Courses

Light Pathways - Introduction - 3 Part Mini Course

 

Part 1 - THE BODY: Stress Awareness and Reduction

 

We all, typically, at some point in our lives, have stress.  Often we don’t see the stress we only see the results, our response, to the stress:

-difficulty sleeping

-eating carbs and sugars

-shopping

-alcohol and drug use

-smoking

-looping thoughts

-emotional ups and downs

-bodyweight that is difficult to release

 

Stress accumulates daily.  To work with our stress and release the built-up tension in our bodies, it must first be detected - only then can we bring awareness to our (perhaps unconscious) coping mechanisms.  In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe studied stress and it's correlating effects on the body.  They identified types of life changes and the corresponding "weight" of each event.  For example the death of a spouse highest on the list (most stressful) when compared to minor violations with the law (less stressful). 

 

Here are some categories of stressful life changes Holmes and Rahe discovered:

 

Relationships:  death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, marriage, arguments with a spouse, pregnancy, son/daughter leaving home, trouble with a boss, etc.

Financial: loss of a job, business readjustment, change in financial state, a large loan/mortgage, change in job responsibilities, etc.

Environment: change in school, house, church, social activities, etc.

 

Perhaps you, a friend or family member are going through one or more of these life changes.  It’s important to note what is listed here are not the only things that cause stress, these are just among the most common.  Once we become aware of the range of life issues that Holmes and Rahe found to be the most common stressors we can begin to make informed choices for our own self care.

 

Step 1:  this week cultivate curiosity by just wondering what, if anything, is creating tension or stress in your life.  Bring your kind, gentle loving attention to your life and approach this exercise with as much non-judgment as possible.  When we view our life from the observer point of view, non-judgementally, we become aware of patterns - it’s only through this new awareness that we can know our habitual response and choose the most loving , nurturing activity to allieviate our stress.    

 

Step 2: refrain from doing anything, no need to fix or take action.  Right now, just notice, without judgment, the stress in your life and any patterns of response like:   eating, shopping, escaping (entertainment, drugs, social media, isolation) you might do as a reaction to the stress in your life.

 

Step 3: are there any patterns of self-soothing you can identify, positive (taking a hot bath) or negative (alcohol) that you use to either release stress and/or avoid difficult emotions.

 

Allow yourself to meet your life overview with kind, gentle, loving attention, without judgment.  It’s important not to force an answer or investigate too much.  The answer(s) will come, sometimes in the moment and sometimes at other points in the day or week.

 

At any point in the week or at the end of the week reflect and record your insights here:

 

 

Part 2:  THE MIND: Strength in Knowing

 

Your mind is very powerful and unique among the sentient beings on this planet. One of the principle ways our minds are different is that we can imagine and create.  

 

Step 1: explore your interests, past and present.  Each and everyone one of us has a beautifully individual set of interests.  From the time we are born we are drawn to different colors, styles, topics, people, places and objects.  You may be interested in history, astronomy and line dancing whereas another might be interested in microbes, trees and aviation.  Why are we drawn to certain things?  What is it about those things that grab our attention?  Continue to explore, with an open, kind and non-judgemental attention, what are your interests, what were they in the past?  Is there a thread that connects them?

 

Step 2: become aware of the part of us that gravitates toward one thing over another, this is the part of us that can observe ourselves, the thinker of the thoughts. 

 

Step 3: bring kind, gentle, non-judgemental, attention to the words you use.  Our speech and our thoughts are made of words.  Words have energy and they encourage or oppress, they add love or create hurt.  No doubt.  Our thoughts become real sensations when practiced over it is no wonder that our beliefs create anxiety or the opposite - encouragement fostering real, long-lasting change.  My sister works in the public school system and is the all-day buddy to a child who struggles with autism.  She told me that their world dramatically shifted when she stopped telling him “no” and “don’t do that” to… “please come over here, I know you are fully capable of sitting down right now.”  The energy of please/thank you and "fully capable" are VASTLY different from "no" and "don't".  As a result of this change, her little buddy listens more, completes more tasks and acts out less.  

 

Without any need to change, fix or take action this week, allow yourself to be curious and to lightly bring your attention to your interests and the words you use.

At any point in the week or at the end of the week reflect and record your insights here:

 

Part 3:  THE SPIRIT: Bringing in Joy

 

I often wonder if some of our stress is actually low-grade anger/frustration at ourselves for not being who/how we came to here be. The insights from this week bring awareness around the small still voice that wants to be heard and acted upon.  If you have ever had the thought, “Oh, I would really like to do that!” or “That would be amazing!” follow your inner wisdom, reach outside of your norm, this is your spirit waking up. Your ability to listen and act upon that small still voice is key to unlocking your joy.

 

Your spirit knows no boundaries and has a capacity for love that is infinite.  The way to work with your spirit is through play.

 

Step 1: this week, ask yourself, “How do I want to play today?”  Find a way to follow through on the answers, even if it is only 5 minutes of playful engagement with whatever comes to mind.  This begins to awaken the spirit and reinforces that you are listening and will take action (leading to more insights and fun things to do!).

 

Step 2: begin to release or reduce your old habits (if negative) of processing stress.  Be kind, gentle and loving to yourself through this process, it might take time.  Here is a list of potential new ways of releasing stress (as you read, listen with your body and your feelings to see what resonates and/or what sparks an idea that would be just right for you):

-hot bath

-playing an instrument for fun/ singing

-walking in nature/being out in the fresh air/hugging a tree

-meditation/silent prayer

-aerobic exercise to release the stress in the muscles

-massage - you can massage your feet/hands or get a professional one

-deep breathing exercises (belly breathing)

-other

 

Step 3:  focus your attention on your connections to the greater Spirit. Without judgment, begin to wonder what does a connection to a greater Spirit look/sound/feel like?  Where are the signs of beauty and grace?  Look for what is new and different.  Some of the shifts will be subtle and some may be more apparent. By looking for Grace in your life it will show up more and more.

 

At any point in the week or at the end of the week reflect and record your insights here: