Principle: Emotions lodge in our bodies.
When we feel stress, we feel tension in our bodies, on a physical level. Have you ever really thought about that? Our shoulders might tighten. We might feel a headache coming on. Our teeth clench, or our jaw tightens. We even breathe differently.
In addition to those tightening sensations, our physical bodies change out of being “present” with what is happening to “tightening” to preparing for what we “anticipate” will be happening. I think of it in this way: My body is traveling into the “future” -- but I still have to cope in the present. Of course, I am now having to cope in two dimensions - present, and future -- and that rarely works out well.
Our physical body reacts to what our thoughts dictate. That is what stress "is." If our thoughts are “in the future,” our bodies will react as if the future is now.
What’s the first step to eliminating stress?
The first step, then, is not necessarily to resolve whatever the issue is -- because oftentimes we need time to work through the issue. Things happen. We do not have to resolve the issues, however, while we feel stressed and tight inside.
We need to simply remind ourselves to be fully present -- to ignore the tendency to put ourselves into "another dimension." It's not that we don't plan for the future, but that we manage how we plan.
We can say something like this: "I am going to be present, and function in how things are right now."
Then it is much easier to relax.
We can also say to ourselves, "For five minutes I am going to think about the future, so that I can plan and find out how to prepare, but then I am going to remain in the present while I do those things." That helps us know that we're present, and don't have to be in two places at one time.
Our bodies will be able to calm down, and we will be able to handle the situation more effectively.
Question: When you feel stress, what happens in your body?