stressful to be around. Or they think that some places, like office buildings or hospitals, collect more stress particles than other places, such as parks or vacation resorts.
They carry the mistaken belief that they have to find a way to live with the stress particles, that stress is a given in life.
In response to this misguided outlook, people do one of two things. They either try their best to minimize interactions with stress particles, or they take on stress management practices to help them get rid of the stress particles they pick up throughout the day.
In reality, stress particles don't exist on people or places, or even events or circumstances. Instead, it is solely people's thoughts that can generate stress.
Our minds are amazing stress manufacturers. They can make anything appear to be an outside cause of stress, even when our minds are the true culprits."
It seems as though so many things are responsible for the stress that we experience, doesn't it? There's the state of the world and the people and circumstances in our own lives - so much we can blame for feeling the way we do.
But there is a deeper, more accurate understanding of what's really going on, and that is that our mind is manufacturing all the stress we experience through the thoughts we have about what's happening.
Noticing that your life experience is always being created from the inside out instead of from the outside in can be truly life-changing.
2. Realistic Special Effects
"Everyone gets a little squeamish watching horror movies, even though we know we are safe sitting in our theater seats. We may experience moments of fear, stress, dread, and panic.
In any other situation, those are the states of mind we do our best to avoid. Yet, in the context of a movie theater, we choose to experience those feelings. In fact, we enjoy them.
And once we leave the theater, we no longer carry those feelings with us. We are able to leave them at the door.
How can that be?
Movie goers experience the reality of a movie, while also understanding that the reality is being artificially constructed by a skilled production company and the use of special effects. In this way, movie goers are emotionally protected because they know they don't have to take the reality they are presented with seriously.
Consciousness is the ultimate production company, providing the most powerful and compelling special effects. It is what gives us our ability to build our realities, and it makes those realities feel real and true to us.
When we see that our experiences are just artificially constructed as that of a cinematic movie, our negative feelings like stress or fear become less important to us."
How often do you get caught up in the special effects of your life movie? When you understand that you are the one creating the special effects (innocently and unconsciously) there's no reason to be afraid of your experience.
Just like when watching a scary movie, you don't have to take the reality you're presented with seriously.
3. Built-in Protection
"People have a physical immune system that protects their health. When a person gets sick, their immune system kicks in to protect the body and aid in recovery.
You could say that people also have what could be called a psychological immune system.
The psychological immune system protects us from taking on stress, and when we do take on stress it helps us to quickly release it and return to a state of mental well-being.
Just like our physical immune system, our psychological immune system grows stronger over time.
As we learn more about how the mind works, the situations that would once cause us stress no longer have as much negative effect on our psychological well-being. We gain immunity from stress."
This metaphor points us to our incredible, innate well-being. When you understand the nature of thought and how it creates your human experience, so much stress naturally falls away.
Our psychological immune system is strengthened by the weakening of our misconceptions and mistaken beliefs - beliefs that cause us to blame something outside of ourselves for the way we feel, when only our thoughts can affect the way we feel.
Imagine how resilient you would be if you knew that you were only ever feeling your present moment thinking. You wouldn't give so much meaning to your stressful thoughts. You would see through them and, in doing so, they would lose their power over you.
4. Caused by a Busy Mind
"We are all familiar with common mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, but we are less familiar with the overactive mind as a form of mental illness.
In fact, some people pride themselves on the speed at which their minds work. Then there are people who see mental overwhelm as a necessary part of life or "a reality in this day and age."
We often believe an overly active mind is a natural response to a highly active life. In reality, we can have a very busy life, while still enjoying a quiet mind.
A busy mind may very well be the most unrecognized cause of stress."
For a moment, recognize your busy mind, not as something you do which you should stop doing, but as something that you are.
When you are lost in thought (in this context we're talking about thoughts that are repetitive and not useful) you're absent from life and you lose the capacity to deal with what's actually happening. You also miss out on the experience of deep connection with the world around you, the people in it, and your true self.
By noticing your busy mind, you instantly return to the present moment and experience quiet in the midst of all of life. Check-in with yourself throughout today: are you showing up as the busy mind or the quiet mind? Are you absent or present in life?
5. The Spead of Life
"This was what was called fun when we were kids. The barrel in our local park was six feet high and twenty feet long. Kids would climb in it and run to keep up with its rotations. We would tumble and fall over each other, giggling the entire time.
One day I got motion sickness, so I stepped out of the barrel and sat on the bench and watched my friends play for a while. I noticed that the barrel had no mechanism turning it. It had no engine. What was turning it? I realized that the kids inside stepping on the barrel are what made it rotate.
When you're in the barrel, you think that you are catching up with the barrel spinning. In actual fact, every step you take is making the barrel go faster.
That is our relationship with life. When we get sped up and our thoughts start racing, we think we are catching up with life. What we are actually doing is making life appear to go faster.
It is just the higher speed of thought that makes the world seem stressful and fast-paced."
Sometimes going through your day can feel like having motion sickness, feeling dizzy and totally off balance with everything that's going on. Remembering an earlier metaphor about realistic special effects, we can understand that everything appears to be happening from the outside in but it's actually all happening from the inside out.
A thought arises, you give it attention, it takes you into the past or future, it creates feelings in you, and sometimes you act on those feelings. And the whole process repeats itself. Until you see what's happening and how it works. Then you become aware and that awareness changes the hamster wheel of your life experience.
6. Trains Passing in the Night
"It's just a thought is the most powerful phrase in the English language. Recognizing and dismissing thought, as just a thought, is the antidote to chronic mental illness.
But when thought doesn't look like thought, it instead looks like reality.
Once thought looks like reality, it becomes important and consequential to the thinker.
The paradox is that thought is powerless to affect our lives unless we give it that power by believing it. When we believe in thought, it is the most powerful force in the world.
However, when we recognize thought for what it is, thought will pass through our mind uneventfully, like trains passing in the night."
By remembering that stress is a feeling created by thought, you will find it easier to come back to your innate well-being - that place within you that is always calm and balanced. Just like the bottom of a lake is always still, no matter what the weather on the surface, you are already the stillness and wisdom which you seek in a thought storm.
When you feel stressed, recognize what's happening: the trains of thought are coming and going, carrying you off with them into oblivion. The more you become aware of what's happening within you, the more you become like the train station, simply allowing the trains of thought to come and go without getting carried away with them.