If you were to eavesdrop on all the conversations taking place around you, stress would likely be one of the most common words you’d hear. People say they feel stressed about their work, the economy, global politics, deadlines, their relationships, and just about everything else. Many suffer from the emotional and physical consequences of chronic stress, which include accelerated aging and increased rates of heart disease, anxiety, cancer, depression, migraine headaches, and other serious disorders.



10 Tathaastu

M. HATE STRESS ANGER FEAR TENSION While stress is considered an epidemic problem. racing heart rate.D. shallow breathing. every wave is an exhilarating adventure or at least an opportunity to learn something new.9 MIND-BODY TOOLS FOR STRESS RELIEF DEEPAK CHOPRA. or fight with our spouse that causes stress – it’s our thoughts and the story we tell ourselves about an event or circumstance that create the emotional upset. . on the other hand. It’s not the overdue payment. The analogy of a surfer is useful here: If you’re a skillful surfer. If you’ve never learned how to surf. I’ve never believed that it exists in the environment or in external situations. every wave is a terrifying potential disaster. traffic jam. I like to define stress as our response to what is happening. and other symptoms of the stress response.

• Your immune system weakens. •  Adrenalin and cortisol production surge. When your stress response is triggered. Let’s consider a common scenario: You’re at work when your manager calls and asks to immediately see you in her office. it could take a long time to find another job in this economy. • Blood pressure increases. • The production of sex hormones decreases. . your body has an instantaneous reaction: • Your heart beats faster. learning how to deal effectively with stress doesn’t require any athletic ability. You can learn to experience a restful response – a mind-body state that is as natural as the stress response. but no woolly mammoths are roaming through the office – just “thoughts” – convincing you that your survival is at stake. you may immediately begin to worry. Or you may find yourself getting angry. Choices that Relieve Stress There are many valuable practices that can help you go beyond the primal fight-or-flight response. It’s a skill anyone can learn.” Your dread builds and you really do not want to go to see your manager. Depending on your typical thought process. This company is lucky to have me here. it is valuable to look more deeply at what is known as the stress response. Your ancient fight-orflight response is gearing up. “After all the work I’ve put in. thinking. • Your breath becomes shallow and rapid.” You head toward your manager’s office feeling belligerent and ready to defend yourself. . the body continues to experience the negative effects of the stress response. I’m not putting up with any criticism. “What did I do wrong? I wonder if my job is on the line . the thoughts in your mind create stress in your body. if I get fired. The 10-Ton Thought Whether you react in fear or in anger. but infinitely more . • Digestion is halted. • Blood sugar rises. Researchers have found that even 24 hours after a triggering event.Spotlight Fortunately. First.

and stress hormone levels fall. the body relaxes too. including growth in the areas associated with memory. Your personal samskaras are created from the memories of your past and can force you to react in the same limited way over and over again. and stress hormone levels fall. and when the mind is in a state of restful awareness. It’s a way to clearly communicate your needs in a way that improves the likelihood that they will be met. stress-free relationships. and stress regulation. Tathaastu 13 . Research shows that people who meditate regularly develop less Meditation is a simple yet powerful tool that takes us to a state of profound relaxation that dissolves fatigue and the accumulated stress that accelerates the aging process. the book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. is an excellent place to start. To learn more. our breathing slows. We can nurture our brain’s power and maintain a youthful mind by developing a regular meditation practice. A recent groundbreaking study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital has made headlines by showing that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain. our blood pressure and heart rate decrease. By its very nature. conscious communication is part of the core curriculum for our staff members and is also taught at several of the workshops and programs we offer. anxiety. Consider getting help from a conflict resolution expert if necessary. During meditation. also known as nonviolent communication. Furthermore. do it! Talk to friends about what you can do to change a situation or gain a new perspective on it. hypertension. empathy. usually without our being consciously aware of the process.peaceful and healing. sense of self. During meditation. which can be seen as grooves in the mind that make thoughts flow in the same direction. Conscious Communication. How Does Meditation Work? We are all engaged in a continuous internal dialogue in which the meaning and emotional associations of one thought trigger the next. meditation calms the mind. This study adds to the expanding body of research about the brain’s amazing plasticity and capacity to grow and change at any stage of life. but if there is action you can take to resolve a stressful situation. With practice. At the Chopra Center. our breathing slows. In meditation we disrupt the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions by focusing on a new object of attention. Here are some of the most effective tools and techniques: 1) Resolve the Stressful Situation If Possible You may not have much control over many of the sources of stress in your life. our blood pressure and heart rate decrease. and create more fulfilling. A mantra is pure sound. Most people build up their identity on the basis of samskaras without even realizing they are doing this. heart disease. new studies are finding that meditation literally restores the brain. with no meaning or emotional charge to trigger 2) Meditate Meditation is a simple yet powerful tool that takes us to a state of profound relaxation that dissolves fatigue and the accumulated stress that accelerates the aging process. ask for what you want. the “object of attention” is a mantra that you repeat silently to yourself. One skill that is extremely helpful in preventing and eliminating stress is conscious communication. Buddhist psychology describes this process as samskaras. you can learn to express your needs. and other stress-related illnesses that speed up aging. In the practice of Primordial Sound Meditation.

