Loneliness is NOT an Illusion

We are the MOST “connected” society AND we are the MOST Lonely society! Yes, we celebrate the “illusion” that we do not feel our loneliness because we have apparatus which pretends to keep us “in touch” with “friends.” Many of us are addicted, YES addicted, to our smart phones and tablets with the expectation that our FB posts, or our Tweets, or texting, or our Instagram offerings are showing the WORLD, our world, that we are fully participating and really proud and joyful about our lives even if it looks like our breakfast or our cute pet postings. Yet, loneliness exists. You can see loneliness in the desperate behaviors which surround us.

Example. I came at 8:15 AM to stand in line at REI (Recreational Equipment Inc) for the semi annual “Garage sale.” The store opened at 9:00 AM and I was 40 or 50 in line with 45 minutes to opening. These are hardcore outdoor enthusiasts trying to get a good deal so they can go backpacking, camping, hiking, cycling, kayaking, or whatever. ALL 40 or 50 of these line standers was ON THEIR SMART PHONES! So, I asked the people with me in the lengthening line, “was it mandatory to be on my smart phone as I a waited the store opening?” Pretty much YES. So I pulled out my smart phone so I would not look stupid or upset the others in line, I say sarcastically. I did manage to engage the people around me in conversation and we were clearly old friends by the time we pushed into the store. Because we chatted, I could talk with them to find out if they had found the specific gear that they had arrived so early to acquire. THIS IS NOT UNIQUE. Look around at the line in the expresso place or bus stop or market, or bank or ….

Many of us have lost touch with our ability to have deeper conversations and emotional interactions with real, live, responding, human friends or family. Yes, I have seen, and so have you, people sitting in the same room, even across the table from each other, and TEXTING the person in the room. What is that about? That is about addiction to technology and false idols of communication. The illusion that some how we are not suffering from addiction and loneliness. Two dimensional text messages are NOT a substitute for a hug or looking into the eyes of someone who needs support or encouragement. It does not include gestures, body language, or tone of voice. Texting is NOT the way wisdom and experience can be shared in any meaningful way. Yes, superficial sharing is SAFE and easy and quick but it is NOT a deeply felt human interaction. The kind of interaction that truly supports us.

There have been studies of children raised in Eastern European orphanages where babies and young children were left for hours without human contact and touching. Many of these children grew up with severe mental, emotional, and even physical disabilities. My point is that people need human interaction and nurturing AND technology has NOT found the way to reach out and really touch you like face to face interactions are supposed to offer. AND, if you do not see this effect upon our human culture just look around. People can not speak with clarity or depth about important relationship issues. We seem to require very graphic, adrenaline producing movies, TV, or gaming to get into our very limited attention spans. Teachers are fighting for their classrooms attention and must adjust to the lowest common denominator of the lowest attention span in the room.

People FEEL LONELY. We are NOT connected. We do not honor the wisdom and experience which is shut away in our retirement “homes,” senior housing, and “full care nursing facilities kept separate from our Youth Oriented culture. WE are lonely both Older folks and younger people. There is even discussion regarding a new psychological/emotional symptom in our psychological codes referred to as “Loneliness Syndrome.”

Fear is driving the technology addiction. We do not want to feel left out of this mass behavior. We do not want to be odd or “unpopular.” We do not want to stand up and actually speak because that attracts a spot light of attention and that can feel threatening. “someone may make “fun” of me.” It is easier to be “anonymous” in a snarky text or FB comment. Advertising insists that for our “young” lives to be successful, we must add the latest technology or “app.” We have not evolved so far in the past 35 years of the “Information Age” that the tribal behavior of sharing stories, and maybe wisdom, around the campfire, as we have done for thousands of years, is now SO obsolete and primitive that it does not work any more. Technology has changed the way we live but the need of looking into someone’s eyes as they share their story has not!

Let’s try some silliness and humor.
A dead guy is in line to see St Peter at the “Pearly Gates.” He has his cellphone with him. He walks up to the Gate Keeper and says “Can I take this with me? I am waiting for a Text. BTW (By the way) Pete, what is the WiFi password for heaven?” Or, “Is there a GPS for the “Higher Realms”???”

Though we find ourselves worshipping our: individualism, independence, separation, this can lead to emotional isolation and emotional/spiritual loneliness. Our souls are connected and yet we do not have time to remember this because our technology keeps interrupting our meditation. Yes, we are all connected but the internet still has a ways to evolve before it grasps the deepest levels of sharing, listening, and witnessing the wisdom we can find in each other.

