Our reaction can decrease stress. When the pressure of world events feels so heavy, there is only one lasting solution. We choose to adjust our response.
A Metaphor of Arrows
During my morning meditation with Anushka Fernandopulle with the app from Ten-Percent Happier, she asked me to imagine a troublesome event as an arrow piercing my body. It hurts. But when we take on even more stress in our reaction, the one indicator becomes many, piercing our flesh until we completely shut down.
How to Remove the Arrows
I will lead you through a meditation that gives you the tools to reduce stress in your body. When your body rests, the mind follows.
Furthermore, I invite you to record the next section as you read it aloud, going through the motions to give yourself time to breathe and relax for a ten-minute meditation. Then you can play the recording whenever you want a break from stress.
Take a Break from Stress
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. For example, your feet are flat on the floor if you sit in a chair. Relax the belly.
If laying down, allow your feet to fall to the sides naturally. Relax your arms either alongside your body or resting on your belly. Close your eyes if you’d like, or have a soft gaze on the floor or your chest.
Softly inhale through your nose, gently releasing the exhale. Repeat this a few times while noticing any tension in the face or shoulders.
Now take a slightly deeper breath and release the tension in your face on the out-breath. Take another deep breath and release the tension in your shoulders on the out-breath. Once more, breathe in deeply. Notice where you hold tension in your body and release it on the out-breath.
Allow your breath to return to a normal rhythm.
As you gently breathe in and out, imagine a tiny splinter in the tense area of your body loosening its grip. The tiny sliver eases out more with each out-breath until it falls out and disappears.
Continue gently breathing in and out until you feel relaxed throughout your body.
Begin to move your fingers and toes, returning to a more awake state. Please open your eyes, perhaps fluttering them a little at first. Now, look at the objects in the room or the space around you.
Take a nice cleansing breath and begin a less stressful day or evening.
A Few Final Thoughts
It is easy to revert to an overstressed condition when we engage in spending time on our cell phones, watching the news, reading the newspaper, or rehashing world events with friends and family.
Our reaction can decrease stress. We can choose to act differently. For some, it is easiest to go cold turkey by silencing the cell phone or removing it to another room.
You can mute the news on the radio or television, change the channel, or remove yourself to a different room. Perhaps you can enjoy a book or go outside.
Be gentle with yourself. Take these suggestions as just that, suggestions. And always make changes one step at a time.