Are you stressed out, scared or angry? What do you do when you feel you are in an un-resourceful state but just can’t snap out of it?
I was feeling a lot like Jamie Madrox, the multiple man, towards the end of last year. You know, feeling fragmented. It’s as if you’re shattered into several pieces and dealing with multiple problems in the present. Then there are those problems you’re still dealing with in the past. Tied round your leg like a ball and chain. You just can’t seem to cut the chain and let go. Other causes for stress could be real or imagined events in the future which you may think you have no control over.
Everybody seems to have an answer to handling stress. DJs, rockstars, business gurus, yoga teachers sports coaches and even maybe psychologists. What works for you? Are you put off by this new-age psychobabble? Have you found ways to deal with stress which is increasing not only because of the fast-paced world we live in but because the world is changing rapidly with news economic, social and political that sometimes seems more than gloomy, almost hopeless?
I don’t know. Whatever floats your boat, make use of it. Try out things.
This may have some relevance: I went on a hike with a friend and he was talking about responses to stress. He mentioned that he read something that said we are born in blood and our reaction to it can either be anger or fear. This may well influence the rest of our lives. I’m not sure. I’m not buying into this. It sounds like that pseudo-Freudian mumbo-jumbo. Psycho weirdness. We probably do have influences from childhood but perhaps not as simple and clear cut as this.
Before the end of the year I mentioned my fragmented state to an old friend. He knows me well. He’s been working on his life with running, frugal living and living close to nature. You might think he’s a rewire hippie but he grew up after the hippies. And he sold his LP collection long ago. His solution is he says that one has to aim for mindfulness.
Is mindfulness just another spiritual, psychological pseudo-term? Or is it important as the Buddha advocated — that one should establish mindfulness in one’s day-to-day life maintaining a calm awareness of your body, feelings, mind and Dharma?
Psychologists say that mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. To them it means observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance without judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Yes I know it’s easy for them to say this. But practically speaking, what do you do? As my friend said, perhaps you can go for a walk early in the morning and on one of your walks just be conscious of your breathing; another time observe things around you, or spend time listening to the birds, the sound of the stream, river or sea.
Sounds idyllic. Like paradise. It’s easy to find these environments when you’re on holiday at the coast or in the wild or in the bushveld but when you get back to the city then what? You hear police sirens, ambulances, motorbikes tearing up the quite of suburbs early in the morning, jet aeroplanes screaming overhead. Then what about those security alarms? Has someone been robbed in the neighbourhood or did the electric fence wires get crossed because of a bump by a tree in the rain?
Look, we all can get cynical about this stuff but what mindfulness at a practical level does is to make you aware of yourself and your surroundings and bring you into the present. It’s like getting a slap in the face. You’re stunned for a moment but it wakes you up. Mindfulness can lead to improved balance, centredness and flow.
If you think mindfulness will work for you then give it a try. Go for a walk, take a swim in the ocean or go to the gym. What broke my fragmentation for me was just talking about it with an old friend. Good friends, you know, the ones that you can count on one hand, can often feed back insights to you about yourself when you are just too blinded to see the light in front of you