How can we eliminate stress? That is one of the most common questions asked in the twenty first century with one of the most elusive answers!
Well, in order to eliminate stress we should first realise what it is and where it comes from.
A typical dictionary definition explains stress as: “a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part.”
Well when we experience stress in our lives it often feels as though an external (or sometimes internal) force is pressing against our lives. This causes a great deal of anguish and frustration to the person suffering which mainly comes from unwanted harassing thoughts and negative emotions. These thoughts and emotions cause imbalance, to a greater or lesser degree, within the mind, which if persisted in will eventually cause an imbalance in the body!
So when connected to people we can give a clearer definition of ‘Stress’ as “a state of heightened emotional and mental imbalance caused by internal or external forces in one’s life”.
So what internal or external forces can cause this emotional and mental imbalance in one’s life?
At first this appears to be an almost impossible question to answer. There can be numerous causes of stress. They range from the more trivial – having a bad day at work – to the more serious – dreading an impending catastrophic event. However, if we look at all the apparent causes of stress closely we can see the root cause, which is always the same! What is it? Well it’s very simple.
Stress is caused when we want things, situations or people to be different from they are! Basically, it’s when we want things to be the way we want them to be but they just don’t change. Remember the dictionary definition of stress – “a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part.” We are desiring things to be different and when they stay the same (regardless of our actions) we experience stress. Our force of ‘will’ i.e. our ‘wanting’ the situation to change is exerting force on the situation. However, the situation remains the same and you know what happens when two forces in opposite directions collide – the stronger force wins! In such situations it is our desire that becomes compressed or twisted.
Ok, now we know that stress has its roots in ‘desire’ it becomes much easier to find a way to eliminate it.
Many mystical and religious traditions have told us that in order to achieve enlightenment or attain our fondest dreams we need merely achieve a desire-less state! Unfortunately not many tell us how to do this! Many tell us that in order to have something we must first stop wanting it!
This seems a strange concept but it does have solid foundations. If we desire something to the point of stressing ourselves about it, then our behaviour becomes grasping and we have little or no chance of gaining that which we desire.
Fortunately though, there is a simple effective way of eliminating such grasping desires from your life called ‘releasing’. This technique is not new but it is highly effective and little known in the western world.
Let us look again at our new definition of stress and how we can use it to eliminate stress on the spot in any situation. Our definition states that stress is “a state of heightened emotional and mental imbalance caused by internal or external forces in one’s life”. So how do we use this? Well firstly, the next time you experience a feeling of stress (try to pick a time when you are only slightly uptight until you get the hang of this), stop what you are doing for a moment and ask yourself “what do I want to be different in this situation/person/event?” – you are identifying your thoughts behind the stress.
Then, once you have identified these thoughts, ask yourself “how does that make me feel?” – you are identifying the emotions behind the thoughts.
Let’s take an example. You are at work and the boss wants you to get all your work finished by 5 o’ clock but you know that this is impossible but feel a mounting pressure to succeed at the task. You find yourself rushing around doing ten things at once all the time feeling more and more stressful. So, you ask the first question – “what do I want to be different in this situation/person/event?” The answer may be, “I want my boss to stop putting me under pressure”. – You have identified some the thoughts behind the stress.
Next you ask “how does that make me feel?” The answer to this may be “I feel unappreciated!” – You have identified one of the feelings behind your thoughts.
Now for one moment stop trying to suppress that emotion and fully feel it. Allow yourself to delve into that feeling and experience it and then ‘let it go’. Imagine it is a spent force escaping through your stomach. Do this several times, as it takes seconds to perform. Within a few repetitions you will start to feel your stress ease away effortlessly. Keep asking the questions as there may be several reasons behind your stress or you may need to ‘release’ a particularly deep-seated emotion a few times before it is gone. Try it, you may just be surprised at the results!