Finding Your Peaceful Center

Last week I happened to be corresponding with one of the administrators of the Bach Centre in England. I mentioned my gratitude for Rescue Remedy, and he responded that it had been in wide use at the Centre that week, as well.

That correspondence -- as well as other events -- stimulated me to think once again about stress and decide that this would be an appropriate time to update an article I wrote on the subject several years ago.

In addition, the index of Rainbow Reflections and Living with Crystals articles have links to articles about fear, anxiety, worry, and articles on how to meditate. You may find these helpful at this time.

What Stress Does

How do you feel when you experience happiness, joy, when life is good and you trust the universe to provide you with all you desire? You feel expansive, maybe like raising your arms in the air and waving them. Your breathing is easy, your heartbeat and muscles are relaxed. You feel so safe that you don't even think about feeling safe.

Stress, which occurs when we perceive a threat to our safety or ultimately to our lives, is the opposite of the above.

A turtle withdraws into its shell when it feels such a threat. A hedgehog rolls into a ball. Some of the physical ways humans and other mammals respond to stress include:

Muscular tension, which creates "body armor," a protection against physical wounds.

Speeded up metabolism, breathing, and heart rate, which enables one to more quickly fight or flee.

Arterial construction and faster blood clotting to prevent blood loss from injury.

These physical responses can save our lives if we are directly threatened. However, humans have a characteristic not shared by most other animals. With our imagination we can create scenarios that seem so real our bodies -- and often our minds -- can't distinguish them from immediate threats.

Thus, people who are afraid of air travel can imagine themselves dying in an air crash, though they are nowhere near, let alone in, a plane, and their bodies experience sensations similar to those they might feel if the crisis were actually unfolding.

On a lower-key, but more chronic level, the thought and fear of danger, death, loss of love or employment, or potential disruption) can also arouse these responses. When they are frequently or constantly invoked, they can, rather than save our lives, threaten our wellbeing, health and ultimately our lives.

Chronic muscular tension can lead to a wide variety of disorders. Chronic anxiety can cause asthma and digestive disorders. Chronic arterial constriction and blood that clots too quickly are related to heart disease.

Stress and Energy

Leading medical and scientific authorities increasingly agree on the above points. Practitioners and teachers of vibrational healing recognize that the physical symptoms of stress reflect a deeper imbalance.

The basic principle of vibrational healing (which can include interacting with crystals, flower and other essences, Reiki, visualizations, and more) is that all living things are created and maintained by a universal energy. This energy, as it flows into each of us, translates into our personal energy.

When this energy is flowing freely, we experience love, a feeling of connection, emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health, creative, and general wellbeing and trust in the universe to support us. When we experience fear, we are saying (usually unknowingly), "the universe is not a safe place and I don't want to be part of it." We roll up into spiritual balls and block ourselves from universal source energy, thus disconnecting ourselves from our source of life. In essence, we create that which we fear.

Dissolving Stress

It's vital to to interrupt the escalating stress syndrome. Be aware when you get tense, anxious, or fearful.

One of the most effective ways to reverse the escalation is to stop what you're doing and breathe deeply at least ten times. Make sure you're breathing correctly. In correct breathing, the abdomen expands first, then the solar plexus, then the chest. You can monitor this process by placing one hand on your abdomen, the other on your chest. In exhaling, the chest should sink first, then the solar plexus, then the abdomen.

Counting as you inhale and exhale both eases your breathing and distracts your mind. I like the pattern of inhaling to a count of four, holding to a count of four, and exhaling to a count of eight.

Also, as you breathe, you can focus on the path of your breath through your body. Imagine it beginning at your feet and going up to your head as you inhale, then going back down on the exhale.

Move

Sometimes inactivity can cause excessive energy to produce anxiety. It can be helpful to get up (especially if you spend your days at a desk or computer) and stretch and walk around. Regular moderate exercise, such as treadmill work, stationary bicycling, walking, or swimming will keep your stress level down, and can be a lifesaver when you are feeling severely stressed.

Note: Most exercise experts recommend having a physical examination to determine the level of exercise your body can comfortably handle.

Vibrational Relaxation

If you have learned, Reiki give yourself a treatment. At a minimum, Reiki your solar plexus. If you have been attuned to Reiki II, send distant healing to all stressful situations and also use the mental/emotional balance symbol. If you haven't learned Reiki consider learning this system.

Take Rescue Remedy. You'll find an article on it here.

Ask For Help

That many of us have issues about asking for help was confirmed by the response to September 1999's Rainbow Reflections article, People Who Need People.

A responsibility shared is a responsibility lightened, and working together to solve problems creates a warm feeling which in itself reduces stress.

Turn Off the TV

We live in an era of information overload. We can see or read about unlimited numbers of crises or disasters. With the combination of accessibility and the human ability to imagine, we can create feelings of endangerment and stress without actually physically experiencing that danger.

It takes great discipline and awareness not to get caught up in the drama of disaster. During the first days following the destruction of the World Trade Center, I managed for the most part to not watch television or read newspapers, but I found myself spending a lot of time at cnn.com until I realized I was experiencing all the classic symptoms of stress.

