Chambered Nautilus Training Group
Permanent Stress Reduction Program
Managing Emotional Reactions Rationally
Managing Emotional Response pp. 1-2
What are Emotions pp. 3-4
Practicing of Coping Skills pp. 5-6
A Brief Meditation pp. 6-7
Personal Challenge #1 pp. 7-10
Personal Challenge #2 pp. 11-15
Personal Challenge #3 pp. 16-19
Personal Challenge #4 pp. 20-25
Personal Challenge #5 pp. 26-33
Conclusion p. 34
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Attributed to Socrates)
Permanent Stress Reduction.
The Chambered Nautilus was chosen as our logo because learning Permanent Stress Reduction requires a personal growth process symbolized by the segmented development stages of a chambered nautilus. The chambered nautilus grows through a distinctive process of letting go of previous stages of growth in order to build a new way of interacting with the world. In doing so it becomes increasingly more buoyant and able to move to more beneficial environments on ocean waves. Sailors called it a “ship of pearl”.
We begin the presentation by addressing techniques that can be used to deal with different types of stress. We will explain why dealing with stress is so important, explain how to cope with threatening circumstances which are unavoidable, and teach you how to control your own reactions to stress in your daily life.
We then show you distinct steps you can take toward managing your personal emotional responses. These steps are available in individual Segments of this personal growth program and can be experienced in any order to achieve one’s goals.
MEDITATION is a key component of successful permanent stress reduction and is an essential element that allows you to maintain the results of all segments* over time. Our stress reduction method is designed to provide you with materials explaining how the system works as well as presenting personal challenges to help you achieve a satisfactory level of permanent stress reduction.
* Any of the 5 Segments may be undertaken individually or with a group. Several people generally reinforce one another in any positive learning environment. Either way, each section should be read slowly, with deliberation and by all means, accompanied by a notebook or some device to record important ideas. Remember, you are essentially building a new way to understand yourself.
1. Learning Managed Emotional Rational Response:
Avoiding unwanted Emotional Consequences.
Key strategies of managing emotional response consist of Five Basic Steps and Personal Challenges which lead to emotional control and lessening of stress.These basic steps teach us how to restructure habitual thinking and behaviors. In turn, each step consists of:
1). Educating ourselves about the emotional response process in our body and tips on increasing awareness of thinking habits, body mechanics and maximizing experiences of our 5 senses.
2). A section called Life-Work for each Personal Challenge, enabling you to in-corp-orate the principles discovered in these sections into your daily routines. Life-Work also includes specific meditations in each unit to support the learner’s efforts at expanding their personal and sensual awareness.
Before beginning the 5 Personal Challenges process, consider who we are as emotional beings and try to develop an awareness of what might be to some folks a new or even different understanding of how we react to daily life experiences..
We will learn a thorough method of experiencing managed emotional responses to a wide variety of challenging situations. We will also suggest a number of changes you can make in life style choices to grow in personal wholeness. These changes may appear to be distant to your problems at first but they are essential changes you can make if this program is to bring about a different way of “being yourself”.
Reading and listening are not difficult; doing and changing are very difficult and success depends entirely on your willingness to examine your beliefs and challenge your habitual thinking.
Reducing Stress Permanently by Managing Emotional Responses Rationally.
Key Elements of the Emotional Response Process.
I. Understanding emotional reactions;how we minimize negative consequences by using positive coping skills
II. The “ThinkingBody” as a way of processing information;
III. Performing Deep breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation to immediately counter-act stress and anger;
IV. Using meditation to open your thoughts to new possibilities of awareness and response.
(I) What are Emotional Reactions?
Emotions are a result of distinct mind/body process. The process is a combination of:
a) Phenomena; that means people, places, things, and ideas that are images presented to my brain and which then become my conscious thoughts. We will refer to these thought complexes presented to us simply as phenomena and we have little or no control over their comings and goings through our mental landscape. If we pick one out or attend to it, we immediately, unconsciously, assign a value to it, good, bad, ugly, pretty, moral, immoral, etc. That value is often shaped by our habitual beliefs.
Thus we begin to accept or reject thought phenomena without detailed reflection or investigation. We are prejudiced by what we already believe to be true or false, good or bad.