Take a risk! Look a friend or a stranger in the eye and with sincerity ask them who they are. Thank them for being the soul which you have bumped into in the warm dryer called life! We are all in this together, whether you know this or not.

If you want to have this conversation with people who have committed to supporting other people AND their stories, consider our Masters of the Journey Community. You are a blessing and the experiences you have had in this life should be shared (for you and for the witnesses.)

Sharing Wisdom and an Act of Service

In our spiritual community, Masters of the Journey, we practice a “Triad” process. This is a small group sharing of experience and the wisdom gleaned from living through the challenges of life. The purpose of the Triad is to gather three people into a conversation based around the “story” of one participant known as the “storyteller.” We are all “Masters” and have wisdom to share. If you have lived your life and survived to this age, you have learned from experiences and are moving along your “path” on your pilgrimage through this life.

As an example, the “storyteller” may share a story regarding a treasured experience with a personal mentor. It may have been a special college professor or a wise uncle/aunt or supportive coach who offered you some life changing information that set you on an important direction at one of the cross roads of your life. The lesson was a personal one yet it holds wisdom that can be used by other fellow travelers. The willingness of the “storyteller” to share and the active listening by the two other members of the Triad can make this a moment of “service” for all involved.

In the Triad process, the “storyteller” offers an experience which is heard by a focused “witness.” The second member of the Triad quietly and with focused intent, listens to the story. Using strong listening skills including good eye contact and “open” body language seeks to fully experience the story. Little or no verbal feedback is offered unless a clarifying question is required. The “witness” offers appreciation at the end of the 3-5 minute story. It may be appropriate to communicate what the value of this story has been for the witness. (A key is for the “Witness” to not interrupt or offer their own story but to allow the speaker to share their perspective until offered feedback at he completion of their story.)

The third member of the Triad is the “Observer” who focuses on watching both the “Storyteller” and the “Witness.” The “Observer” feels for the connection and rapport between the “Storyteller” and the “Witness.” When the “Observer” offers feedback, she/he may share information regarding the skills of the “Storyteller” to communicate their story and also may give feedback regarding the skills of the “Witness” to fully serve by observing the story. These are skills that carry over into relationships in life beyond the “Triad” process.

The act of witnessing is a powerful act of service. Focused listening and demonstrated “caring” can be therapeutic for the storyteller. In my training as a counselor for children, the theory of psychotherapeutic counseling was often less important that the act of “connecting” with the child. When these children were fully heard, respected, and Loved (Cared about) by the counselor the positive bond was created and the therapy could be effective. Outside of counseling, each of us can be of service by developing our skills to listen more fully, connect with the speaker, and then to share the wisdom of the experience of this sharing. The simple but powerful act of sharing a story and having it fully appreciated by the witness creates moments of learning for both sides of this experience. If you believe that we are actually “one” with all other living beings, then the respect and appreciation for another person’s story is a deep respect for yourself and the Divine Spirit within you (and every other soul.)

Do not take it lightly. Your witnessing of the lesson learned raises the consciousness of all the souls which are participating. Raising consciousness in all is the purpose which we all share. This common bond brings us closer and we can find the connections which offer positive learnings. Treat others with the respect of knowing that they are part of a much larger consciousness and though it may be difficult to see, every person has God within them. We may benefit from the raising of consciousness so we may better “remember” that we are all one and that each one of us is a Master with the wisdom of the Divine Spirit within our souls.

Blessings to you and all the fellow pilgrims you, and serve, along your path.

Namaste.

Masters of the Journey’s website and connections are found at: www.mastersofthejourney.com

Why we are more Overwhelmed Now! Stress

Why we are more stressed now. Do not be a victim to advances in technology.

Written by L. John Mason, Ph.D., Author of the Bestseller; Guide to Stress Reduction

Overwhelmed???

Why we are more stressed now than ever before!

Quality of life has suffered. Health has been affected. The rate of change has accelerated. Productivity can be jeopardized. We are “running” faster than ever and do not feel like we can ever catch up! Personal and professional support is draining away.

We are “stuck” with a “primitive” response mechanism which may never evolve fast enough to keep pace with technology. This ancient survival mechanism is built into our genetic code and has its origin billions of years ago. We still need this response on occasion, but day to day, it may be a major thorn in our side. It has been known since the 1930’s as Walter Cannon described it, the “Flight/Fight” response. This automatic reaction to fight or to flee to save our life is stilled needed, however, the normal daily reactions to less than life threatening situations, can trigger a part of this reaction in a habitual way which is slightly different for each of us.

