We have known for nearly two generations that stress is a physiological response to change, that we perceive on multifaceted levels – by that I mean emotional, physical, psychological – as a threat to our survival. In receiving this threat within our internal systems, we are called upon to respond in only two ways: to “fight or flight.”
Our body quickly mobilizes to give us added strength and speed, which expresses as rapid heart rate and shallow, rapid breathing. This changes the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in our systems, which causes our veins and arteries to constrict, making it more difficult for the circulation of blood, oxygen, and elimination. Accompanied with these basic responses can be sensations of both physical and psychological pain which serve as further warnings and directives to separate one from what is perceived to be the source of the stress, or threat.
Physiological symptoms associated with the stress response include headache, stomachache, constipation, diarrhea, chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, sweating, chills, palpitations, blurred vision, and impaired hearing. Psychological symptoms include depression, confusion, anxiety, denial, avoidance, inability to make decisions, panic, paranoia, projection, violent/aggressive behavior, fear, hyperactive behavior, inability to perform tasks, procrastination, impaired judgment, narcissistic behavior, sleep disturbance, nightmares, and convoluted thinking.
Like Pandora opening the box and meeting all the ills of the world, the stress response, only initiated by our basic need and right to insure our survival, carries us into terrible “stuck points”. That is why so many books, courses and approaches have been offered to free the Self from this response, which is what this chapter is about: clearing a space within yourself and disconnecting these systems, or turning off the “red alert”. On an electromagnetic level the stress response ties up our energies, forcing us to communicate along rigid signal lines that are fear-based. We must evolve those “fight or flight” patterns in order to create a significant shift into a safe space.
Write the word “STRESS” at the top of a clean sheet of paper. Write whatever words or phrases come into your mind, one word or phrase to a line, in response to this word, until you have run out of ideas. Now look over what you have written. This is a picture you have painted of the part stress continues to play in your life, as well as your response to these stresses, and how you have identified the source of the threat to your survival. What do you think about this map? Write down your responses.
Your response is your beginning dialogue with your inner self about your stress response. This is designed by your inner self, the center of your being, which is free from stress, to direct you through this gridwork “up and out”. Just stay with your feelings for a few moments. Now imagine that somehow your feelings carry you to a safe place of beingness. What happens inside you through this experience? Record your insights.