Life or Stress?


Any event, good or bad, causes a stress response if we are unprepared for the situation at hand. Our stress responses exist to ensure safety in our world, for our dependents and ourselves; its function is to respond to danger, not Life itself.

What is Life? Life, in a yogic context, is summed up as those things in day to day existence that bring us peace, joy, contentment and open, loving awareness. It is our basic nature to be peaceful, loving and open – not mistrustful, closed and afraid.

What is Stress? Well, virtually everything else – mostly non-life threatening and largely self-inflicted by placing monumental importance on incidental things. Stress is summed up in the things that cause us to act against our basic human nature.

Let’s take a moment and look at our range of day-to-day stress: we have job stress, family/relationship stress, health stress, money stress…and an overpowering amount of media that encourages stress, keeping us on the lookout for the quick fix, hungry for possessions and terrified about the state of the world today. We drink stress like coffee, consuming several cups of the stuff per day. As such we are habituated to stress, so accustomed to being in a heightened state that our natural stress responses become dulled by overuse. Our natural state of calm awareness is affected too, dulled from lack of use.

The truth is that most of our stress comes from perceived threats to our ego and identity – not our lives. Unfortunately, there are places in the world where day-to-day living is synonymous with real stress, but for most of us, it is not.

How does this relate to yoga practice? Living in a heightened state of alert, we tend to create stress for ourselves, in order to maintain the status quo. We bring stress to our yoga practice in the form of perceived ego threats: performance anxiety, comparison to others and personal criticism. We all know what happens when we experience stress, breathing becomes shallow and ragged and the mind becomes confused. So the solution is simple – come home to the breath; regain focus on your practice, your life, or the situation at hand. This transaction applies universally, to any situation and is the most efficient, effective way to combat stress and anxiety – simply breathe.

So now I’ve identified a concern, is this something to stress about? No, but as part of being mindful and practicing Ahimsa (non-violence), it benefits us all, instructors and students alike, to be aware of how stress plays out in life, in the body and in our fundamental regulating mechanism, the breath. A dozen deep breaths will remind you that Everything is already Ok.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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