Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Killer Stress

Night before last I was just flipping through channels, almost resolved to turn the tube off and find another plan when I stumbled across a National Geographic special on PBS, "Killer Stress".

This was a great one hour presentation on the effects that stress has on our lives and our health, presenting research on the link between stress and disease and even exploring the sociocultural causes or breeding grounds of stress (our position in various hierarchies in relation to power v. lack of power).

The following is a snippet from the PBS website summary of the documentary:

"The stress response: in the beginning it saved our lives, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today, human beings are turning on the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with 30-year mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, final exams, difficult bosses and even traffic jams — we can't seem to turn it off. So, we're constantly marinating in corrosive hormones triggered by the stress response".

More on the documentary can be found here.

In thinking about stress, my own and in general, I was filled with relief that I have this secret weapon--not really secret, but underused for so many people. My yoga practice has equipped me with what I need to move through stress with grace.

I still succumb to flare-ups now and then but I have the tools within me to soothe my own soul and however slowly the peace comes, it does come--a truth I have come to believe in like I know the sun will rise tomorrow, just as today.

I seem to be in a place today where I am holding onto that truth like the string of a prized helium balloon so it doesn't slip from my grip into the beyond--just sitting on the edge of a quake, trying not to be I breathe, balance and breathe.

Part of preventing stress from becoming an all-encompassing force in our lives too comes from our level of happiness or overall contentment with where we are at any given moment. Over time, I have become better at sitting with myself WHEREVER I'm at in my range of emotions and wherever I am in my life, physically or situationally.

This contentment is a practice, cultivated over time and for me, it was a matter of paying attention, showing up to life, especially to the moment and releasing the grip that wants to steer, control or 'attach' to a particular outcome.


This comes from an article in a Yoga Journal newsletter, featuring the wisdom of T.K.V. Desikachar:

“A lot of people are doing postures, but are they happy? They can do a beautiful posture, but their life is a big headache.” Mastery of yoga is really measured, Desikachar says, by “how it influences our day-to-day living, how it enhances our relationships, how it promotes clarity and peace of mind.”

This is my path of teaching right now--conveying the practice in a way that makes it relevant and significant off the mat, outside of the studio, for my students. I know, I know--they probably have to come to this on their own but I know what is in my heart, so where's the middle ground?

It's all good in the hood...namaste'

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