My Top 3 Ways to Cope with Stress

Elephant Butterfly in My Top 3 Ways to Cope with Stress
Photo by TheThreeSisters

This month has been hectic.  More than the usual hectic.

And I discovered something useful about myself (Self discovery seems to be the bright side of all things exhausting).  I got to see my top 3 ways to cope with stress.  These are the strategies I seem to reach for first, and fortunately two out of three are accessible while I’m on the go, and they’re all healthy so I thought they’re worth sharing.

1.  Silence.  My number 1 way to cope with stress is to turn everything off.  Turn off the radio in the car.  Turn off the TV at home.  Turn off sound.  The less auditory stimuli, the better.  When I’m stressed my head is already noisy enough without adding any more noise from the outside.  Quiet outside, quiet inside.  Silence helps reduce my feeling of being overwhelmed.  It simplifies and limits what’s coming at me.

2. Clean.  When I feel stressed, I clean.  Getting the space around me organized makes me feel more organized inside.  When things are clean and orderly, it’s like I’ve made the environment quieter.  Environmental silence.  Messiness is a kind of noise.  At least it is for me.  It’s too distracting.  I don’t know, maybe that’s a little OCD, but it’s selective OCD — I can happily postpone cleaning most of the time.

3. Appreciating beauty.  This one, like silence, is really portable. You can do it anywhere.  This is not the kind of appreciation that happens when you try to be grateful.  It’s just spontaneous noticing of hidden treasures, happy little distractions from whatever it is that weighs on you.  I don’t go looking for them.  It almost seems like they look for me!  They jump out at me.  Grab my attention for just the instant it takes to switch background and foreground.  For that moment, the stress fades into background, as the beauty comes forward, more vivid, more real.  And I feel better.  A smiling baby in a grocery store.  The smell of ground coffee.  (I have to confess here that I sniff bulk coffee dispensers).  A cloud that’s an unusual color.  Overhearing a kind exchange between strangers.  The perfect word in a sentence –  now that’s a thing of beauty.

Meditation: Finding Meaning

This meditation, recorded live on May 29th, 2013, is an exploration of your life meaning, a guided invitation to dialogue with your inner teacher, your expanded Self.

Special thanks to Gary and JoAnn Chambers for giving permission for use of their Visionary Music in this meditation.  This song is from their Abundance Series: Sanctuary.

To download the mp3 file of this Meditation, right click the “meditation” link above, and choose “Save Link As”.  It will download the file to your computer or mobile device.

A Meditation

This Meditation May 15 2013 was recorded during Live streaming on May 15, 2013.

Charles likes to do meditation to take us beyond logic, beyond all the noise in our heads.  Into a quiet peaceful place within ourselves.  Close your eyes.  Relax.  Travel along with Charles as your guide.  Special thanks to Gary and JoAnn Chambers for giving permission for use of their Visionary Music in this meditation.

Breathing Life

Rose in Breathing Life
Rose by Andrea_44

What was said to the rose that made it open was said to me
here in my chest.


Had a wonderful, intense, delicious Retreat last weekend!  One of the experiences that is very powerful and healing for people is the breathwork. So I thought it might be helpful to give you a little background.

There are many forms of breathwork: integrative breathwork by Jacquelyn Small, rebirthing-breathwork by Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray, holotropic breathwork by Dr Stanislav Grof, vivation by Jim Leonard and Phil Laut.

They each have many features in common, and share similarities to yogic practices such as pranayama.

When Charles and I were first experienced breathwork, introduced to it by a couple who had studied with Leonard Orr, the instructions we received were simple: Pull on the inhale, relax on the exhale, and connect every breath. They also told us to do the process until we were complete and “you’ll know when you’re complete.” Simple enough, right? I mean, we all breathe.

But after a single breathwork experience we knew that how we breathe has an extraordinary impact on our consciousness. We experience this in Kai Chi Do too – The movements and the music are great, but the combination of the breath and the movements brings you into a new, broader state of awareness.

Breathing is literally the way we interact with the world.  When we pull on the inhale, we’re pulling in Life.  When we exhale, we’re releasing the parts we don’t need.  We don’t need to force them away.  We just let them go.  We give and we receive.  Out and in, in and out.  Breathing is an energy exchange.

Some breathwork leaders believe in what’s called cellular memory – the idea that memory isn’t just stored in your brain, it’s stored in the entire body.  Cellular memories  include suppressed emotions held in our bodies, like armor.  The emotions we suppress tend to he the ones that cause us pain, so we walk around with our emotional pain in our bodies, a part of our identity.  We think they’re who we are.  But they’re just emotions, just memories of the past.  We don’t need to hold onto them.  We’ve just locked them up.  One way to let go of the pain of the past, held in our bodies, is through relaxed, connected breaths.  We let Life in with the breath.

When the emotions surface, you just keep breathing, and your body has the wisdom to just let them go.  Your body knows – if you just trust it and don’t let your thinking get in the way of your air.  That’s one of the things I love about breathwork – My nose does all the work and my job is just to get out of the way.

Of course you can’t control it.  You don’t get to choose what you want to breathe about.  As they taught Shanti in kindergarten, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  Sometimes breathwork brings up memories.  Sometimes it brings up feelings.  And sometimes it just brings a bright, spacious awareness.  We take what we get, and we trust that it’s what we need.  We sit as the witness to our own experience and keep breathing.  Until the breath brings us into a feeling of completion, a feeling of relief and resolution.  In my very first breathwork session, I forgave my mother.  And I didn’t even know I needed to.

What’s left when you let all the stuff go?  All the stuff that’s not in harmony with Life.  What’s left when you let all that go?

There’s a point, a delicious point in breathwork, when you’re not trying to do the breathing anymore –  It’s the point where you finally let Life breathe you.

Stressing Time Management

“The only reason for time, is so
that everything doesn’t
happen at once.”

— Albert Einstein

I learned this lesson from a friend several years ago.

She had two homes, one is Europe and one in the U.S.  When she was in Europe, she was sad and frustrated because she missed her home and family in the U.S. And when she was in the U.S., she was frustrated and sad because she missed her home and family in Europe.  (I mean, we should all have these problems, right?)

She really wanted to live in both places.  She didn’t want to give up  either one.  And even though she split her time between continents, it was unsatisfying.  In fact, she was miserable.  We talked about it often, nearly every time we spoke.  And finally I blurted out, “The only way you can resolve this is to be where you are.”

Try this: do one thing at at time, focus on what you’re doing and think about that instead of something else you’d rather be doing.