Transform the way you related to stress. Learn how to neutralize stress triggers, shift into the peace of soul at any moment, and remove obstacles to inner peace. Based in psychology and ancient enlightenment philosophy, this book shows how to use all your inner resources to your benefit. Choose from 57 techniques to stop stressing and apply soul as the ultimate stress-relief remedy. You’ll learn how to:
– Center in soul, where profound peace is always present.
– Neutralize stressors and remove their emotional charge.
– Transform the underlying dynamics of your stress reactions.
– Turn your mind into an awesome stress management tool.
– Recognize how you’re stressing yourself, and stop doing it.
– Reinterpret crisis events as opportunities for personal growth.
– Experience deep relaxation beyond stress, worry, and upset.
– Apply soul’s vital lifeforce for multi-level healing.
Targeted Age Group:: General adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book is a culmination of several decades of professional work and development of techniques that work well. The information came together and the timing of the book just felt right this year, and so it came to be.
CHAPTER 1-1: YOU ARE SOUL
We each have within us a light that is more powerful than any stress or emotion. Within this light no darkness can exist. When the winds of stress and anxiety whip around you, turn to this light within and you'll find a haven of such profound peace that the storm cannot touch you. Though it may rage, the storm cannot intrude into the haven of soul.
Peace is Present
Peace already exists within you. There's a reason that the saying is "finding peace" instead of "creating peace" or "thinking about peace." At all times there is already a place of peace within you, and you merely need to touch into it. It may be buried underneath layers of stress, emotion, mental chatter, imaginings, or whatever else is going on in your consciousness–but it's there. You can move into that peace whenever you choose by shifting your focus there.
To illustrate this, think of a time in your past when you experienced great peace. Maybe a childhood situation or environment in which you felt safe and loved, a person whose presence in your life always calmed you, an experience of nature's glorious beauty, or something else that awakened your inner light or seemed to make everything okay. You may notice that just by thinking of that situation you're starting to feel more peaceful. What's happening is you're revisiting the same peace within your yourself that you experienced back then. That place of peace didn't reside out in the environment or in the person you were with at the time. It was within you–and it still is.
Soul as Respite
Beyond the physical and mental levels within which you conduct your daily life is a whole realm of profound peace within you: soul. Soul exists at a level where none of the disturbances of the lower level can reach, which means stress, hurt, and upset can't breach its perfect peace.
Because you are a soul, soul is always present within you. It is the most essential you, the purest form of you. You are a soul who is experiencing life as a human. The rest of you–your lower levels which include body, mind, and emotions–are merely the means through which you (as a soul) experience the earthly world. When you're focused on a swirling storm of everyday stresses in those lower levels, you may not be aware of your "soulness." However, at any time you can elevate your awareness toward the soul level to experience its peace. This book will show you how.
If a human being were a tree, its soul would be its roots: they're an integral part of the tree, but they reach deep into its vital, life-giving source of nourishment. Also, the more strongly established the root system, the more resilient the tree in the face of crisis. The roots hold the tree firm amidst external stresses, and they also provide the sustenance necessary for repair and recovery from those stresses. They are the key to the tree's survival and it could not live without them. Likewise, soul keeps us rooted into the vital sustenance of our lifeforce and holds us steady through physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
However, there's one aspect of this tree model that doesn't quite fit. We tend to think of soul as the "higher" part of a person (higher as in "rising above" or "raising your consciousness"), rather than a "lower" part like a tree's roots. In reality, the soul isn't physically "higher" or "lower" than anything else, although it makes sense to think of it as the "highest" aspect of self. So in this model maybe we can envision the tree as growing upside down, hanging in midair with its roots (soul) facing skyward and integrated with its vital, "higher source" (a "higher power"). Then envision the branches and leaves (your body, emotions, mind, etc.) facing downward into the earthly world (the "lower" physical, mental, and emotional levels). Both parts are living and functioning, but in different realms (sky representing higher awareness and earth representing worldly awareness). If you want to see what's going on in the (physical, mental, emotional) tree canopy, you go look there. But if you want to become aware of the roots (soul), you must "rise above" or "elevate" your consciousness to shift there. You'll learn more about how to do that in "Getting to Soul" (p. 7).
