How Stress Creates Success
There are times in life when stress crosses a tipping point. Last month I reached my maximum overload. Overnight, my part time hours for a full time job, two kids under five, husband, volunteer commitments, financial challenges, and sudden push into public speaking became too much for me. I felt the crushing weight of responsibility and fear of failure enfold me like a smothering blanket. I had pushed myself too far and knew that change was imminent.
I changed everything, but quit nothing. In fact, I added a huge project against all sane advice. Rather than quit, I learned to expand. I stopped seeing my responsibilities as my own and gave them back to Divine Mother, asking Her to work through me. If you have never done this, I cannot recommend it enough. By offering ourselves upward, to the divine in any form, we feel a natural sense of expansion. And, in doing so, I was able to get out of the way and empower the great humans around me, ready to take on new things, to join me and add their creativity freely.
Muscles grow when stressed. The same with our willpower. Willpower is the key to success in our outward life and our inward one. To be a successful business person requires the will to succeed. To be a disciplined and great yogi, willpower is paramount.
So by all means push. Push hard on yourself until you find your “edge” and then learn to breath there. As the great yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda once said,
“An easy life is not a victorious life.”
And yet, when we push too hard, our bodies, minds, and souls give us feedback. It is essential to recognize the signs of stress and learn to find that knife’s edge where we go beyond our limited ideas, but avoid falling off a cliff.
If harnessed correctly, stress can be a tremendous ally. Stress can provide the intel we need to succeed in all areas of life. Without it, we become lazy. When it reaches a zenith, we fall apart. When we find our perfect balance, we develop the willpower to succeed in all things.
Here are some useful tips to manage stress and turn it into your ally:
- Recognize the signs. Living with a certain level of stress is normal and healthy. When stress levels rise, it is important to notice the symptoms, so you can recognize what is happening before it causes damage. Sleep struggles? Irritability? Shortness of breath? Long sighs and eye rolls whenever someone asks the question, “How’s it going?” These are common signs of stress, but there are many more. Use self reflection to find yours and note them.
- Honestly assess your stressers. Is your life objectively that busy or stressful? Are you failing? What do others, who you respect and admire, feel you are capable of? Seeking feedback from those you respect can be a very useful mirror for gaining perspective on your stress levels.
- Scan your body for tension from the top of your head to your toes. Those places in the body where you find tension are the places where you store stress. They can cause ill health and should not be left unchecked.
- Breathe into the stress. The breath is tied to life force, prana, so the mere act of visualizing the breath entering the body parts where stress collects will have a calming effect on body, mind, and soul
- Adjust until you find the “edge”. Change your life, but only enough to move forward and find ease with breath. If you find yourself bored, you’ve gone too far!
- Meditate daily. The number one way to be in tune with the subtle energies of your body, to notice signs of stress before they go too far, and to learn to live in that sweet spot called your “edge” is to develop a daily practice of meditation. Would you like to learn to meditate? Here you go.