The problem arises when we ignore the response until our systems have to over-react to get our attention. A major display by this mechanism can look like: tension headaches, tight neck and shoulders, sleeping problems, back pain, high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, stroke, heart disease, asthma attacks, panic/anxiety attacks, stomach problems, sexual dysfunction, certain skin irritations, hyper sensitivity, learning problems, memory problems, communication problems, poor decision making, emotional swings, resistance to change, lower productivity, and increased likelihood of worker’s compensation claims due to stress or on the job accidents and injury. Any of these symptoms can affect an individual employee, a team, a department, or the whole company’s bottom line. 70-90% of visits to medical doctor’s offices are for symptoms that are either caused or made worse as a reaction to this primitive stress response.

Symptoms of stress cost companies Billions of dollars annually in lost time, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation claims, replacement of key personnel, even lawsuits, and internal sabotage from overwhelmed employees. Prevention not only can enhance quality of life, it will also raise productivity, reduce sabotage, and assist retention strategies.

To make a point that we are more stressed today than ever before, consider the ever increasing rate of change based on new information. The “Information Age” was coined in the 1980’s. It has created a revolution of new information technologies. To see this point more clearly, think back to common societal changes since the mid to late 1980’s. Did you have cable TV in 1985? How many channels did you get from your cable provider? How many channels of TV do you have today, with cable or satellite dish? Probably 15+ channels in 1985 to now as many as 500 choices. In the mid-1980’s did you have a fax machine? A “pager”? A personal computer? E-mail? A Cellular telephone? You have probably experienced all of these since then. If you still do not have a “Cell phone,” you are not immune from the increased numbers of them… Just go to a movie, a restaurant, church, a meeting…. everywhere you go people are using the new technologies and probably stressing you out. A big one to consider that did not exist in the 1980’s is related to “cell phone” use while driving. Do you call when driving? Do other people behave unsafely when they are distracted by calls while driving?

Do you remember the early 1990’s? You could get new computer with software and not have to upgrade for 2-3 years. Now, if you get a new computer, it is outdated before you get it home and out of the box. Software upgrades seem to happen by the minute… Have you noticed that there are more coffee and espresso stands in the last 10 years? Is this how people cope with the increase in the pace of change and new information? Are there more cases of people going “postal” or “car rage”, or “air rage,” or whatever new anxiety we experience.

A final question, since 1985 has your genetic code “upgraded” to keep up with the pace of the Information Age? It takes thousands of years to biologically evolve! Psychologically and emotionally we must learn coping strategies to ensure our healthy survival. That is why now, more than ever before in human history, we must invest time and resources in preventing the adverse effects of our own stress response. Though it does take time and energy, prevention is worth the price. We can actually save time and get more done, by eliminating the internal distractions of stress. Also, we need to mentor, as positive role models, our children in these coping strategies that they will require to survive the ever-increasing presence of stress in our society.

There are models of companies using various prevention strategies and finding a return on investment. I know of one study with the company Coors Brewing Company of Golden, Colorado where human resources reported a $5 return on every $1 invested in health and wellness programs. The positive return was based on reduced sick time, fewer accidents, increased morale and productivity. The more subtle cost savings due to prevention of sabotage (and resistance to change) from overwhelmed, disgruntled employees is very difficult to measure, but still a significant factor in many organizations. Often, improved communication, allowing for input from all levels of the workforce, can be a valuable stress management and prevention strategy that leadership is learning.

In house trainers, coaching and mentoring can create a tailored program that will best fit your organization. Outside consultants, coaches, and trainers can assist your organization to build the most effective programs, if your in house staff does not have the necessary training or experience. Consider the cost benefits of reduced: sabotage, health claims, accidents, sick time, turnover, and loss of productivity due lack of focus. Proactive retention strategies, which have used employee surveys, include stress management as a highly requested benefit (always in the top three requested programs.)

If you feel that you might benefit from an individualized stress management program to minimize your overwhelm and stress, consider the Stress Education Center’s audios which include a basic stress management series or specific stress management programs for: sleeping, pain management, anxiety control, and even pre-natal stress management. Check these out at www.dstress.com or http://dstress.com/products/specific-health-topics/.

The Art of Being Present

What is the advantage in being Present? How do you achieve the state of Presence? In moving along your path in life, when should you strive for “being fully in the Moment?”

