Stress is a normal response to situational pressures or demands and is a part of everyday life. But chronic stress can lead to mental health problems and medical issues – CAMH
Stress is a warning that something is happening that we need to pay attention to. I was once told that there is a drug that heightens your senses, widens your eyes, causes your heart to beat faster so you can preform at your very best for a short period of time…it is called fear. It is useful! In fact, I do not believe we would be here today without fear, it gives us an advantage. Stress is the precursor of fear like revving the engine in anticipation of action.
Unfortunately, today stress has become ‘chronic’, long lasting.. This is like living your life with the engine revving all the time, eventually you wear out all the parts. This creates tension in our bodies that we really don’t notice. I do something with my students where I ask if they are relaxed and of course they say ‘yes’, then I gently put my hands on their shoulders and watch as their shoulders slowly fall into a relaxed position. This constant stress is silent and beats us up from the inside. We need to recognize this affliction and work toward reversing this state of living.
I’ve come to understand that the stress I am feeling is a reaction to what I am telling myself is happening ‘out there’. My inner system is sensing I am concerned and preparing me for battle. So… what if I stop. Become silent. Tell my body a different story.
If you are training your art to defeat other people you are misguided and don’t have a proper student mindset. You don’t build a house by starting to build the house. You start by building a life, family and friends that you wish to live with. Then the house has purpose. Your training is about the struggle within, the purification of your metal, the chipping away of the stone to reveal the statue. It is under the surface. Defending your health and preparing the vessel is the first battle.
I cannot chip away the stone by inaction, I must work toward my goal on a daily basis. Even the bird has to work its way out of the shell to defeat the darkness. Yet I also cannot purify my metal through actions alone … this is not enough. No matter how much I throw myself against the brick wall I will only achieve a headache. Sometimes I need to restore myself in calm inaction, time to sharpen my axe.
So if I cannot achieve forward movement through inaction, and I cannot have a calm and restored life through action. What is the answer? Separate the wheat from the husk. Use the stress yet do not let it set roots. Use it like fire in an engine to move you forward and if it is too great laugh at it. No, I literally mean laugh at it. Shake your head at the ridiculousness of this overwhelming feeling that you are helpless. You see, there is always something you can do even if that something is to accept what IS. “what now?” not « now what? » Serenity not surrender.
Serenity to the fact that somethings are happening that I cannot control and my only choice is to work my way through it, to face the sun again. I do not want to surrender to despair. Discouragement is the defeat of the mind! Once the mind is defeated the rest follows. I watched a student of mine die of cancer. She was in her forties with young children and a loving husband. She should have despaired, she should have been discouraged, she should have been stressed. Yet, in 2002 Chris moved forward, in action, working toward a cure and then restored herself, through inaction, when all that remained was living for the moment. She left this place on her feet. Serenity not surrender.
Having said that, those on the path know when it is time to ask for help and have the courage to do so. If your stress has turned to deep sadness and laughing is truly unachievable, tell someone and reach out to the healers in your area. This is something you can change.