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Stress & Spirituality, Part 1
Stress & Spirituality ? How Spirituality Affects Stress Levels
Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what a 'spiritual' person looks like. Whether you see them as sitting lotus-style in saffron robes or speaking emphatically from a pulpit, I'd bet one thing you won't see them as is 'stressed'. Relaxed? serene? beatific. These are all adjectives we associate with the super-spiritual. But stressed? Kind of defeats the purpose of all that spirituality, doesn't it?
I'm going to take a moment here to make the all-important distinction between religion and spirituality. Different people have different definitions of each, but for the purposes of this article, it's important to be clear about what I mean by each term. A religion is a codified set of beliefs and practices shared by adherents. Spirituality, by contrast, is about an individual's relationship with Spirit (however they might see it) and their connection with their own spiritual aspect. Please note that the two concepts can co-exist, but that religion doesn't have to be spiritual, and equally, spirituality doesn't need to be religious.
In this article, I want to focus on spirituality, rather than religion. If you do follow an organised religion, feel free to apply the information to your own spiritual path. If not, I invite you to keep in mind the difference between religion and spirituality as you read. This is because there's a great deal of evidence that a healthy spiritual belief system can both help lessen the impact some of our stressors have on us, and deal with the consequences of our stress responses. The first half of this article covers some of the suggested reasons for this, while the second (which will appear in the next issue of Optimum Stress News) explores how we can use this link to help with our stress management.
Most stressors seem bigger and more difficult to deal with if we're feeling isolated and as though we're dealing with them alone. Knowing that we belong to and can connect with a group of people who care, and who can offer solace, strength and possibly even solutions, can do much to offset that feeling. And interestingly enough, that sense of belonging doesn't necessarily have to be to a group of people. If we see the natural world as something we can interact with, or Spirit or our Higher Selves as beings with whom we can talk, then they can become part of our support just as much as actual people could.
In the thousand and one things we all have to do to keep up with the demands work, study, family, and friends; problems that would seem fairly minor if they attacked us one-by-one can seem unbearably huge. At such times, believing in something bigger than ourselves (or bigger than the day-to-day self who has to deal with all of these problems) can sometimes help to shrink our stressors back down to something approaching a manageable size.
It's a hard thing to accept when we're going through tough periods, but it's not the things that happen to us that upset us. What upsets us is the meanings we give those events. For example, if I've just failed a job interview, it's not actually failing the interview that's upset me ? it's all the things I've made it mean. Perhaps, in my mind, it means I'll never get a job, that I'm just no good at interviews, that I'll always be broke, or even that I'm a useless person in all areas of my life. Whatever it might be, unless I had my heart set on that specific job, it's unlike to just be the interview results. When this happens, a sense of spirituality can help me to look for positive meanings in seemingly negative events ? enabling me to ask what I can learn, or how I can grow stronger, instead of asking why it's always me that gets dumped on.
SPACE & STILLNESS
Something most spiritual systems emphasise is the need for time spent by ourselves in quiet and stillness. In this still space, our minds - weary of thoughts rushing around at breakneck speed ? can find rest. The time alone can be spent meditating, praying, or just listening and appreciating what is there around and within us in that given moment. The form doesn't matter ? whatever is right for you is what's right for you. It's the peace and respite we're accessing ? the simple 'time out' that makes this so helpful for stress management.
These are just four of the possible suggested ways that developing a personal spirituality can help in keeping our stress at optimum levels. In Part 2, we'll look at how we can start to develop the kind of spirituality that's true to our own individual values, and how to make use of it as a tool for managing stress. If you have any questions or comments on the first half of the article, please don't hesitate to contact me. Otherwise, until the next issue, may every day bring you closer to your optimum life.
Copyright 2005 Tanja Gardner
Optimum Life's Tanja Gardner is a Stress Management Coach and Personal Trainer whose articles on holistic health, relaxation and spirituality have appeared in various media since 1999. Optimum Life is dedicated to providing fitness and stress management services to help clients all over the world achieve their optimum lives. For more information please visit check out http://optimumlife.co.nz, or contact Tanja on email@example.com.
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If we don't behave according to a specific church's doctrine, will our guardian angels turn their backs on us? If we are struggling with our overall belief in God or we're questioning the validity of the holy books, will the angels abandon us? What if we believe in God and in the Bible, but we just feel like screwing off for awhile? Will they desert us? Do we have to be good and pure and perfect in order for angels to look after us?
Its Always Divine
So I met a friend recently and we went to see the movie Garden State, which I had been anxious to see since its release. Written and directed by a young (29-year-old) New Jersey native, I had read that it was about "coming home" to New Jersey.
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Some of us might hear from time to time that we are "Old Souls". I remember when I was told this for the first time. It sounded great, even without understanding the deep essence and meaning of it. That expression did not feel strange to me for one reason, I always felt old, even as a young child since the age of 7. I am probably touching upon many different people who share that same feeling from young age too!
The Power of One
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Connecting to Spirit
Every soul that is currently experiencing life on any level begins and ends as a whole. Our essence ? the very core of our spiritual being ? remains One with God. We always have been, and always will be, a part of 'the whole' that is the God-consciousness level.
Self-Realization How It Can be Achieved Within Ones Life Time
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Pray Without Ceasing
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 16-18, NIV
Look! Its Another New Age!
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Understanding a Tarot Card Reading
Getting the most from a Tarot card reading relies on the reader's ability to perceive not only the symbolic meaning from the spread, but also the mystical significance. Although every card of both the Major and the Minor Arcana possesses its own individual symbolism within the representative images on the cards, it is the deeper, spiritual enlightenment of the cards that leads to a greater understanding. Attaining this type of perception is the key to making Tarot a truly valid part of life.
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Spirituality: The Bottom Line
Whadda ya know?
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In our fast paced society we often want everything done quickly or your boss wants it done yesterday. In your spiritual life are you a Microwave or Crock Pot? I think often we want God to answer our prayers in Microwave fashion. I prayed a specific request today and I want it answered today. If our prayers are not answered quickly, we often wonder, "What is God doing?" We also decide to go it on our own and not wait for God's direction. Often it is difficult to wait on God's timing.
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Quick! Throw Me A Line!
I was reminiscing with a friend recently about his 'dark night of the soul' that he'd just experienced. During his pain, he turned his back on God. Raised in a traditional Catholic family he found himself very angry at God and at the church during an especially ugly divorce and custody battle. As he's coming back into himself, we've been talking and processing together through a lot of what happened and what he's been through. It took him three years to even begin to let go of the extreme rage he felt when she first left him. I had tried desperately to guide him through his hell with the help of my spiritual beliefs, but he was just too mad at God to hear any of it. His issues had nothing to do with me, but they just about ended our friendship because of his overwhelming anger at the entire world and everyone in it.
In life, sooner or later, we come to the midnight hour. The hour comes when all is black, when myriad shapes seem to haunt our paths, when the very blackness appalls and our hearts cry out in utter despair. We fear the night and we dread what the day may bring forth.
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What type of person grabs your attention and motivates you? Usually it's a person who is very passionate about what he or she is doing. She's on fire and her excitement floods the room she is in. When she talks something inside you gets stirred - the desire also to be passionate about something. Anything! You don't want to leave her presence because you hope that some of that passion will rub off on you.
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