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What is stress? It is the tension which arises as a psychological and physiological response to a challenge. (Two definitions: "stressors" are the situations that trigger stress; "stress" is our reaction.)
- The positive aspects of stress.
- Stress stimulates us physically and psychologically. We all seek stress in various ways -- perhaps through a challenging job, exhilarating relationships, competitive games, exciting television programs, dangerous sports, difficult hobbies, vacations to exotic locales, social events where we meet new people, fast cars, roller coasters, horror movies, any activity which causes the body's release of adrenaline and endorphin, provocative conversations, etc. Without stress, we would be bored, dull, and depressed.
- Stress is necessary for the physical body. Stress is displayed in muscle tone, muscle contractions (including those of the heart and lungs), and the structural bonds which literally hold the body together. Without stress, we would be dead.
- Stress is our experience of the energy of life itself.
Stress is energy in its natural state of suspension between
material objects (including people and physical objects) as
they work toward resolution (i.e., discharge of the energy from
the high-charged object to the low-charged object). Thus, the
dynamic of stress is actually the dynamic of the yinyang
- Spirit "splits" into two complementary poles for the purpose of manifestation in the dualistic worlds of materiality. When the split occurs, energy is released; this phenomenon is somewhat analogous to the release of energy when an atom is split by atomic fission. However, the energy is not dissipated (as in an "atomic bomb"); instead, it remains suspended as a bond between the polarized objects, e.g., yin and yang, worker and goal, hunter and food, "the needer" and "the needed," and "any part of ourselves" and "whatever that part wants." We experience this suspended energy as stress.
- The two polarized objects (which contain the high-charged yang and the low-charged yin) are drawn back together by the force of the energetic bond. We experience this attraction in the form of motivation, creative impulses, psychological drives (e.g., the ego's drive to manifest a personal physical environment), physiological drives (e.g., hunger, sexual tension, etc.), and the demands of our various obligations (at work, at home, in our social life, etc.), and so on.
- When the polarized objects come into contact, they exchange energy; i.e., they discharge energy into one another. Thus, the stress is relieved, and we achieve a type of wholeness; we even achieve a type of transcendence, as the union of spirit's polarities grants us a brief experience of spirit itself. Depending upon the type of polarities which resolve their charge, we might experience this completion in various forms: happiness, joy, relief, satisfaction, delight, sexual orgasm, etc.
- Severe, unrelenting stress can cause physical fatigue and illness. In a fast-paced society, stress is responsible for many ailments.
- We might be unsuccessful in finding a productive means by which to satisfy our need for stress. Instead, we achieve the stimulation through destructive means: recreational drugs, emotionalism (perhaps expressed in the form of arguments), and fighting (in bar-room brawls, or in our living room when our restless kids are confined inside on a rainy day).
- We experience stress in the form of desire and attachment. In eastern religions, desire and attachment are given a negative valuation -- but they are merely the dynamics by which the stress of the yinyang polarization draws the opposites toward one another for their spiritual re-uniting.
The techniques for managing stress. In "stress management," we do not try to eliminate stress (which is a necessary part of life); instead, we try to regulate the amount of it so that we are stimulated but not over-stimulated.
- Archetypal field-work.
- Self-talk. For example: "I enjoy stimulation and I enjoy relaxation." "I accept my body's need for rest." "I can manage the challenges of my life." "I respect the cycles of activity and rest."
- Directed imagination. We can visualize ourselves being relaxed in various situations which would usually be excessively stressful. Or we can visualize a peaceful scene, e.g., a calm riverbank.
- Energy toning. We can implant the energy tones of serenity, confidence, composure, poise, contentment, optimism, etc.
- The "as if" principle. We can act as if we are calm in stressful circumstances.
- We can express our emotions. Emotional tension is released when we laugh, cry, sing, dance, etc.
- We can improve our nutrition. The body becomes over-stimulated if we have a diet of sugar, alcohol, and valueless foods.
- We can consume less caffeine in the form of tea, coffee, and soda.
- We can maintain proper posture. If we slump, we create stress throughout the spine.
- We can get a pet. Our stress is reduced when we play with a pet. (However, a pet might cause stress, if it tends to be very demanding, noisy, or destructive.)
- We can spend some time alone.
- We can distract ourselves from our dilemmas by helping other people (on a one-to-one basis or through group volunteer work). Or, if we are stressing ourselves by doing too much for others at our expense, we can cut back on the helpfulness and instead take care of our own needs.