It's challenging to find words to describe the experience of the soul level because it's beyond our usual day-to-day experiences. Some have described it as bliss, peace, joy, a sea of love, perfect well-being, and divine. It could also be described as a deep knowing that everything is okay, or a sense of "home" that feels safe and secure.
Whatever words we use to label it, one thing is for sure: when you're experiencing soul, you know it. You'll feel immediately different when you shift toward soul. Because the stresses and worries of the day can't reach into soul, they will fade away as you elevate your consciousness in the direction of soul. Instead, you'll begin to experience a magnificent sense of peace—a sense of "glowing" from within.
The following sections provide more detail to help you recognize soul when you experience it.
Soul is Peace
Soul brings a deep experience of peace that's so profound it's indescribable. At the same time, there aren't any "non-peace" elements on the soul level: no stress, anger, fear, judgment, envy, insecurity, lack, etc. because they can't extend above the lower levels. Shifting your awareness toward soul elevates you beyond those, although they may still be there when you return your focus to the lower levels. (There are also ways to eliminate those lower-level negative dynamics, which we'll get to in "The Steps for Getting to Soul," p. 7, and in greater detail in "Part III: HAVEN-BUILDING TOOLKIT," p. 35.)
Soul is Love
Soul expresses only unconditional love and goodwill. It loves with no requirements or restrictions, asking nothing in return. It is actively loving all the time, always benevolent. Soul loves you, others, the world, everything—because love is the soul's true nature.
Soul is Light
Soul is filled with light. Its light is so intense and complete that there can be no darkness: no hurt, hate, anger, or suffering. If you've ever heard the term "dark night of the soul," it's more about the shadow created within a person when they have turned away from or are blocking out the light of soul from within themselves than it is about actual darkness in the soul. The soul's light always shines, and it's up to you whether and when you look toward it. Whenever you choose, you can use the soul's light as a tool for peace, healing, and transformation on the lower levels by calling the light to those areas (see "Calling in the Light," p. 17).
Soul accepts everything and everyone. The soul doesn't judge itself (you) or try to tell you what to do. No matter what's happening on your emotional and mental levels, the soul is always accepting and benevolent. The soul can't be "darkened" by any of those negative, lower-level dynamics because they can't reach that high. The soul doesn't find fault with others or hold grudges, but instead accepts that everyone and everything is as it is in every moment. It doesn't try to change things (perhaps because it realizes that in the big picture everything is okay). Death, loss, grief, hurt, and anger are all accepted, as the soul extends only loving into all situations.
Soul is Strong
Soul can't be harmed, broken, or destroyed. It's untouchable by anything in the lower levels (physical, mental, emotional, etc.), which means it can't be wounded by hurt or limited by doubt. It doesn't get tired and it never gives up. No soul can become lost or a "lost cause." The soul doesn't fear death, perhaps because it can't die. The soul is fearless. You might say that soul is the closest thing to a superpower that a human has. Soul is our power of invincibility.
Soul is Perfect
Soul is perfect as it is. It is complete. It wants for nothing and needs nothing: not love, admiration, or praise. Money means nothing to it. It doesn't crave freedom because it's already free. It doesn't seek to fulfill itself in any way because it is already whole. The soul perceives all through its perfect acceptance and loving. It doesn't wish people were better or the world a nicer place. Seen through the eyes of soul, the world and everyone in it are gloriously beautiful. The soul is in love with all it sees because the soul exists in love. So immaculately, gorgeously, perfect is the soul that you might call it "divinely perfect."
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CHAPTER 2-1: STRESS AND THE SOUL (EXCERPT)
When you shift your awareness into soul, you're lifting to a higher level where stress can't reach. Stress may still exist on the lower levels (mental, emotional, etc.), but you don't experience it directly when elevated to a level beyond.