Have you ever had the telephone conversation or the face to face meeting with another person who was clearly “somewhere else” and not tracking your communication? In our busy world, this happens all the time. You have to repeat yourself or you feel insecure that you were not fully heard or understood. You have to question your communication partner to “check in” and to know that they were not so distracted that they did not receive your important communication. People clearly have a great deal on their mind and they are being torn away by the invasion of of text messages or other manifestations of interrupting technology. We are so “plugged in” that it is difficult to invest fully in the conversation with the person in front of you or on the other end of the telephone. A client may not feel fully connected with you if you are lost in another thought and this may cause a transaction to go poorly. Your friend or family member may get frustrated with your lack of focus and may lash out at you in frustration. These situations happen all to frequently. Many people do not have the awareness, and then the control, to be able to quiet the distractions and really focus on the present moment and this is sad.

Missing the moment that will never come again is a loss that you can not ever recover!  There are times when you can multi-task but human interaction is very important and should not be short changed by your distracted and disrespectful pursuit of multiple thoughts or activities. Remember when this happened to you and how you felt this lack of respect and consideration! If for no other reason, you will miss out on the most joyful and satisfying moments in life if you are not present!

Achieving the state of “Presence” requires that you reduce internal and, if possible, external distractions. Begin by NOT thinking of your answer or response before your communication partner finishes their statement. Listen! Listen with ALL of your senses. If you require clarification, ask supportive “open ended questions.” Make eye contact. It is rude to not focus your vision upon the person who is speaking. If possible, feel the emotion of what is being said. Use your intuition to read “between the lines.” There are many times when you may need to clear your mind and relax your body to reduce internal distractions and this may benefit from learning how to meditate and to find yourself in the present moment. If you can be present, you will be happier and healthier. Your relationships can improve. You can find interpersonal success more easily.

Being fully present can become more a positive habit if you practice and learn more about what is distracting to you, AND, learn to let this go. Remember, that the respect you show in listening and interacting can be beneficial for personal learning and will improve your relationships. It will even SAVE YOU TIME in the long run. Try it and see for yourself.

If you manage other people or want positive outcomes with your family, learning to be fully present is a mandatory skill and life enhancing experience.

Blessings to you on your path and watch most carefully each foot step on your journey toward consciousness.

More information and support can be found at: www.mastersofthejourney.com and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney

Key to Communication: Really Listening!

Successful communication in interpersonal relationships can be very important in business and in one’s personal life. This is not difficult to realize as a concept but it can be difficult to achieve. There are many variables that help a communication or make communication go terribly wrong. Some of these variables you can control and some you can not. An example, you may be very focus and clear regarding an important topic of conversation you may have with a client but you can not control the client’s focus or state of mind. They may be busy on “other” things and can not “engage” or focus on what you are saying.

So let’s discuss some of the variables that you can understand and control. Two of the most important ones in interpersonal communication are Timing and Listening. There are many other variables which we will discuss in other articles but let’s start with these two variables.

Timing is key in every aspect of relationships. If one side is distracted or unavailable, it is not fortuitous for the success of a communication. Scheduling the time and getting an agreement regarding this appointment are essential when your communication is critical. If you can not create an environment that is relatively undistracted and conducive to an appropriate exchange then your important message may be missed. Find the best time and space for you to communicate. At the beginning of the conversation, it may be best to ask again if this is a “good time” to talk, knowing that just because your partner has shown up at the appointment it does not mean that they are ready and undistracted. So, checkin. Make sure the table is clear and they are ready to participate. If not, and your communication is of critical value, you may have to reschedule or risk the failure of the process.

Perhaps even more importantly, is the skill to listen! It is easier said than done, but an essential key to great communication is not speaking but listening to your partner. If you interrupt, or think ahead, or find an emotional tangent to distract you, or simply lose your focus, your partner will sense your lack of “presence” and be distracted in a way which may make the meeting destined to failure. Use all of your senses to focus and to listen to what your communication partner is saying. Make eye contact. Relax your breathing to encourage your partner to relax. Respect your partners words and their opinion even if you may disagree. Do not interrupt! Keep your mouth closed until you can assist your partner by asking and “open ended question” to help clarify what they are communicating. Restate what you have heard to make sure you are very clear about what they are attempting to convey to you. Only after restatement and permission to response, is it a good time to find your appropriate answer. Show some gratitude to your partner. As a reminder, shouting someone else down does show intelligence, maturity or respect for a positive outcome.

