5 Personal Challenges.
Becoming an expert at Permanent Stress Reduction
Step A Accepting the Challenge
PERSONAL CHALLENGE #1.
The frequency and impact of stressful reactions in your life can be permanently reduced. To do that you need to grow as a person, find wholeness in your life style, and experience emotional balance in your daily activities. Obviously there are many steps in this process and we begin here with a renewed sense of awareness.
What happens to my ThinkingBody when I’m feeling stressed out?
When you are under stress your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, your heart rate increases, your stomach tightens, your muscles tense, and you perspire more.
Task 1: Develop awareness of your stress reaction by making a list of your most notable reactions. How do you personally react? What are you telling yourself about this situation?
What are your feelings like? In What part of your body do you notice these feelings most?
Right now, make list of your own reactions in the order in which they often appear. Order them from least intense to most intense.
Take at least 5 minutes to visualize and identify your reaction process.
Task 2: Visualize the situations that produce these responses within you.
What are the differences between your experience of anxiety, anger, love, fear and so forth. You soon discover that these very different situations produce the same physical reactions in your body, e.g. increased breathing and heart rate, muscle tension, etc.
Task 3: Recall your last emotional reaction inasmuch detail as possible and what you were telling yourself at the time.
This task helps you become aware of the dominant self-talk messages you use.Write the experience down:
- What were you telling yourself about the perceived event – the phenomena – you were encountering?
- Describe the outcome of the experience. Was it positive or negative?
- How did self-talk affect your feelings about the event?
- Were your feelings negative? Was your self talk negative or positive? Did you try to calm yourself down or escalate the feelings?
- How did you resolve the negative feelings? Describe some negative consequences of your response. Share your view of the experience with some else.
Step B, Engage in Life-modifying exercises
Life-Work for Personal Challenge #1
- Revisit your most frequent causes of feeling stress and write out a list. Become aware of the situations that consistently cause disruption in your life. You can prepare ahead of time for success.
- Make some written notes regarding the self-talk that you are aware of during your stress reactions. What exactly are you telling yourself about the situation?
- Analyze one stress reaction each day with the specific purpose of being aware of how Beliefs are shaping and creating a certain perception of reality, setting the stage for either positive or negative emotional responses.
- Make a schedule that you can easily follow to practice Deep Breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation. [DM and PMR]. These relaxing techniques can be practiced anywhere several times a day without calling attention to yourself. Allow time for one session in the evening, shortly before retiring for the night. You may find it easier to fall asleep.
An essential element of our Personal Challenges will be recommendations for increasing complete body (or 5 senses) awareness to help deepen the concept that the whole ThinkingBody is being challenged to create new perceptions.
We also want to take an inventory of what types of food and drink make up a typical week’s worth of nourishment. Just simply observe what goes into the body in a typical week and write it down daily. Once we know these patterns it is easier to make any changes that might be helpful.
Simple Meditations are added to make it easier to call to mind
our commitment to daily practice of a new way to live emotionally.
General Introduction to Life Work meditations
Meditation for Life Work 1.
On Increasing Awareness in my Senses
Start with the Sense of Sight.
As before, click the bottom border of first meditation slide below, expand to full screen and use your arrows to navigate slowly through the whole exercise.
A practice in bringing attentiveness to daily experience: During Personal Challenge #1 try this exercise in sensory awareness. Begin with your eyes. Imagine the many different ways that you can reawaken your sense of vision. Look at things in different lights, change colors, scenery, find things to look at that you seldom see; examine the gigantic and the microscopic- challenge all that you take for granted. Become mindful of the wonders that surround you every day. Try keeping a journal of how you see.
Begin Life Work Challenge II
Personal Challenge #2
Taking Ownership for My Feelings and my Reality
We begin Personal Challenge 2 by briefly reviewing ideas we
have learned in Personal Challenge #1 and life-Work practices.
- What are my most troublesome stressors?
- What messages do I habitually give myself?
- What is the quality of nourishment I have been accustomed to in my current life style?
- How have I improved my relaxation techniques?
With Personal Challenge #2 we continue to focus on our ThinkingBody environment. We are learning to understand how thinking shapes our feelings and how we can begin to consciously shape those feelings. I realize that if my thinking habits are less than healthy or helpful then my feelings will also be less than healthy or helpful.
