Updated: May 6, 2021
Being at ease is central to maintaining and improving health. How much time during your day are you truly "at ease"? What are you doing during that time? At what time of day are you most frequently at ease? What conditions need to be met in order for you to truly relax and let go? The answers to these questions can tell you something about your stressors and your stress relievers.
One way to relieve and prevent stress is to recognize that for the most part, it is not the event or situation itself that causes our distress. Our discomfort is impacted by a number of factors, including:
The length of time it takes us to allow the memory of a stressful past event to stop replaying in our minds
The story we tell ourselves about that event, its cause, and its possible recurrence
Our response to a situation that arouses negative emotions. For example:
Worry is made easier if we take the action that we can to address the concern and having taken action, let go of the outcome. Worry is either a reminder to take appropriate action or an attempt to control a situation we can't control with our mind.
Anger disrupts our body systems and can cause significant damage over time. If we have it, it's better to acknowledge and name it; but if in the process we hurt someone else we will frequently stay angry or regret our actions. For the most part we are better off if we can avoid getting angry or let go of anger by changing our perceptions. There are three truths I tell myself frequently in order to avoid getting angry. 1. People are doing their best to live their life, given the circumstances of their past. When they act in an hurtful way toward me, it's much more about them dealing with themselves and their past than it is about me. 2. I don't know why things happen as they do, and I don't know the many possible outcomes of any given event. What seems bad now may cause me to learn something or help something good to happen in the future. 3. All is One. Usually people think of this statement in a warm fuzzy way, but if this is really true then we are all on some level responsible for everything that happens, including events that distress us and the actions of people that we dislike. Hopefully we can all learn to be more gentle with ourselves.
Sadness is an unwillingness to let go and allow inevitable change to happen. Physically it feels like we are slowing or changing our movement, most notably our breathing, in a futile attempt to hang onto the past or make change stop. When I think of sadness as a reminder of how deeply I have loved, it feels a little better somehow. Eventually we will have to let go of everything and everyone that we love, but we are continually being offered someone or something new to love. The ability to gracefully let go of the past and grasp onto the future takes lots of practice.
If with tranquil perception one speaks or acts, ease follows as a shadow that never departs. It's not what we're doing or what is happening to us that creates ease. Ease has much more to do with how we arrange ourselves on the inside than our attempts to arrange or control the world on the outside.