A soul-centered approach to stress involves not only focusing into soul for immediate stress relief, but also the two ongoing processes of deepening into soul and removing inner dynamics that obstruct your experience of soul. And as it turns out, those obstructions are sources of stress themselves. More specifically, what you experience as stress is a reaction you've created to something, which then becomes "not peace" within you (and therefore detracts from experiencing soul).
Stress Comes from Within
Stress is a reaction created within yourself rather than something out in the world. Most times when you're experiencing stress, you're actually stressing yourself by the way you're reacting to a particular trigger from within your consciousness (a worrisome thought, an imagined scenario, etc.) or from the environment around you (a news report, an angry person, etc.).
An event is only a stress trigger if you react to it in a stressful way. Events themselves are actually neutral: they just "are." You only experience them as stressful when you interpret them as "bad," "wrong," "scary," etc. So it's not the event that's stressful, but rather the way you're experiencing or interpreting that event.
You can only experience stress within your own consciousness. Your stress can't originate in the outside world because your consciousness is not out there to experience it. Your consciousness is within you. Think about it this way: if a disaster were happening around you but you were asleep and your consciousness wasn't aware of it, you wouldn't feel stressed because you wouldn't be experiencing it or interpreting it in any way. But as soon as you became aware of the trigger you might create a reaction that feels stressful.
The same is true of most forms of stress. When you're feeling overwhelmed, the overwhelm is a reaction you've created within yourself (perhaps you're trying to think about too many things at once or you're allowing your emotions to take charge). In these cases, it might be more accurate to say you're "overwhelming yourself." When you're worried about an upcoming decision, that worry is likely your reaction to the outcomes you're imagining (perhaps because you don't have enough information for the choice to be clear). Perhaps it's more accurate to say you're "worrying yourself."
What's so fortunate is that because stress originates within your consciousness, you can shift it. Because your consciousness is your own domain, you are in charge of what happens there. You are responsible for your own reactions, and being responsible for them means having power over them (we'll discuss this further in "Chapter 3 3: Responsibility," p. 46). For example, in the case of feeling overwhelmed you could stop "overwhelming yourself" by changing the way you perceive and react to the situation, such as by focusing only on identifying your next step (see "Chapter 4 7: Identifying Your Next Step," p. 173), deciding to think about only one thing at a time, or organizing your mental to-do list (see "Chapter 3 24: Mental Clean-Sweep," p. 135). You might stop "worrying yourself" about an upcoming decision by taking the logical approach of considering options and outcomes, and delaying the decision until you have more information (see "Chapter 3 14: Decision Making," p. 95).
(Another form of stress is physical stress, such as due to physical illness or overworking your body. Managing physical stress involves changes like reducing physical activity, managing your schedule, fostering wellness, treating physical ailments, or other approaches as recommended by your physician. For the purposes of this book, we'll focus on nonphysical types of stress.)
Shifting the Locus of Control
Reducing your stress doesn't imply that you deny a problem, ignore an issue, or fail to deal with things you really need to deal with. You can't escape your own responsibility or deny reality (you actually might for a while, but that can lead to even less desirable results in the long run). Rather, truly reducing stress requires the opposite: acceptance and responsibility. These are two of the most transformative, empowering tools in the face of stress because they internalize your locus of control. Choosing to accept that something is the way it is in the moment, and then accepting responsibility for what is yours, puts you directly in charge so you can make decisions and take action. Sometimes that action is external (such as to stop playing a video game or stop eating sweets because of the stressful effect on you) and sometimes it's within your consciousness (such as to stop stressing yourself with inner statements like "everything is horrible" or "I can't do anything right").
