Mindfulness to Manage Stress
Managing our stress is very important, first of all for our own mental and physical health, but also for the well-being of all those around us. When we are stressed we give out negative energy. When we are relaxed we give out positive energy. If we want to have a positive impact on our friends and family, on our society, and on the world, we must generate positive energy. To have a positive impact on the world we must be able first to manage our own stress.
Meditation is very important to our ability to let go of self and to begin to practice mindfulness. When we think we are too busy to meditate we know we are stressed. So first of all be sure to maintain your daily meditation practice.
“Mindfulness does not reject any experience.” Jack Kornfeld. Mindfulness does not judge.
Instructions for mindfulness using the acronym RAIN (I can’t remember who made this up so I don’t know whom to credit.) :
- Recognize: Pause and acknowledge the reality of your experience here and now. No denial. Denial undermines our freedom. Say hello to your experience, whatever it is in this moment. Recognition moves us towards freedom.
- Accept: Acceptance allows us to relax with things as they are. Acceptance takes courage. Life is really hard. We make choices that are difficult. Sometimes we have no choice and cannot change things. It is wisdom to know when we can change things and when we can’t and to accept those we can’t change. (Thank you AA Serenity Prayer.) Trying to control things is a poor use of our energy. Imagining we have control is an illusion.
- Investigation: Thich Nhat Hanh calls this “seeing deeply”. Being curious about what we experience is investigating. How did we come to think the way we do? Why don’t we like something? Are our perceptions justified?
- Non-Identification: Identification with what’s going on in our mind means we believe our thoughts. Our self-criticism, self-judgements, judgements of others, are all thoughts. Non-identifying means we observe such thoughts without believing them.this creates a more spacious mind.
Perspective: Take a larger view of your problem. Move as far away from it as you can. Look at it as if you were in an airplane or in another country. See how small you are and how small it is. Realize the interconnectedness of all things and the essential emptiness of what’s causing your stress. Relax and be with what is.