“Do not learn how to react, learn how to respond.” – Buddha
We have all heard of work related stress, but it’s hard to admit you are stressed and overwhelmed when you don’t know how to recognize stress.
Have you ever been so busy and overworked that you had no idea you were stressed?
When I was a full time teacher, this happened to me.
I remember going to the doctor because I had developed severe eczema and the first thing the doctor asked me was “are you stressed?’ I answered “No”. I was prescribed medicine and the eczema was cleared.
Years later I developed a chronic abdominal pain and was ambulanced to the emergency room. After the pain subsided I was asked again by the doctors “are you stressed?” “No” I said again. This time I questioned my answer. This time my stomach disorder made sure I was getting the message to stop and listen. It took chronic pain before I was going to stop and check in with myself.
I asked myself:
Was I stressed?
What does stress feel like?
I really had no idea.
When I typed in Chronic Abdominal Pain on Google Search, the word that jumped out at me were “Stress” all my other symptoms were there as well: grinding teeth, easily irritable, headaches, migraines, emotional eating and insomnia.
I couldn’t believe it, I was stressed and I didn’t even realize it! Stress was not a topic I studied about in school, nor at University. I had never had a class or an elective on the signs and symptoms of stress. I didn’t know what it looked like or felt like.
So there I was, bed ridden in pain and with no doctor or surgeon able to pin point exactly what was wrong with me. For the first time I was conscious of stress and how it can manifest in the body. It was at this time that I made a decision to discover for myself if I was really suffering from stress.
I went inside myself first for answers to gain a deeper understanding of my life and my health. I turned to journal writing and just let the pen flow. I wrote down a lot of the things that I wanted in my life that I didn’t have and that made me angry, frustrated and resentful.
I remembered how I used to meditate (before I got so busy) and decided to try it again. I sat down in meditation with these feelings of anger and resentment trying to breathe through them. And then the voice of my meditation teacher came flooding in “don’t judge your negative feelings, just feel them. Let them pass through as if you are watching them, unattached”.
I broke down crying releasing all my feelings of how lost I had been in all my busyness as a teacher trying to get everything done. I cried about all the kindness my body had been giving me through signs and symptoms, for all the ailments I couldn’t hear because I was lost in my work stress and workload.
Some may say “ignorance is bliss”, but if you are destined to be awake and aware in this lifetime (like I’m sure the people reading this blog are), then there is no bliss in ignorance. Our consciousness is too awake to live in ignorance.
I started to manifest the support I needed: specialists, naturopaths, mentors, life coaches, daily mediation and journaling. With the awareness and knowledge came solutions and more support to help heal my body and mind.
I saw that I was more conscious of my actions and thoughts and that I was choosing to give myself more compassion. As much compassion as if I was a child in healing. I never felt this vulnerable before.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Sometimes in my journaling and meditation I felt more anger, jealousy, self-pity and resentment. Each time I got a little better at connecting with my meditation teacher (who has passed over a decade ago). I remember hearing: “There is no good and bad, right and wrong”. “The truth is clear, crystal clear and the flipside lies in your judgment – you choose what you want to manifest in your life.”
It was hard to love my negative emotions and the only way I got through it while I was still healing was to imagine my emotion, for example anger, as if it was a child in pain. Would I judge a child in pain?
So instead of feeling powerless I decided to understand my pain and sickness caused by stress and move through it in any way I could. I learned to:
- become aware of all my emotions good and bad (but especially the ones that triggered me). They were trying to tell me something. I learned to listen to the message, to receive the awareness without judgment and then let them go.
- not judge my emotions. There is no right and wrong way to feel. Just to feel it and try to move through. The answer I needed will manifest itself when I am ready to listen for it.
- make choices and decisions from my clarity and awareness. What I desire, desires me and what I think and feel will always manifest.
I am happy to say that my stomach is fine now, and I am so grateful for all the lessons and awareness I have received. These days, there are so many beautiful practices that I gift myself everyday to keep me in awareness and to keep me connected with my truth, my teacher and my feelings.
I am delighted to share that there are so many lessons to learn to keep us moving forward into the happiness of the life that we truly deeply wish for and desire. I wish you happiness, health and an abundance of wisdom.
What is your stress trying to reveal to you?
Photo by Firesam!