Hint, for the best possible communication: Listen to your communication partner as if you respected this relationship so much it would be as if you were listening to the most honored elder or even, as if you were sitting in the presence of God. (Some people believe that you can find the perfect spirit of the divine in everyone, if you look for it.)

It has been said that we were given two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much. This is critical in personal relationships, friendships, family, and in business. Timing and listening. You are going to be more successful if you remember these keys to better communication.

We will have more to share regarding communication. This is a start. Please respond and try these two concepts in your next “important” communication.

Coaching and training are available at the Stress Education Center, www.dstress.com.

Future Focus Achieving Your Dreams

It is important to stay in the “present” so physical and emotional responses do not cause symptoms of distress to arise, however, planning for successful attainment of your goals and dreams is necessary for long term success. This all can sound like “double-talk” but it really makes good sense.

First, physical and emotional symptoms can develop for people who are “not in their bodies in the present.” Many people have anxiety/fear regarding occurrences from events which have happened in the past. These can be difficult to “let go.” Likewise, even more people get fearful and anxious about the unknowns of the future. These are things that we can not often control and so can become consciously or unconsciously scary. Most people need to learn how to release fears of the past or of the unknowns of the future and practice living, in their bodies, in the present moment. This is easier said than done, but very important to learn how to do and to use preventively.

If you are not completely happy with your “condition” in life, then you may need to move in positive directions to attain a long term goal and dream that will bring you greater satisfaction and happiness. For example, maybe you want to get your college education and a college degree. Or, maybe you want to take a trip to Paris or Rome. Or, maybe you want your work or investments to give you financial security. All of these are important and significant long range goals. If you want to achieve these, and not just desire them, you must take action. The first action is to really plan the steps necessary to accomplish this major goal. Break it down into the small steps that will take you down the path toward completing your goal. Work out a reasonable time line. Gather the information and the resources that you will require to begin. AND, GET STARTED! Get help or coaching if you can not do this for yourself, in a useful way.

You must be very clear about what your goal looks like. It helps to see, or visualize, your dream. Feel it! Know what the final result will feel like to you. Listen and hear what your success will sound like. Some people can even taste success… In other words, use ALL of your senses to imagine the successful completion of your goal. This will help to make it more “real” for your subconscious mind. NOW, focus on your goal and the path to achieving it.

Do not be lazy! Regularly, immerse yourself in seeing yourself moving toward, and then accomplishing, your goal. Some people do this upon awaking in the morning and again at bedtime. Many people need to start their day with these images of success. I know many people who plan goal focusing breaks throughout their day to help them maintain focus on their positive long range goals.

I believe in this process and I tested it! After completing my Ph.D. program my private practice had shrunk down to 3 appointments per week. I figured that I needed at least 15 per week reach my financial goals. This was in January and I set the last week of March as my target for accomplishing my goal. Several times a day I pictured myself answering the telephone and writing appointments in my appointment book, until all the appointment slots were full. Of course, I also made calls to referral sources and sent out letters to advertise my services. The last week of March, I had 18 appointments on my books and 14 people came in for their appointments. Pretty close to the exact goal I had established. I was thrilled. When I looked at where the new business had come from, less than half of the appointments came from my direct promotional efforts. More than half of these clients came from other sources, “out of the blue” you might say. It did not matter at the time but in the years since, I have come to respect the power of offering clear, specific requests to the universe. By being clear and specific, the universe can help provide the answers you require for the success that you desire. The principles are simple, the actual practice requires dedication, support, and sometimes specific coaching.

My coaching practice often takes clients with big goals and dreams. We move together to build the individualized program for success and take the steps necessary to accomplish these goals.

You can do it! You can make your life move in the most ideal directions, but it requires more than just “wanting” or “dreaming.” It requires the targeted work and the laser focus on your long term goal. What is the accomplishment of your dream really worth to you? Remember that anything of value requires your time, focused attention, and your energy to achieve.

Grab your dreams! Make them happen!

What is Your Gift to the World: Your Purpose

For the people who come in contact with you, how will this contact benefit this person or, in a broader sense, how will this be of benefit to the world? This is not always easy to answer. Whether you consider yourself an expert in some area or you have groomed yourself to be impeccable as a human being, what are the attributes that you have developed that can be of service and can be shared?

You might ask the question of yourself, “What is my Purpose in this Life?” This may overlap with the previous questions, but may also prove to be a challenging question for you to contemplate. Some people have NEVER considered their purpose or their value to the world. Because this requires an effort in circumspection, many people just pass on this task and survive their lives with just basic day-to-day considerations. The larger questions, though difficult, often prove to be useful when considering how best to spend your day. Quality of life’s efforts often have more value than quantity of life’s efforts.

