One of my “aha” moments in my Qigong journey came when I learned this simple technique to turn stress into vitality.
Imagine you are stuck in traffic, you are late to pick up the kids / get to an important meeting / *insert your reason here* – what would you do? Most people tense up their bodies in an attempt to control the situation – sounds silly right? For some reason the default reaction of humans in stressful situations is to tense up – as if by some feat of magical power, the traffic will suddenly start flowing if our shoulders are super tight, we grind our teeth and clench our jaw. So why is it that some people cope really well in the same situation, they turn up the volume on their favourite tunes, stay relaxed and enjoy the moment of the traffic jam, and others turn into raging frustrated mess?
They have figured out that the only thing we have control over is ourselves, our own bodies and our own actions. We may have some limited influence over others, but in reality we can’t control other people or situations. We especially cannot control traffic jams. It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep our body tense in a futile attempt to control something that’s out of our control. Yet this is exactly what most of us do every day – building layers of tension, exhausting our energy system leaving us tired, grumpy and no better off than we were before.
So what’s the best way to change things up? The answer is a super simple technique of reminding yourself in the moment of stress, of where you do have influence and control – in yourself. That’s it. Simple right? When you become aware that stress is a natural reaction to wishing things were different, and you understand the only way you can change things around you is to focus on yourself and your reaction to the situation – it suddenly becomes clear – getting tense is a waste of time and energy.
Going with the flow, accepting things with relaxation when they don’t go exactly as you anticipated them to and understanding that you only have control over yourself is a simple, yet powerful shift in perspective.
Now, I didn’t say it was easy! Next time you find yourself tensing up in a stressful situation, simply observe your reaction with no judgement. Be kind to yourself. Take 2 -3 deep slow belly breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Observe how you feel. Often all it takes is a couple of minutes of deep belly breathing to shift your nervous system from a state of stress, fight or flight into a state of relaxation – it’s like taking your nervous system a little holiday without leaving the room (or car!). As you relax, the energy that was trapped in your tense muscles begins to flow freely, boosting your vitality, leaving you feeling vibrant and energised.
Qigong embodies the principal of relaxation and flow. Often described as a moving mediation, the flowing movements of the body allow the mind to become still, and align you with the energy of the constantly moving universe that is all around us.
If you’d like to transform your stress into vitality, join me for a lovely lunchtime Qigong session on the banks of the Avon in Christchurch, every Tuesday and Thursday 12.30 – 1pm over summer.