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CHAPTER 3-7: TRANSFORMING BELIEFS (EXCERPT)
Beliefs are ideas that you take as fact, whether or not they are accurate or have been verified in any way. We form some of our beliefs based on what we observe in our own experience, such as the belief that "It gets dark at night." Beliefs can also come from other people, such as from scientists telling us that "Eating vegetables helps keep us healthy." We also form beliefs by coming to our own conclusions or making assumptions, such as "My sister is trustworthy." Some beliefs show up in our consciousness without us even realizing where they came from, such as "I don't deserve a decent income" or "People don't like me."
Just because you believe something doesn't mean that it's accurate or rational, or even that it rings true for you or works well for you. In fact, some beliefs can work against you, such as the following types of beliefs:
– Outdated beliefs–Beliefs that you formed in the past but that no longer ring true for you, such as beliefs that you formed when you were too young to know any better. Examples include a belief that "I'm not a good learner" that you formed based on your experience in second grade, or a belief that "My opinions never matter," which you based on your parents ignoring your opinions when you were a child.
– Irrational beliefs–Beliefs that have no logical basis or no basis in reality, or that conflict with verifiable facts. Examples include the belief that "No one loves me," when in fact you have family members and friends who love you very much, or "If I don't get an A on this test, I'm a complete failure in life," when in fact the result of one test won't likely destroy all of your chances for success in the future–and besides, "success" and "failure" are completely subjective. Irrational beliefs are often weighted down with emotion waiting to be expressed (for more about expressing emotions, see "Chapter 3 4: Processing Emotions," p. 58).
– Implanted beliefs–Beliefs that were not originally your own, but that you adopted by picking them up from another person, group, the media, or another source outside yourself–perhaps without your awareness, and in some cases through no conscious intention on the part of the source. Just because a belief was implanted doesn't mean it doesn't serve you well, but because implanted beliefs were not yours to begin with, they're worth re-evaluating. One example is an implanted belief that "I can never be an artist," which was based on overhearing your first grade music teacher tell your mother that you have no artistic potential. Other examples include creating a belief that you'll only be acceptable if you wear a certain brand of sunglasses, based on ads you saw depicting that idea–or creating a belief that it's okay to steal if you're doing it to help someone else, which you picked up while watching a movie depicting such activity as acceptable. A belief can also become implanted into your consciousness as a result of hearing it repeated over and over again. Repeated statements from others can be particularly tricky because they can slip past your critical thought process and lodge into your consciousness without your awareness. One example might be a belief that women must always wear makeup, which became imbedded in your consciousness after repeatedly hearing your grandma say, "You're never fully dressed without your makeup." Another example is a belief that you could never start your own business, which you formed after repeatedly hearing that successful entrepreneurs are all big risk takers (which you feel that you're not).
Beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, if you create the belief that "I can't trust anyone," then you probably can't–not because all people are untrustworthy, but because this belief keeps you from allowing yourself to even try to trust people. You have closed your mind to the idea of trusting people. If you create a belief that "I can't do anything right," it can become like an affirmation as you repeat it to yourself, and it may start affecting you subconsciously in a way that leads to mistakes you wouldn't otherwise make, such as by undermining your confidence.
You may choose to transform your beliefs that you decide are inaccurate, irrational, or don't ring true for you because you feel they are holding you back, causing you to miss valuable experiences, or simply polluting your inner environment. For example, think about how your interactions with people might change if you transformed the belief that "People are basically unsocial" into "People are basically friendly," or if you transformed the belief that "I'm not good at talking to people" into "I'm learning to be a better conversationalist." Beliefs can color your perception of everyone and everything you experience in life. You give beliefs great power when you let them take root in your consciousness, so be wise about what you choose to believe. When you are mindful of your beliefs and you consciously decide which you'll hold onto, you take back your own power. Your beliefs about yourself can deny your worth and bring you down, or they can support you and lift you up–you get to decide.
Here are the steps in the process for Transforming Beliefs:
1. Identify the outdated, irrational, or other belief you've decided to change because it's not serving you well.
2. Release the belief by saying inwardly or out loud, "I release the belief that (say the belief you want to transform)."