It’s easy because harmonious self-regulation is the body’s ground state. The normal state of relaxed awareness tries to co-exist with the disrupted. Enjoy what your body wants to do. stressed or overshadowed. “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress. Take a deep breath. Don’t judge what’s actually there. the body lives in the only moment that truly exists: the present. It reminds the body of its natural state of harmonious. and somebody cuts you off. agitated state of the stress response. It allows the mind to detach from its usual preoccupations and experience the spaciousness and calm within. and many other linked reactions. Don’t talk yourself into denial. Instead of being overshadowed by this disruption. The two don’t mix. While the mind is constantly flitting to thoughts of the future and memories of the past. A gap is an interval of nonreaction. Don’t be the policeman who stops the river of change by blocking it with frozen. harmony. disharmony enters the field of mind and body. The state of denial is an escape. the brain changes. Stress pulls you into another state of heightened biological response that triggers a flow of hormones. and happiness is your body. ask your body. It’s always speaking. coordinated self-regulation. When choosing a certain behavior. One of the best ways to relieve stress is to tune into your body. Your normal reaction is to be agitated or angry. Emotions change. Keep your attention on these sensations until they disappear. there’s a tendency to escape. Bodies like to rest. One of the most basic ways to be aware is by grounding yourself in the body. The more you practice meditation. Every cell is on your side. they aren’t meant to exist at the same time. But all are temporary. the more you are able to experience expanded states of pure awareness. proceed. One of the best ways to relieve stress is to tune into your body. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness. watch out. hyper-vigilance of the senses. but they also like to 14 Tathaastu . which means you have hundreds of billions of allies. Bodies like pleasure in general. overwhelmed. Your first and most reliable guide to balance. It stops the reaction from fueling itself.Spotlight associations. cells change. Accept what you feel. Simply feel your body whenever you’ve been distracted. Value spontaneity. and that grounds you. fixed beliefs. Your first and most reliable guide to balance. and happiness is your body. What you’ve done is cut off the stimulus response with a gap. harmony. increased heart rate. you jump out of the calm. be active. Be open to your body. Bodies like different kinds of food that are eaten with enjoyment. What can you do to start listening to your body? The most basic elements are as follows: Feel what you feel. Let’s say you’re driving a car. Trust your body. Any time you’re feeling distracted. There is no mystery to it. the mind lets go of old patterns of thinking and feeling and learns to heal itself. In the silence of awareness. relaxed focus that connects you to the mind-body field. since that is an easy way to come back to body awareness. If you allow the stress reaction to become a habit however. 3) Connect to Your Body While the mind is constantly flitting to thoughts of the future and memories of the past. just go within and feel the sensations of your body. they are emergency measures only. Be willing to listen. the body lives in the only moment that truly exists: the present.

