People always talk about stress and how stress affects us. But what is stress really? What causes us stress? Taoists believe that we should allow ourselves to float with the current of the river, at least, that is the message I got from reading the back cover of a book called The The Tao of Pooh.
While that certainly might seem like a less stressful path, it makes us a victim, not a victor. It removes our responsibility for ourselves and our own wellbeing, and basically says that we are the subject to the winds of life; apt to be blown about with every wind of change that comes along.
I used to call myself God’s tumbleweed because I was learning to trust in Him, and I saw myself as tumbleweed because I wanted to be open and flexible to whatever changes He brought me. That was my intention. However, a friend advised me against such a label, because ultimately, God gave us free will and the ability to choose; and with this gift of choice comes responsibility.
God provides the guidance, but ultimately, the responsibility of my choices are mine. The problem in today’s society is that we live in a culture of people who want the right to choose, but don’t want the responsibility of their choices. Is this then, the reason why so many people are suffering from stress?
There’s a scripture that advises against “kicking against the pricks.” It is a reference against resistance. Like Seven of Nine from Star Trek might say, “Resistance is futile.” It’s a statement of the futility of resisting inevitability. It brings me back to the river (I believe it was called Pi) of the Taoist, and the concept of flowing with the river.
Thing about that is, I don’t want to be in a canoe without a paddle just randomly floating along. Flowing with the river is ok, because sometimes that is required on a journey; provided you’ve made well thought-out decisions, and you are in the right waterway. As long as you have the ability of steering, and can exercise some control in directing your path, then you can move out of a violent current and into calmer waters.
But when you make thoughtless choices, you essentially throw your own paddles out of the boat, and then later panic when you see the waterfall ahead. You are, therefore, creating your own stress. Some people are the type that waste a lot of time and energy trying to fly like salmon, leaping against the rushing current of what is the law of the land or even the natural laws and calling it freedom.
In the case of people suffering from stress, it is usually a situation of what we see currently in popular culture – the outcry of wanting freedom, without the recognition of what the consequences of the freedom they seek will be; and later remarking on their confusion as to how they got to a certain uncomfortable place in their lives.
But let’s really look at stress. What is it really? What does it result in? How does it affect our bodies? I believe that stress is a response to something that makes us uncomfortable in some way. When I checked the definition, the first noun definition was “the importance attached to a thing.”
So really, stress occurs in response to a threat against something that is important to us. As I continued to look at more definitions, I saw, “to experience stress or worry,” which confirms my thoughts. A threat and worry involve fear. Stress is a fear response. I’ve brought this up previously in some of my posts on muscle and how it gets tight and locked up.
I was speaking about this very issue to my mother on the weekend. She was a nurse for years, but my statements surprised her. You see, I now know that our bodies have many brains. They simply differ in level of importance, size, and specific function. The smallest brain of the body I am familiar with number in the millions.
They are contained in multiple systems and networks all over the body, and in the largest organ of the body, which most people take for granted and neglect. What am I talking about? These mini brains are part of every bit of the flesh of our bodies; our skin, every tissue, every muscle, every cell. Each and every cell of our bodies has a mini brain that has a memory.
Every time we have to confront something, someone, a situation or circumstance, event or change in our environment, those little brains kick in and record our responses. So every challenge and our response to it is recorded in our cells, tissue, and muscle.
Thus, over time, and of course, depending on the number and frequency of these challenges; these memory bits build up forming the tightness and tension we all experience in our muscles, deemed as the result of stress.
But how does this happen? We have a Central Intelligence system. Our brain is the lead organ for controlling all systems, functions, impulses and messages, but in every system in the body, there is a division of the brain via the nervous system, that is transmitting messages back to Central Intelligence.
When we encounter a stress situation, what we are dealing with is a situation that confronts us. In this confrontational situation, we have decisions to make. By our choices, we rise or fall. How we handle and address a situation can determine how stressful our interactions will be at that moment, and in the future.
Prov 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Prov 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
Prov 20:11 Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.
Our intentions will affect the outcome and thus, our level of stress, because the body will instinctively respond to choices that involve violations. Even when you secretly know that your intentions or actions are wrong, your body is reacting because it is confronting the idea of being caught or penalized, which results in a fear response. That fear response is then at the head of everything you do. All your actions will be driven by it, and ultimately, because it is fear and not faith that is driving you, you will make mistakes.
Furthermore, when confronted with problems; whether or not we actually use our brain to determine a viable solution that works for, or helps more than just ourselves, will also be a factor. The ability to think and reason was given for a reason…to saddle and hold the reins on the ability of choice.
Prov 24:32 I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw.
The heart in scripture often refers to the mind, because that is the battleground. You have two opposing sides to your personhood. Your spirit and body (flesh) oppose each other, which is why sometimes you may find yourself doing things you didn’t want to do.
If your spirit is not leading you, you are not in control of your body, and will succumb to anything that tempts it, or to any desire you have without thought. It’s a more animalistic nature, based more on desire and instinct.
We can barely keep the reins on our bodies. We need the head of the spiritual realm (of all realms), Jesus Christ, to help us grow our spirits out of its embryonic state, so that we can be governed by our spirit instead of our out of control flesh.
Prov 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
A person who is not using the 3 lbs between their ears, setting aside time to think and seriously contemplating their steps, path, and course or journey in life; will experience a lot of stress. The mind is the battlefield because it is the place where your choices are made, beliefs are cemented, and your path is determined. Thoughts and concepts come through your level of faith from your spirit, and in your mind, you weigh these against your desires and experiences, which come primarily from your body.
Prov 21:16 A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.
This is not just a reference to physical demise. It is a reference also to a state of being. A person who is not actively pursuing their dreams…who no longer dreams or does not have faith is spiritually dead, because they lack hope. Such a person just exists, and has no life to speak of; again, a much more animalistic experience, which is not what we were created for.
A person who is constantly involved in confrontations, again, whether with life, people, circumstance, or situations; that will be a person with high stress levels, a very tension and pain filled body, and more than likely, some form of illness or disease that is developing or fully manifested. This is especially true if the person has been holding on to anger and bitterness for years; both of which are an offset of fear that has been invigorated.
Prov 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life; Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
To Lower Your Stress
- Choose to take time to Think
- Choose to take Responsibility
- Choose to add Value to others
- Choose to make Wise decisions
- Choose to stop Resisting the Truth
- Choose to be Mindful of how you treat others
- Choose to live in Peace by picking your battles carefully
Something to think about.