Our lack of control over what Phenomena enter our consciousness can only be compensated for by our becoming experts in identifying any harmful habits of Belief, then examining and correcting them, making an effort to live in what becomes our rationally sound, balanced “Perceived Reality.”
Beliefs are your opinions or convictions about what these phenomena represent, for example; pleasure, pain, threat, retreat, desire etc. There can be a huge difference between what a thing represents, all by itself, (if that is even possible,) and how your Belief is interpreting it to create your conscious perceptions. It is a fact that a number of people witnessing an event (a crime, an accident, for example,) will not see the same event in exactly the same way, often contradicting one another. So much for the value of eyewitness testimony!
It is critical to master the art of questioning your beliefs to avoid jumping to conclusions that may be far from the actual truth.
Beliefs are generally taken for granted and go unchallenged. Once w accept them and they remain with us for a long time, we assume they have value. The problem is that they don’t always carry a lot of truth or accuracy and if we tend to be impulsive in our judgment and reactions,they can get us into uncomfortable situations. They are the usually the source of our strongest prejudices.
Perception. Because of their powerful value in our thought process, these Beliefs actually shape our real life situations, giving us our “Perceived Reality”. Your personal perceptions are the consequences of your beliefs and your interpretations of phenomena. These perceptions, questioned or not, instantly become the basis of your emotional reaction and form what you perceive to be reality. Obviously, not everyone agrees with what you consider to “real”.
Your Perceived Reality determines your habitual behavior within the world of experiences, whether negative or positive, that make-up your daily life and how you react and live emotionally within that perceived, personal reality.
Being able to recognize and grasp this process of P,(phenomena), B,(beliefs)and PR (perceived reality), is the key to dealing with those less than helpful emotional reactions in our lives.
(II) Learning to Cope.
How we react to Emotional Stimuli.
Emotional Reactions occur when a situation or remark evokes a feeling within you and prompts you to react in a way that may not be positive. These types of reactions typically occur when the situation or remark reminds you of previous, similar, events in your life or when your belief about a subject is challenged. When you experience an emotional reaction to a situation you may not be understanding it objectively. Sometimes you might say or do things you wish you hadn’t. “Shoot first, ask questions later” is not always the best response.
Have you ever experience a situation where you really could not tell if a person was laughing or crying; frightened or excited, sad or just lost in deep thought? How many different ways could we react to them and how many responses might convey a very wrong message?
What makes emotional reactions different is often only the mental labels we put on the stressors. My interpretation of a perceived threat for example or my reading of a person’s facial expression or tone of voice might not be accurate at all. If I put the wrong label on a situation I may get a completely wrong emotional response. This labeling process is referred to as self-talk or what my perception is telling me about this situation. Self-talk is the habit of interpretation I have developed over a lifetime. It is a shortcut I use to evaluate the many thoughts, persons, and events, the phenomena, that I encounter every waking moment. Self-talk messages are often automatic judgments and, as such, often ignore the facts, and lead us to inaccurate conclusions.
This lightning fast, automatic judgment process can get us into trouble if we constantly make snap, erroneous, decisions and there are many situations in which I cannot afford to say or do the wrong thing.
Is it possible to change my responses to achieve better outcomes?
Not only is it possible, it is essential, if the responses are producing stress and disrupting your life on a regular basis. Change can be achieved by practicing the techniques in our Permanent Stress Reduction program.
Coping Skills and the ThinkingBody; How the whole body thinks.
Positive coping skills result from understanding the above emotional reaction process in order to minimize negative emotional consequences. The ThinkingBody concept is about taking ownership of and mastering the way your mind/body processes information in order to control your emotional reactions. When a person thinks or feels it is a whole body event.
Eliminating the idea that there is a great separation between mind and body gives us a new way of interpreting our beliefs. Obviously, the brain is connected to our hearts, stomachs, lungs, reproductive organs, etc. Our culture constantly sings to us of body and soul as if we are two different things, somehow thrown together, different from and often regarded as, superior to all other creatures in the universe.
Once we more directly connect our physical reactions to our thinking process (and vice-versa), we will have a new tool to manage perceptions and avoid becoming victims of negative emotional reactions.Being able to manage emotional reactions allows one to experience positive feelings and make better choices when confronted with stressful situations.
