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Home / Stress Management / Awareness and Self-Awareness
Stress Management

Awareness and Self-Awareness

We have many ways of reconnecting to our inner and outer selves. We must only stay still long enough to allow it to happen. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of 'Wherever you go, there you are:' 

"Letting go means just what it says. It's an invitation to cease clinging to anything - whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, a view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are."

Watching your breath as it goes in and out is an excellent starting place for this practice of letting go. As you allow your body to "breathe itself," interesting things start to happen. Gradually, the "out there" becomes "in here" and the "in here" becomes "out there." "I" becomes "we," and "we" become "one" as boundaries fade and disappear. For a moment, we slip into that space between the worlds. We have shifted from human "doing" to human "being."

Even done briefly, this awareness exercise is amazingly refreshing, revitalizing, and awakening in more ways than one. Our habitual patterns become clearer, and we start to see choices in our perceptions and responses. Reality is not what it used to be! We begin to notice that maybe the boss didn't mean to be critical, he was just having a rough day. Or the attractive guy or woman in the next office is smiling at you and meaning it, and not just being polite as you had previously thought. By slowing down, you have practiced a sharpening of your inner and outer perceptions, with better understanding of yourself and those around you. Your intuition may be sharper. You may even find yourself saying 'no' to an unwanted assignment, and not even feel guilty about it.
Related Topic: Guided Imagery, Meditation

The Way to Inner Peace

Transcendental meditation (TM), yoga, Zen-they all work by inducing the relaxation response. Relaxation Response is a term first coined by Herbert Benson, M.D., at Harvard Medical School.
Relaxation response shuts off the distracting, stressful, anxiety-producing aspects of what is commonly called the fight-or-flight response.

A person experiencing the relaxation response turns off all the hormones and behaviors that are making him nervous. Basically any kind of meditation will produce it, though TM, yoga, and Zen require formal instruction and a good amount of self-discipline.

Dr. Benson suggests the following basic program for eliciting the response.

One, pick a focus word or phrase ("peace," for example) that is firmly rooted in your personal belief system.
Two, sit quietly, close your eyes, and relax.

And three, start repeating your focus word in time with your breathing, each time you exhale. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.