We have already identified some negative habits in Personal Challenge #1 and labeled them in order of frequency. I can no longer allow poor thinking habits to distort the information I process or to escalate my stress reactions. I know I am able to change or eliminate negative reactions in my daily life.
I am getting more control over these habits as a result of my increased awareness of what is going on in my ThinkingBody. I am more aware now that thinking is always producing body reactions of one degree or another. I am literally a “Body of Thought”.
Unfortunately my body embeds unexamined, unhelpful beliefs just as effectively as it does my positive, helpful beliefs.
Now that I am actively aware of my thought processes, I am beginning to short-circuit the emotional cause/effect that I once took for granted.
Because emotions are a process I can tune in early to what is happening and change the messages coming to my nerves, my stomach, my increased pulse rate, etc. I begin to take more and more responsibility for my emotional state.
I recognize fear or anger or jealousy as Phenomena, being influenced by my Beliefs and possibly heading for negative outcomes, unpleasant Perceived Realities. I also recognize that if I take ownership of the process itself I can take the lead in stopping those thoughts, thereby changing my emotional state.
A common complaint of the severely stressed person is “there are not enough hours in the day for what I need to do!” Before I can get a better grip on how I react to the phenomena in my life I need to get my daily routines under control. In taking ownership of my Reality I also take on new responsibility for my emotional welfare.
* Do I give myself reasonable time frames to do essential tasks?
- Do have reasonable expectations of what my talents and abilities realistically are, or do I believe that I should or must do everything that comes my way.
- Do I ask for help when I’m overwhelmed or do I putmyself down because I’m failing my “self-expectations”
Stop here and list some personal BodyThoughts that you use to set yourself up for major stress situations. You are responsible for your state of mind that creates these expectations, makes these demands on your available time. By right-sizing my self-expectations and making a realistic time schedule for yourself, you will be able to take greater control of what goes on in your thoughts and consequent behaviors.
This is a good time to practice constant awareness of what you are telling yourself about the phenomena I encounter. SELF TALK is a critical aspect of your thinking process that can either escalate or de-escalate those feelings. Self-talk is your prime area of personal thought control and you need to be a master of its use.
Make no mistake, the steps to control are simple enough but this is a major change in managing emotional response and removing stress from your life that many people just don’t practice effectively.
Life-Work for Personal Challenge #2
- Continue your reflective awareness of your habitual self-talk and how you actually think, i.e. how you process information.
- Each day analyze at least one stress situation you have experienced and look for the unexamined Beliefs you had that caused your stress level to escalate. How could you have modified your beliefs about that situation?
- Continue practicing Deep Breathing and Progressive Muscle Relaxation 3 times a day with one of those times close to bedtime. (refer to Segment 3 if review is needed.)
- Looking ahead, write down some things that will happen when your reactions to stressful situations start to get under better control. How will you behave as a result? How will you feel? How will your Resulting Reality be different?
- List some changes you are willing to make this week with regard to food and beverages you usually consume. What could you not do away with; what can you do without?
- Draw up a schedule for things you must do and things you wantto do this week. This is your Planning Ahead activity tool. It is essential to make time for yourself and your things-to-do list. Keep it short and realistic.
- Think about one threatening or stressful situation that might present itself in the coming days and how you could adjust your reactions to get the best outcome for yourself. This is your Preventive Maintenance tool. Like Planning Ahead you will use this technique throughout this training.
8. Each day, mentally create as many these “emotional experience situations” as you can so you will get the most out of your Sense Awareness Projects which you will soon begin in each Life Work exercise.
Meditation for focusing on Sense of Hearing
for Personal Challenge #2
Again, click the bottom boder on slide 1 below and arrow forward.
Challenge 2. After the Meditation: Exercise for hearing. Listen to the different times of the day; different voices, accents, various singing styles that you usually don’t tune in to; sounds of birds, animals, different environments; try classical, East Indian, Arabic or any ethnic music you can find, and don’t forget to listen to silence.
After several days of personal Challenge 2, combine sights and sounds, things that grasp you, bother you, sooth you, awaken you. Keep a journal of these experiences as well and share your experiences with others.
End Segment 1, part II;