3. Choose a new belief to replace the one you just released. Be sure that it rings true for you and supports you (and others, if applicable) in a positive, uplifting way.
4. Replace the old belief by saying, "I replace the old belief with the belief that (say the new belief you are creating)."
The following examples illustrate how to release and replace beliefs:
– "I release the belief that I'll never find work that I love, and I replace it with the belief that I can find or create a livelihood that brings me joy."
– "I release the belief that I am a loser unless everyone likes me, and I replace it with the beliefs that I have no control over other people's opinions of me, and that by being myself I'll attract the kind of friends I want to be around."
– "I release the belief that I'm a bad person if I'm not constantly doing nice things for others, and I replace it with the belief that my value is based on who I am rather than what I do."
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CHAPTER 3-6: REFRAMING (EXCERPT)
In your day-to-day activities, the way you perceive yourself, someone else, or a situation can limit you, even without your awareness. When you encounter something–such as an external event or a thought in your head–your experience of it is shaped by the way you choose to see and interpret it, what you tell yourself about it, and the labels you put on it. You might immediately label something as "good" or "bad," "wanted" or "unwanted," "fun" or "boring," instantly creating an inner frame of reference that colors your experience of that thing. Think about how differently you might experience your first day on a new job if your frame of mind was "I intend to enjoy this new adventure" rather than "I'm probably going to dislike this company and everyone who works here." The good news is that you are in control of your frame of reference, and you can change it.
Here's an example of how your internal frame of reference can make all the difference. Consider what it would be like to view a beautiful painting while wearing glasses with green-colored lenses. Everything would look greenish to you, and you couldn't see the full range of beautiful reds, yellows and blues. You might completely miss the beauty of the painting, and you might declare the painting to be boring and ridiculous. However, if you remove your limiting glasses, you can see the range of colors, experience the painting as it actually is, and enjoy its full expression. In your day-to-day life you can change the "inner glasses" through which you view yourself and the world so you can see more clearly, in a way that works better for you. This inner shift is called reframing.
Reframing gives you power over how you experience things in your life. Even when you can't control what happens around you, you can control your experience of and your inner reaction to what happens. Anything that you might tend to interpret in a self-defeating way can be transformed, creating a more self-supporting, positive, and uplifting inner experience. For example, you can use reframing to transform a failure into a win ("Look what I learned") in your mind, or to transform an obstacle into a stepping stone to whatever is next ("I can use this to move forward"). When used in a beneficial way, this technique can transform the environment inside your head into a much more pleasant place.
Reframing can entirely shift the way you relate to yourself, others, events, and situations. Since labels and judgments can create a kind of "blind spot" obscuring your view of a situation, reframing can restore your full range of "vision" of a situation–allowing you to see it more clearly for what it is, and perhaps revealing opportunities you couldn't previously see. For example, if you're busy viewing a situation as a failure, you might not spot an opportunity in its midst. The ability to shift out of a "failure" mode of thinking is the reason we have innovative products like bubble wrap, which originally failed as a textured wallpaper before it was repurposed as a packaging material.
Since this Reframing technique helps you change the way you see things, you can also use it to help see your way forward when you're feeling blocked or stuck. When you're trying to solve a problem that you just can't seem to move past, instead of using the label "unsolvable problem," you might reframe the situation as "an opportunity to get really creative" or "a great chance for collaboration with others"–or some other perspective that helps you work through the problem.
The Reframing technique involves shifting your internal frame of reference through which you are viewing something external (an event, situation, person, etc.) or something internal (a thought, feeling, or other inner dynamic). You can reframe any situation that seems challenging or that's not working for you, or that you think you'd benefit from seeing in a different light. Some telltale signs of an opportunity for reframing include judgments, self-defeating language, and frustration, or when you notice that you're fighting against a particular thought, feeling, or situation in your life. Consider how you might reframe the situation in a way that works better for you, that highlights an opportunity or lesson, that can help move you forward and upward, and that is a win-win situation for you and others involved. In other words, think of how you can remove your distorted lens of negative or limited perception and shift into a lighter, more self-supportive way of seeing.