The greatest temptation may come from compassion and the desire to feel connected to those who are suffering. The nonphysical guide, Seth, had a powerful answer to this need, saying that if you see someone sinking into quicksand, you don't help them by jumping in with them. You help them by pulling them out.

We can't usually physically pull people out, but we can always pray, meditate, and envision a loving and healing outcome. I have read that one person staying focused on positive thoughts has the power of a million focused on negativity. Keep those positive, loving thoughts flowing.

Last, but far from least, seek the help of of crystals and flower essences.

Crystals

In my years of working with and selling crystals I have noticed that, after clear quartz, amethyst is probably the most popular crystal (rose quartz follows very closely). Amethyst is known as a stone which helps to eliminate nightmares and to aid meditation, thus helping to reduce stress on an around-the-clock basis. Wearing, carrying, and meditating with amethyst are good ideas if you are feeling stressed-out.

Sometimes people feel stressed because they aren't grounded. In other words, they are all over the place, their energy is erratic, and they just don't know how they can go on. Grounding stones are needed for this condition: smoky quartz, hematite, black tourmaline, tiger's eye, and obsidian.

Hematite is also helpful if you are taking on the emotions of others. It helps to form a protective shield. If you are feeling bombarded by general negativity (such as in the workplace), black tourmaline is a helpful stone.

Carnelian is a useful crystal if you're not feeling present and are having trouble making decisions (always an act with great stress potential).

Procrastination is very stressful (I speak from extensive personal experience). One of the best stones to get me in motion is rutilated quartz.

Another source of stress is conflict between the rational mind and the intuition. Moss agate can help to balance these forces so that they can work together instead of arguing.

Fear is a major stress producer, as it will consume just about all the energy you have, as well as create minor-to-major energy blockages in the being (and often in the body). Charoite is the crystal which helps to dissolve both known and unknown fears.

Guilt and resentment will also create considerable stress. The most useful crystal for these emotions is sugilite.

Essences

The feet which are connected to the ground are most likely to follow the path towards completion of responsibility. I highly recommend Turtle (Wild Earth Animal Essences). Turtle travels very close to the earth and is attuned to its slow, deep rhythms.

Elm (Bach) is ideal for those who feel so overwhelmed by their responsibilities that they don't know where to begin; while Oak (Bach) can help people who take on more than any one person can be expected to accomplish³particularly those who are reluctant to ask others for help.

Sometimes, out of overabundant enthusiasm, we take on projects to singlehandedly save the world (or our particular part of it), and also do our best to enroll our friends in our projects. Please note: I am not trying to suggest that enthusiasm, saving the world, or enrollment are negative, but if you are feeling stressed out by what you've taken on consider Vervain (Bach).

On the other hand, if you need a jump start to get going on what needs to be done Cayenne (FES) is a useful essence.

When you stay awake at night worrying about everything which needs to be done reach for the White Chestnut (Bach).

A Meditation for Stress Relief

Note: Though I have recommended particular stones for this meditation please feel free to substitute your favorites. I have also suggested particular images. Please feel free to substitute these, as well.

Also, as most of you know, there is a specific meditation for planetary healing.

First Chakra (place at feet): Hematite. In my experience this is one of the most grounding stones.

Second Chakra (pelvic area): Red Jasper. This stone helps to connect us to earth energies.

Third Chakra (navel): Tiger's Eye. This stone teaches patience in the pursuit of a goal.

Solar Plexus: Rhodochrosite. The solar plexus is actually part of the third chakra, but since rhodochrosite is perhaps the best stone to assist us in deep breathing, I have included it as a separate area.

Fourth Chakra (heart): Green Tourmaline. All tourmalines help to relieve stress, and green is the appropriate color for this chakra.

Fifth Chakra (throat): Aquamarine. This stone helps us feel the relaxing rhythms of the sea.

Sixth Chakra (forehead, above and between the eyes): Amethyst. This is the stone of tranquility.

Seventh Chakra: Clear Calcite. This stone will help you view your situation from a different perspective.

I also suggest that you hold a clear quartz point of any size in either hand (or both).

Begin by inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply, about 10 times. Imagine the muscles in your body relaxing.

Spend as much time as you need to in each of the following crystal positions.

First place your quartz crystal over the hematite. Imagine yourself being deeply rooted in the earth and protected from all negativity.

Next, place the quartz crystal over the red jasper. Feel the earth's rhythms flowing through you, calming and relaxing you.

Place the crystal over the tiger's eye. Imagine that you are a cat sleeping in the sun, totally relaxed and comfortable.

Then place the crystal over the green tourmaline. Imagine grass and leaves growing, slowly and surely.

Next, place the crystal over the aquamarine. Imagine that you are at the ocean, hearing the song of the surf, breathing the healing air, feeling warm and relaxed.

Now place the crystal above the amethyst. Feel the quiet hour of twilight and the soft colors of sunset. Feel yourself unwinding from the day's activities.

Finally, place the crystal over the clear calcite. Imagine that it's a year from now. See how small your problems look from this distant perspective. Relax in the knowledge that all is well.


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