Are you in the midst of creating a business? Are you leading a large organization, or some part of it? Are you staffing a small non-profit? Chances are you experience stress on a regular basis. Stress comes in different packages, from all sides.
Essentially and always as you experience stress, you are in one place and you want to be in another place. You are getting one result, and you need another. You see suffering, you want to change it. There is opportunity, and you want to take advantage of it. But there is often stress as well. Skillful Means says there can be these conditions without (or at least a lot less) stress. How is that possible?
Tension is normal and stress is not. With change, whether desired or undesired, there a is very natural tension. Think about how much tension is created when a flower blooms! Stress happens when we try to block the normal dynamic flow of change and tension.
How can we work more effectively with change and avoid or even dissolve stress? Some helpful first steps…
1. Acknowledge on a deep level, you are where you are. Your situation may be clear, or not so clear, there are likely a lot of good things going on where you are, as well as perhaps difficulty. Just see it. Close your eyes for a brief moment, take 3 very deep breaths, then open your eyes and “see” what surrounds you. No judgment necessary. Just see. Really, try not to interpret it or judge it.
If you are really honest, there is a lot you have already been successful with or you would not be where you are. Take a moment and APPRECIATE this. So, you can relax. This is where you are. The good and the difficult are both present together – this is normal! Be here now, as Rass Dass liked to say.
2. Be happy you would like things to be better. Simply ask, ‘how can I make things better today?’ Is there 1 thing I can do that would clearly help?
Now do some thing that may really help…
3. Can you be aware of your physical movements as you do one thing? It is challenging to do this in front of a computer, but not impossible. Let’s start not in front of the computer (so read this on the computer and then try it).
Stand up, feel your feet on the ground. Feel your breath and let your arms rise slowly to their sides, palms slightly cupped. Move slowly until your hands meet above your head. Stretch slightly, then let your hands slowly and gently move back down to your sides. Be aware of each muscle, each subtle movement required for your whole arm to move in space.
So you are aware of 2 things:
Do one full repetition of the movement as you become aware of breath and movement. They become united.
4. Once the movement and breath are stable, shift your focus. Movement and breath will continue. Now, can you be aware of the space you are in? Do the full movement one last time.
Can you be aware of the space around your arms, the space around your body, the space you are moving through? No space escapes you. You are aware of each inch of it. Gaps in awareness begin to shrink.
This exercise is called ‘Flying’. Its comes from Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga.
Now see if you can practice this as you type at your computer, as you walk across the room, as you have a cup of tea. Take time to become aware of 1) your movement, 2) your breath (both together), 3) space you are moving in.
Can you do this at least 3 times today with different activities? You don’t have to always move slowly, you can move quickly, but maintain your awareness of breath, movement and space.
How does this work for you? What is it like to shift your focus this way, even when you are doing important things?
What is the effect on your feelings of stress? I would love to know! Can you try ‘Flying’ right now? How does it feel to do this?
What are other ways to transform stress or at least make things easier? Please – I want to hear your thoughts!