Your report is overdue. You’ve heard rumors at work, and you wonder if your job is the next one to be cut. Your wife says if you’re late one more time you’re sleeping on the couch. Your kid just failed his third grade spelling test. YouÂ desperately needÂ another cup of coffee because you were up late last night worrying if you could make your mortgage payment. Everyday you turn on the news there’s nothing but bad news. Terrorists. Shootings. You look forward to the weekend only to find put of tasks beginning to grow out of hand, out of reach. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
You are stressed. Perhaps you have a little big of high blood pressure. Perhaps your doctor even recommended something about that. Of course, he likely didn’t give you any helpful advice. Maybe a handful of pills that your insurance wouldn’t pay for. He just told you of the dangers of stress, and in telling you how many different ways it can kill you, probably made it even worse. I won’t tell you that most doctors think that stress is behind fully 75% of illnesses today. I won’t tell you that stress is directly responsible habits such as drinking, smoking, over eating, that can cause a slew of health problems, and shorten your life by ten years or more. I’m sure that you already knew that.
Because you are sitting there now, reading this, inÂ that chair, you can naturallyÂ begin to realize that you are about to discover the secret that can beat stress before it even starts. Not that stress is all bad. You need a little bit in life to keep you motivated. You can keep the good stress. Competition among peers, a slight bit of frustration that naturally turns into curiosity to give your brain a boost as you are about to learn something new here.
I’m talking about the deadly, useless stress that only seems to make everything worse. That is what you need to get rid of.
The secret? A combination of your breath, appreciation, and choice. Sounds hokey. Sounds metaphysical. Sounds like some goofy tip you’d read in a free online article (wait a sec..). But guess what? It works. The more you practice it, the sooner you will realize that because it is up to you to choose how to respond to your environment, it is you that can decide to feel stress, or not. It may not seem like that now, but after you give this a go, I mean a serious effort, and keep practicing, you’ll your life change for the better.
Ready to learn? Ok, here we go.
If you can try now, fantastic. Otherwise try it at home or when you won’t be disturbed for a couple minutes. It takes a couple minutes to learn, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it in the middle of a heated conversation and nobody will be the wiser.
Take in a deep breath, hold it just a bit, and then exhale. After you exhale, wait a little bit before you inhale again. Wait until you build up a fairly strong desire for oxygen. Then inhale slowly, and as you do so, feel a deep sense of appreciation for the air you are breathing (I said this was hokey, right?). You might need to try this a few times and really feel the gratitude for the air, the oxygen, whose absence would surely kill you must faster than any amount of stress.
Then when your lungs are full, hold it again. And really imagine all the molecules in your lungs greedily extracting the oxygen from the air and transferring it to your red blood cells, to carry and feed your body. Delicious nutritious oxygen food that keeps you alive. Just before you breath out, when you are feeling the gratitude for the gift of life from the air you breath everyday, say to yourself:
and then as you breath out slowly, again say to yourself:
And let it sink in, really sink in that it is up to you to choose all your reactions to the world. All the ways you respond to how people treat you. From your wife of fifty years to the guy that bumped into you on the way to the bus stop. It is up to you to wish things were different, to figure out a way to extract what you want from your circumstances. It is up to youÂ to choose to be a victim,Â orÂ a victor.Â It is up to you to feel stressed, or feel relaxed. It is up to you toÂ give in to hypertension, and take bottle after bottle of pills that may or may not work. The choice is,Â has always been, and always will be yours.
You can practice these three anywhere. Walking, driving, sitting, watching movies, even during sex. The more you practice the easier it gets and the more it will become second nature to you.