In reality. Lightness of being in my body will be my indicator of happiness. What they all have in common is absence of awareness. If I am feeling lack of energy in any way. I will consult my heart. say the following affirmations to yourself and then carry your words into action: I will make choices to maximize the energy in my body. the opposite is true. The heart is the seat of emotional intelligence. The best way to replenish my body is FEEL WHAT YOU FEEL. The ideal state is to experience such lightness that I do not feel bounded by my body. . My body is my connection to the infinite supply of energy in the universe. I will ask my body what it needs and will sincerely follow its advice. compassion and love. It nurtures all relationships by reminding me to see myself in the other. and healing is fundamentally a return to wholeness. You numb or distract yourself under the false belief that unawareness will help you. Altering your mind with drugs and alcohol is an escape. My heart is a reliable guide when I trust it. it means that I am resisting the flow of this infinite supply. It monitors the emotions of others around me. To get on the path to increased awareness. Emotional intelligence allows me to get in touch with my deepest self. I will pay attention because these feelings are signs of inertia and the dreariness of habit over the potential that every moment has for freshness and new life. Before I act on any emotion. This helps me experience empathy. ACCEPT WHAT YOU FEEL. while being too aware will only increase your pain. If I feel heavy or dull in my body. Awareness heals because awareness is the only thing that is truly whole.Distracting yourself through overwork is an escape.

Here are the stress patterns of the three main doshas: Vata: Those with predominantly Vata constitutions have the greatest tendency toward anxiety and worry. In reality. a lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance. When you’re well-rested. Vatas tend to blame themselves for their problems and become extremely nervous and scattered. the joy of movement or communion with nature. 4) Understand Your Unique Stress Response Your mind-body constitution (known as your dosha in Ayurveda) plays a great role in how stress affects you. but if they’re out of balance. you can approach stressful . If you feel energetic and vibrant when you wake up. including the most effective ways to cope with stress. Pitta: Pitta types are usually warm and loving. Normally creative and enthusiastic. you had a night of restful sleep. situations more calmly.Spotlight to give it what it needs most. stress. Ayurveda offers specific recommendations for each mind-body type. but when faced with overwhelming conflict or stress. they may withdraw and refuse to deal with the situation. There is even a tendency for people to boast about how little sleep they can get by on. you haven’t had restful sleep. rest. Restful sleep means that you’re not using pharmaceuticals or alcohol to get to sleep but that you’re drifting off easily once you turn off the light and are sleeping soundly through the night. and speeds up the aging process. Kapha types are usually easygoing and gentle. weakens our immune system. If you feel tired and unenthusiastic. they typically react to stress by finding fault with other people and becoming angry. in the face of 5) Get Plenty of Sleep Restful sleep is an essential key to staying healthy and vital. yet sleep is so often neglected or underemphasized. Human beings generally need between six and eight hours of restful sleep each night. whether it’s sleep. Kapha: The most even-tempered dosha is Kapha. life-giving nourishment.

