Practices to Transform Stress Into Energy
Updated: Sep 19
Are you suffering 2020 fatigue as I am? Do you know people affected by COVID-19, uprooted by wildfires and floods, suffering to hold together families, education, businesses, jobs, incomes, and hope, dying from co-morbidities, traumatized by the state of our nation, and by now likely to be asking, "Why is this happening?"
We may notice ourselves turning away or "tuning out"; hoping for an end instead of acting for solutions. In this stage of traumatic stress, it is dangerous when we begin to grow numb.
We may find our sleep negatively affected and our energy low. Sleep apnea may develop as we unconsciously repeat shallow, erratic, and holding breath patterns. Our weight, blood pressure, glycemic load and cortisol may be increasing. Our Joint and muscle pain intensifying. Headaches, migraines and infections common. We may notice our minds often distracted, anxious, and depressed. Our willpower, motivation, and discipline diminished as we crave our little comfort hits whatever they may be instead of repeating what actually makes us stronger. Depending on how much we have been negatively impacted and how isolated we may be, we may feel helpless and increasingly hopeless. This is stress assaulting our immunity and stability. Left unchecked, these symptoms can become chronic problems, putting you and others you interact with at higher risk for declines in health and survival.
Transitions, uncertainty, setbacks, imbalances, sickness and loss are hard things to face. Yoga Therapy trains us to look from a wider lens when our now normal resembles what University of Massachusetts professor Jon Kabat-Zinn terms, "Full Catastrophe Living".
It provides a personal survival toolkit we can lean into to manage our stress, strengthen our whole health, and grow our courage, clarity, and wisdom to act for solutions rather than wait for them. It's transformational. It invites more effective questions and considerations such as:
Why is this happening FOR ME so I can correct my course to positively effect the future?
What are the opportunities in my circumstances if I act now?
How could I now take steps to become stronger, more stable, more resilient?
How could I begin again to clean up what isn't working and open a better way of living?
In this slowdown, in this pocket of unexpected time, what am I waiting for?
Yoga Therapy trains us to act from our full transformational power to shift stress into energy. It develops mindfulness to our movements , mind and body. It awakens us to our fuller capacities no matter what age or obstacle. It develops skills to act precisely, purposefully, and effectively with attention and intention to what we are creating and want to experience, not reckless, unnecessary, or random activity. It develops the important strength and courage to face what isn't in our control yet change what is in our control.
Transforming energy just requires time and practice. It's a set of skills we can learn just like anything else we seek.
It starts with learning how to minimize the level of our disturbance, our reaction, and its effects on our health. Our first reaction is actually a change in breathing we usually aren't conscious of. But the breath is a vital sign; it tells us how we are inwardly before it shows outwardly in thoughts, emotions, words, symptoms, actions, or condition.
We breathe approximately 24,000 times a day. Each breath is an opportunity to recover stability and calm from the last moment, to be fully present to all we now have and can do now, so we live more well in the next moment. But we don't take the time to notice and savor our breath so we lose that extraordinary opportunity and gift to transform stress into positive energy.
So the next time you sense yourself reacting, grab a YT tool: tell yourself to S.T.O.P.
STOP REPEATING thoughts, feelings, sensations, words & activities that disturb you.
TAKE SLOW DEEP BREATHS in and out to interrupt the reactive symptoms.
OBSERVE your feelings and thoughts without judgment and reaction.
PROCESS OUT the physiological and psychological residue you've already reacted to so you can let go the hold the past has over you, and persevere with the rest of your life in health, confidence, hope, joy, and focus to what is in your control to create.
As a notorious tiny woman with great stature and big shoes to fill once remarked, "Don't waste your energy on unproductive emotions. It's helpful to be a little deaf sometimes. Ignore the unkind words, don't linger in anger, jealousy, depression, fear. Save your energy for productive work." Very hard to do, but very worth the practice.
Don't accept "It is what it is". GO FOR IT.
On this day of the Jewish New Year, take an action to change the year ahead. Transform stress into energy. Be among those who know we will create what we will. We always have, we always can. That power is always in us, if we will only tap into, click on, choose to act toward what is in the best interest of the greatest possible. I'll meet you there sooner or later. I hope soon.