Sunday, September 27, 2009

Unearthing the seeds of stress

On Friday, I was talking to a friend about the way we externalize stress in our lives. She wiped her eyes and said, "I just had a good cry. For some reason whenever I feel really stressed, the tears start flowing. That's frowned on in business because people think I'm weak. I'm not--I'm just stressed!" She asked me how stress shows up for me and I thought about it a minute and said, "Appreciation is the first thing to go for me. When I get stressed, I stop noticing the little things around me."

Our conversation has been popping into my head all weekend. As I push hard to get chapters completed on my current project, I realize that I am continually choosing whether I notice the little things around me right now--the candle burning, the quiet in the house, the breeze from the open window--or let the pressure from the deadline rush me toward some future goal. When I let my awareness be controlled by my worry of that eventual time, my eyes stop seeing and my ears stop hearing what's right here, right now. My edges get harder. I push myself to move through things quickly, not valuing the moment, which requires open hands and eyes and ears, and a soft heart. Losing touch with appreciation means the volume on my heart gets turned down while my brain barks orders. No wonder I feel stress!

I wonder whether there's a way to get things done, to honor commitments, to work from love and fullness and awareness, without letting stress be the controlling factor. If stress makes me leave the gentleness at the core of being, it's not helping me. It's worth thinking about today, at any rate.

And I say, if you need to cry, cry. Let it all out and reconnect with your life right now. It loves you.