At this point in the program we take time to focus on some “body issues” as they relate to creating a calm, collected, “even-tempered” personal environment, necessity for bringing about a change in our emotional responses.
Please note: we realize that not all outbursts of excessive emotion are problematic or unwelcome. Everyone is different in how the display their emotions and that makes for an exciting world to live in, to say the least.
But we all know that a person under stress can often have exaggerated responses and the more intense their emotions, the more likely their behavior will result in negative consequences. For these folks and for these situations, a cool, reasonable response will be far more productive. Escalating our with negative behaviors will only increase an already stressful situation. None of us can afford to let our reactions get out of control. Therefore, the more we understand about the process and learn to manage it evenly, over time, the better off we will be. The oft’ heard plea. “I just lost it”, makes a lousy defense, in or out of a court of law.
These topics are explored as well in Segment 4 , “Rational Response to Anger.”
(III) Working with the ThinkingBody.
Techniques of Deep/Diaphragmatic Breathing
and Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Relaxation is of great importance in our program. We offer here a brief description of methods used to practice deep breathing and bring about total body relaxation. Humans cannot be majorly agitated and relaxed at the same time. We want to reduce our stress responses, not make them worse.
Most of us breathe using what is called shallow or chest breathing. This of course is fine as it keeps us upright and alive. But we are all familiar with the advice given when we face a tense situation, “take a deep breath” or “count to 10”. Deep breathing is a key element to relaxation and since this program is aiming at a lifestyle change, we advocate mastery of the deep breathing technique.
The process is outlined here and is sufficient for getting started in induced relaxation as a counter-measure to stress, as well as in meditation. A separate Segment (3), Mastering Relaxation, will give greater detail.
- Begin by sitting upright with shoulders square and lifted up.
- Now slowly exhale.
- Begin to inhale a new breath: push the stomach out, pulling down on the diaphragm muscle and fill the lungs with air while raising the shoulders to get as much air intake as possible. Do this slowly. Be concentrate on the refreshing air coming in. Count 5 or 10 seconds of inhaling, or more if possible.
- At the “top”, or maximum intake of the breath, hold the fresh air in your body for a few seconds, counting the same number of seconds as you have inhaled. This allows adequate exchange of incoming, positive oxygen, with outgoing, negative carbon dioxide in the lungs.
- Gently force all the air out of you lungs entirely and begin taking the next breath just as before.
Note: Don’t just blow the air out on the exhale. Control the process by slowly pulling the stomach back in and push up against the diaphragm muscle, trying to push as much carbon dioxide out as possible.
Then return to the stomach-extending, shoulder-raising inhale and holding of the breath.
That’s all there is to it. It may feel a little strange at first but this technique is immensely helpful in the relaxation process. You might even feel a little light-headed at in the beginning. Practice this breathing technique often, as the goal is to make it an unconscious good habit – your normal way of breathing, that will enable more control over what is going on with your emotional response at any given time.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
A second technique for stress reduction is progressive muscle relaxation.
- Start by focusing on either your head and neck area or your feet and ankles.
- Consciously put your awareness on a muscle group in the selected area.
- Mentally see the muscles and flex them, squeezing them tight, holding that tension for 4 or 5 seconds, then letting them relax completely. Enjoy the relaxed feeling.
- Repeat the tensing, holding and relaxing sequence over again, moving to the shoulders, chest, arms, stomach area, pelvic area, quads, ankles/feet.
Immediately reverse the order and go back through all the muscle groups. Repeat as needed until a euphoric relaxation is felt or the sense of tightness has left the body and neutralized your stressful reaction.Practice both techniques regularly so they become second nature to you.
A calm, cool and collected person will be in control of any stress situation
Incorporating Meditation into the process.
A way to sustain calm, cool and collected, clear perceptions over a lifetime of dealing with stress is to practice frequent or daily meditation. We use meditation in this presentation as a fundamental aide to reducing stress effects in our lives.
Using the body relaxation techniques above, this would be a good time to try a change of behavior exercise using a meditation to give us some new ideas about how we can approach stress differently. Take a few minutes to relax, study and practice this Introductory Meditation information and examples below.
(1) “What is Meditation” Click the link below, enlarge to screen if needed, then arrow through the presentation at your own pace.