I read a book last week that discussed the increased pace of modern
life, how the resultant stress was leading to health and anxiety
issues for so many people, and how too many were turning to
medications and other unconstructive methods (such as excessive
drinking) to cope.
Sounds pretty typical, doesn’t it? I mean, these days you can’t
open a magazine, read a newspaper, or pass a row of books in the
bookstore without encountering articles and books on stress, coping
with stress, stress management…..as well as anxiety, nervousness,
insomnia, and so forth.
Funny thing is, the book I was reading was written in the 1950s!
And I have also read books published in the early 1900s which
discuss the same issues.
We always assume – at least here in the United States – that the
1950s were an oasis of prosperity, order and calm, and most
families were truly living the American dream. Relative, of course,
to the horrible war that had engulfed the world in the 1930s and
1940s. Relative also to the upheaval and disintegration of social
norms and beliefs that followed in the 1960s.
Yet even within that oasis of slower, simpler times, people felt
rushed, stressed out, unable to keep up with the changes, unable to
Interesting, isn’t it?
If we could go back in a time machine and visit with a typical family
in the 1950s, we’d probably think them wimps for feeling stressed out
during what we presume to be a simpler, slower time. (I’m speaking
here of typical white America, by the way. Life for black families
in the Jim Crow South was something else altogether.)
But here’s another way to look at this: Are things going to be
even faster, harder, more stressful in our future? One day, will
some writer sitting at her laptop look back and, having read
my stuff about transforming stress, think “Jeez, those people
in the early 2000s had it so easy. Life was slower then. Why
did they suffer so much from stress and stress-related disorders?”
Is life really faster, harder, less forgiving and more stress-
inducing today than before? Or are our expectations so much
higher in terms of what we must or should accomplish, how we
should live, how well our careers should go, how fulfilled and
accomplished our children should be, and so on?
Not sure I know the answer to that. But I think it’s clear
that each age, each generation encounters and has to deal with
many of the same types of issues.
Technology has been, and will continue to be, a huge enabler in
nearly every facet of our personal and business lives. But isn’t
it also one of the main perpetrators of our “always on, always
accessible, therefore always on the spot for something” mentality?
Can you ever truly slow down, relax, and experience life in the
here and now when you’re glued to your smartphone, laptop or
high def TV?
Not likely, methinks.
The good news is, you have the power every day to make choices
that can help free you from the bonds of constant electronica
Indeed, you have the wisdom and power inside you – right now,
today – to make significant, transformative changes in how
you deal with and handle the stresses and strains of modern
Which brings me to my main point of this message to you.
Learning how to calm, slow and deepen your breathing can help
you overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger which may
impede your ability to solve problems or overcome the typical
stresses of modern life.
In my last message, I taught you the basics of box breathing.
Inhale, hold, exhale, hold to a particular count – this simple
and deceptively powerful practice can be quite an enjoyable way
One of the things I like about timing your breathing to a
count is that it helps you regain mental control, reduce all
that monkey chatter, and focus and concentrate better. You’ll
feel more in control and experience quite a mental and physical
Now, here’s the next level up, so to speak, in your breathing
practice: using your imagination.
Coupling breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be even more powerful, serving as the foundation
for incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.
I’ll have more to say and share about that in my next message.
You Can Do It!
“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014