talk to your doctor before you begin.m. and also use focused breathing to quiet the mind. One of the most popular styles in the U. Most use a series of postures designed to stretch and strengthen muscles. Whichever style of yoga you choose. a mat (some classes will provide mats) and the desire to learn. take it slowly at first. we teach a unique style of yoga known as the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Other styles such as Ashtanga and Power Yoga are more vigorous.). let your teacher know about any injuries or health issues. or look for a class that is a better fit. As we expand our awareness through the practice of yoga. You can also get started by using a good instructional book or DVD at home. 6) Practice Yoga Yoga is another timeless healing practice for releasing stress and the damaging effects of the fight-or-flight response. With a regular practice. Ideally. to 2 p. getting active can help you relax and help turn off your body’s stress response. you will develop more flexibility. Ayurveda teaches that the optimal sleep routine is to rise with the sun and go to sleep when it’s dark out. although it’s usually better for beginners to start with a class. and strength training. is Hatha Yoga. You can go for a leisurely walk after dinner and then be in bed by 10 p. eat only a light meal in the evening. Your teacher shouldn’t push you to do poses that aren’t comfortable. The body’s digestive powers are strongest between the hours governed by the Pitta dosha (10 p. There are many different styles of yoga. talk to him or her. cardiovascular conditioning. Tathaastu 17 . If you are pregnant or have any serious health conditions.S. At the Chopra Center. but it also balances the mind and body.m. Don’t try to force yourself into difficult poses at the beginning. instead of focusing all its energy on digesting a heavy meal. increasing the production of stress-relieving hormones. The intention of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga is to integrate and balance all the layers of our life so that our body. slow-moving. and spirit flow in harmony. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment or to be in great shape to start practicing yoga. Not only is yoga an excellent physical exercise that increases your flexibility and strength. even in the face of life’s inevitable upsets and disappointments. By eating a light dinner. known as circadian rhythms. calming the nervous system. we become more capable of perceiving the richness that life offers. a relatively Whether it’s walking outside with a friend or taking an exercise class at the gym. and 10 a.m. You gradually stop dwelling on stressful thoughts and feel more lighthearted and joyful. Choose the style that fits your goals and level of fitness.You can get the highest quality sleep by keeping your sleep cycles in tune with the rhythms of the universe. and then go for a leisurely walk.m. Getting Started with Yoga: Find out about the different kinds of yoga that are offered at classes in your area. or at least by 10 p. to 2 a. intellect. All it takes is loose clothing. If your teacher is going too fast. your body can use the Pitta cycle to detoxify itself and get the deep rest it needs. you begin to experience a sense of calm and wellbeing that extends beyond the yoga mat into your daily life. gentle style. mind. strength and stamina. which focuses on body-centered restful awareness. After a while. Once you start a class. before 7:30 if possible.m. heart.m. It’s also very helpful to download your thoughts from the day in a journal before going to bed so that your mind doesn’t keep you awake. A complete fitness program includes exercises to develop flexibility. and releasing stored toxins.

But if you make even a little bit of time for an activity you really enjoy. and do them regularly.D. find physical activities you enjoy. you can deal with stress better. do that. After your body is warmed up. isolated or inadequate and if you feel good about yourself. The important thing is to start off slowly. so adding more activities to your schedule might seem like the last thing you need. If the most you can do right now is walk around the block. 8) Exercise Regularly Whether it’s walking outside with a friend or taking an exercise class at the gym. combining authentic Ayurvedic treatments and therapies. doing a craft. meditation and Ayurveda. Whether it’s playing music. The goal in all of these practices isn’t to try to control the flow of life so that you’ll never experience stress or frustration again. a medical staff (M. and you will be surprised how quickly you increase your endurance and enthusiasm for moving and breathing. the secret is to be patient and offer yourself compassion as you learn to respond to challenges from a place of peace and calm. If your network of friends is small. It can keep you from feeling lonely. www. cardiovascular 18 Tathaastu . Deepak created the Perfect Health program. But they can also be an excellent distraction from what’s bothering you. Along with co-founder Dr. find physical activities you enjoy. getting active can help you relax and help turn off your body’s stress response. A complete fitness program includes exercises to develop flexibility. do that.s) trained in both Western and Eastern medicine. Find an aerobic activity that you can do regularly – three to four sessions each week for twenty to thirty minutes is usually enough to give you substantial benefits. or trying an online meet-up group to make new friends. and do them regularly.Spotlight 7) Spend Time with Loved Ones and Friends Research shows that a good social support network has definite mental health benefits. Friends and loved ones can be a good source of advice and suggest new ways of handling problems. and strength training. M. do something that absorbs and relaxes you. and instruction in yoga. If the most you can do right now is walk around the block. is a best-selling author and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad. spend five to ten minutes stretching. 9) Do Activities You Enjoy Part of being stressed out is feeling that you never have enough time. The important thing is to start off slowly. joining an outdoor activities group. and you will be surprised how quickly you increase your endurance and enthusiasm for moving and breathing.D. or working on your car. California.. You will also want to include strength training in your program to systematically exercise the major muscle groups of your body. the payoff can be huge: You feel calmer and happier and can deal with work and other demands better. David Simon. Deepak Chopra. think about volunteering.

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