What happens when you encounter a stressful situation - that huge traffic jam when you're already late for an appointment, the backlog of work piling up on your desk, the supplier or co-worker who throws a wrench in the works, the irritating relative who knows just what button to push to inflame your insides - what do you do? Do you go into stress mode; tightening your body, restricting your breath, racing your thoughts around in a gerbil wheel, collapsing into overwhelm? And does this work for you? Do you actually get there faster, become more productive, find a solution, or rise above the pettiness?
When stressful situations occur around us, it's easy to match that with a stressful reaction, yet we are free to respond in any way we want. It's natural to have an instant reaction of anger, frustration, disappointment or concern, but then to carry it with us any further only makes matters worse. So why do we do it? Because it's what we know, what we’ve learned and what we're used to doing.
Responding with a calm, relaxed manner might seem as though we're not taking the situation seriously or might feel like we're giving up and caving in. But in reality, operating from a state of ease brings clarity, opens up our view to additional possibilities, and keeps our energy flowing through our bodies so we can accomplish more and not be exhausted at the end of the day.
Ease is a state of being, a way of living life. Instead of resisting, it's accepting. Instead of forcing it's allowing. Instead of struggling, it's flowing. At any moment of time, in any situation, we can simply choose ease instead of stress.
Reflect on these questions to gain insights into your states of stress and ease:
* What people, situations, and circumstances do you feel most at ease with?
* What people, situations, and circumstances do you usually respond in a stressful way?
* What are your favorite stress responses – your thought patterns (catastrophizing, all or nothing, victimhood, blaming etc), your physical reactions (holding breath, clenching jaws, tightening body etc.), your behaviours (racing around, complaining, disappearing etc.)? And what do these do for you?
* What would it be like if you were to respond to a stressful situation with ease? What would it feel like? What would you have to let go of to have ease (being right, being wrong, attention, pity, or your attachment to being a drama queen, scatter brain, ostridge, superhero, victim etc.)? What would you need to embrace (trust, humour, acceptance, compassion, feeling good enough, owning your power etc.)?
Try these inspiring ideas to create more ease in your life:
* Take several full breaths down into your belly, then into your lower rib cage and then up into your chest. Then let your breath flow naturally and let your mind and body match that relaxed state.
* Imagine your body is clear like glass or flowing like a stream.
* Close your eyes and be in the centre of your head and find a peaceful stillness there, then let this feeling expand through your whole body.
* Once you have found a state of ease, take some time to imagine what your life would be like if you operated from this state regularly. Go through a whole day, a week and a month. Notice how you feel, think and behave in situations and with others.
* Set your intention each day to have ease in your life and when stressful situations occur, say to yourself “I choose ease” and see how you respond.