The reframing process involves these two steps:
1. Identify something within or around you that you'd like to reframe.
2. Create a new frame through which to view the situation by removing the current frame (your current perspective and labels) so you can see the situation more clearly (neutrally). Replace the old way of viewing the situation with a new way that's more accurate, neutral, positive, or beneficial to you (and to any other people involved).
The following examples illustrate how you might use the Reframing technique to shift the way you relate to a particular aspect of your life:
Consider if you really disliked your long, boring commute to work on the train. You decide to reframe your commute time as "dream time" during which you work toward your personal dreams and goals, such as writing the book or screenplay you've always wanted to write or studying for your next career. Another idea is reframing your commute as "fun time" for surfing the internet, reading the latest bestseller, or other activities you enjoy. You could also reframe it as a chance to plan your day and catch up on messages or as quiet time when you meditate or reconnect with yourself.
Imagine a situation at work in which a new co-worker keeps bugging you with questions about your group's guidelines for completing engineering reports. You view the co-worker as a pest who won't leave you alone. You choose to reframe this situation in a way that works better for you. First, you shift your frame of view of your co-worker to see her as a team player who's eager to learn and contribute to the group. This new view changes your attitude about the person and seems like it will make your interactions more pleasant. You also shift your view of the situation, now viewing it as an opportunity to practice your training skills. Training this co-worker in group procedures will enable you to add "procedural training" to your performance report and resume. You also reframe the situation as an opportunity to improve your team process by documenting your group's guidelines, thus streamlining the group's work, reducing future interruptions with questions about guidelines, and allowing you to add "documentation experience" to your performance report and resume.
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CHAPTER 4-3: 10-SECOND STRESS-RELIEF VALVE
This is a simple technique to quickly release stress and psychological tension. If you're feeling overwhelmed or overcome by emotion (fear, grief, anger, etc.), this technique can provide a channel for the instant release of that energy, leaving you calmer and more centered. This is an easy exercise with dramatic results.
1. Visualize a small sphere of white light on the front surface of your abdomen, about four inches above your belly button (in front of your stomach, about halfway between your belly button and the lower tip of your sternum).
2. Visualize the sphere moving to a point a few feet straight out in front of you, then focus on it for ten seconds or more. Notice any stress or tension streaming from your abdomen into the sphere, as if a plug has been removed, and then dissipating. The longer you focus on the sphere, the more you'll release.
You can try this with your eyes open or closed, and experiment with how far out in front of you to visualize the sphere.
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CHAPTER 4-11: OBSERVING YOUR THOUGHTS
The technique of observing your thoughts involves shifting into "inner observer" mode, simply watching what's going on in your mind rather than reacting to it. This technique is particularly helpful when you're experiencing stress or overwhelm, or as a mindfulness technique when you want to be aware of what's going on in your consciousness.
Observing your thoughts involves temporarily stepping back from your thoughts and into a higher, more neutral place from which your thoughts can't trigger negative reactions within you. In other words, you're choosing to center yourself in an inner place that's beyond judgment, opinion, worry, or other stressful reaction. Shifting into this mode provides several benefits:
– Moves you out of reaction mode and breaks the pattern of constantly reacting to one thought after another.
– Reduces the stress and other deleterious effects of reacting to your thoughts.
– Shifts your locus of control, empowering you to decide which thoughts to give energy to, "buy into," or perpetuate.
– Enhances inner peace because you're no longer engaging with whatever thought happens to shows up.
To shift into the mode of observing your thoughts, simply begin observing anything that comes into your mind. Whatever thought shows up, just observe it with the attitude of, "Oh, look at that thought that just showed up. Isn't that interesting?" Don't jump in and start evaluating the thought, labelling it as "good" or "silly," expanding on it, or anything else. Just watch and remain neutral. Eventually the thought will float away or be replaced with another one, which you will then observe.
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