Thursday, July 1, 2010

Smooth Sailing

Let me guess.  You've had at least one stressful event this week - an unexpected medical problem, concerns about a family member, your car needed expensive repairs and you looked longingly at a brand new Honda Fit but decided your 2003 Accord is healthy enough at 70,000 miles to live a much longer life... No, wait a minute, those are my stressors. You can have your own!  And I'm sure you do.

Take a deep breath — or two, or three. Make yourself comfortable. Some stress management gurus ask that you sit with your back straight, both feet on the floor. But maybe you're more comfortable with your legs crossed, sliding down on your chair. Do what works for you.

Are you breathing?  Good.  I'd like to help you reduce some stress in your life. In other words, I want you to feel the way my cat, Carl, obviously felt when this photo was taken — a member of the Katmandu catamaran crew, occupying his preferred role as keeper of the salon couch... 

Continue breathing deeply, as if you were happy to be sailing on a beautiful day.

Notice all the thoughts crowding your mind about problems to solve, things that could go wrong, how the weather might change. 

Now, re-focus attention to your top 3-5 core values - principles or qualities intrinsically important to you. Sometimes it helps to ask, "If I only had six months to live, what would be most important for me right now?" 

Now, thinking over this week, when were you out of sync with those values? In what way was that stressful? What did you say to yourself about the situation? What physical symptoms did you experience? What were your emotions?

Now gently disengage from those thoughts, place one hand over your heart, and shift your focus to the area around your heart. 

Imagine your breath coming in through your heart and out your solar plexus. As you continue breathing this way, think of an uncomplicated positive feeling, appreciation or caring for someone or some thing in your life. Activate that positive feeling right now.

Within this positive feeling, let your heart's intelligence guide you. Ask How might I respond in an appreciative way, one that minimizes stress and keeps me connected to my values? Listen to whatever answer you receive, whether a physical or emotional shift, or some words that come to you.

This is what is meant by finding your sea legs - you're sailing in perfect balance, no matter what the weather.

(Learn more about your heart's intelligence.)

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