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My Meditative Moments

Stress Hearty…

by meditative - March 15th, 2010.
Filed under: Introductory Readings.

We live immersed in a sea of change… to see as integral and not as a threat is how we learn to better cope as well as adapt to it.

As we have already discussed stressors are unavoidable, and we are continually adapting to the demands they place upon our body.On a psychological level, the general rule follows that how you see things and how you handle them makes all the difference in terms of how much stress you’ll experience.You have the power to affect the balance point between your internal resources for coping with stress and the stressors that are an unavoidable part of living. By exercising this capacity consciously and intelligently, you can control the degree of stress you wind up experiencing.

Moreover rather than having to invent a new way of dealing with every individual stressor that comes up in your life, you can develop a way of dealing with change in general- with problems in general- with pressures in general.The first step is recognizing when you are under stress in the first place.

The late Dr. Richard Lazarus, a prominent stress researcher at UC- Berkeley, emphasized that perhaps the most fruitful way to look at stress from a psychological point of view is to consider it as a transaction between a person and his/her environment.Dr. Lazarus defines psychological stress as a particular relationship between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding his/her resources and endangering his/her well-being.This means that an event can be more stressful for one person who may have fewer resources for dealing with it than for another person who has greater coping resources. It also implies that the meaning of the transaction will determine whether a situation is labeled as stressful or not. If you appraise or interpret an event as threatening your well-being then it will be taxing to you, but if you see it differently then the very same event may not be stressful at all, or a good deal less stressful to you.

Given a particular situation, the promise here is centered around the many potential ways of seeing it as well as the many potential ways of handling it. It means that the way we see, appraise and evaluate our problems will determine how we respond to them and how much distress we will experience. It also implies that we may have much more control over things that may potentially cause us stress than we might ordinarily think.While there will always be many potential stressors in our environment over which we cannot have immediate control by changing the way we see ourselves in relationship to them,we can actually change our experience of the relationship, and therefore modify the extent to which it taxes or exceeds our resources, or endangers our well-being.The transactional view of psychological stress also implies that you can be more resistant to stress if you build up your resources and enhance your physical and psychological well-being. For example, exercise,meditation and the practice of mindfulness.

Engaging in the practice of mindfulness meditation helps us to see our life’s situation more clearly, and thereby influence the level of stress associated with our habitual reactions in difficult situations. It also frees us from the tight grip of our many unconscious beliefs that ultimately inhibit our growth.With this in mind from moment to moment, it’s not so much the stressors in our lives, but how we see them and what we do with them that determines how much we are at their mercy. If we can change the way we see… we can change the way we respond.

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