So what is your gift? Do you create objects or services that are appreciated and are of service to others? Or, do you connect with other people in ways that can support positive change or understanding? Are you a gifted listener? Are you a positive role-model? Are you a parent? Are you an educator? Are you a builder? Are you a defender? Are you a healer? Are you a gifted counselor or coach? Are you a “receiver?” Are you a leader who challenges people to move in positive directions? Are you a great team player/member? Are you a loving person? Do you have a radiant smile or infectious laugh? Do you entertain? Do you heal?

Do your long term goals reflect on your strengths in service? Do consider giving or giving back to the world (or beyond?) Everyone has a purpose, though some people do not recognize their greater purpose. Everyone touches other people’s lives and helps to create important lessons or opportunities for developing consciousness. Where do you want to touch lives and assist people in developing higher consciousness? How can you do this even more frequently? Can you be even more conscious about your role in assisting other people and so the developing consciousness of the world?

Along the way, find your passion and pursue it as fully as you can!

Consider connecting with other pilgrims on their path to consciousness by joining Masters of the Journey. Info at www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney and www.mastersofthejourney.com (soon).

Dangers of Ignoring the Impact of Stress

Why are we in denial?

Have you ever experienced any stress? Is the world more stressful now than it was 20 years ago? Have you ever experienced physical or emotional symptoms that are made worse as a response to stress? Do you believe that the best solution to stress is getting drunk or taking drugs?

I ask these questions many times per month to groups I train or individuals I coach. Without exception, people respond by saying that there is plenty of stress out in the world. It can be a distraction and effect physical and emotional health.

Now I ask you, what do you do, on a daily basis, to control your responses to stress? Do you meditate or practice stress management for 20 minutes per day? Most people say that they are too busy for 20 minutes of relaxation. People think that there is some easier way to control stress like taking medication. It is not convenient to practice stress management, so why bother to do it? The other response that many people use when confronted by the challenges of stress is to a point a finger and then blame someone or something else, rather that to take any responsibility for ones own habitual response to life’s stress.

Do not believe me without testing this out for yourself, but most people find that by practicing 20 minutes of deep relaxation, daily, they will actually save time and energy. Research suggests that 20 minutes of deep relaxation can take the place of as much as 2 hours of sleep and the sleep that you do get will be deeper and more restful. When I first heard this statistic I did not believe it, as most of you will not. I tested the statement and after 3 months I discovered that I required less sleep. Instead of needing 8.5 hours of sleep, I was getting rested with only 7 hours of sleep. So I invested 20 minutes and required 1.5 hours less sleep time. I came out ahead by one hour and ten minutes. Many of my Executive Coaching clients, after I convince them to try the 20 minutes of stress management, report that they get more work done in less time, with less energy, because they are better able to focus and make fewer mistakes. I challenge you to try this activity for 8-12 weeks and find the benefits that will surface.

People resist trying new things even if these “new things” are good for them. In fact, people are so overwhelmed that most of us are apathetic about taking good care of ourselves. We simply do not have the energy to care… Making time, even just 20 minutes per day, is painful and difficult. Motivation is low for using stress management preventively. Stress can cause headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, rapid heart rates, anxiety, depression, GI complaints, sexual dysfunction, back or neck pain, and poor quality of life, and yet most people would rather develop annoying or dangerous symptoms rather than practice stress management…

Most people have an unconscious need to get beaten up by stress as if it were their badge of honor for surviving our hectic world… There are a few genetic immunes who thrive on stress, with no sleep, and they make the rest of us mere mortals look bad. These “immunes” are in denial and stress will eventually affect their health or their relationships in negative ways. In Japan there is a word “Karoshi” which translates; people who work themselves to death. There is an addiction to work in our society and we need to be aware that the long term consequences of this attitude are high costs to our health, relationships, and quality of life.

When we are younger, we can get away with not sleeping or self-care. We are young and strong and flexible, but as we get older, we lose our flexibility and our strength. We have to learn how to do things smarter instead of “muscling through.” If we don’t, we will pay the price and our denial will not save us from our suffering.

Things in life that are the most stressful are the things that you care the most about but that you can not control. The only thing that you can control is the way that you respond in these difficult situations but this can take time and effort.

Please take your head out of the sand and take good care of yourself. Even if this means spending 20 minutes per day with stress management. It will save you time, energy, and even money in the long run.

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the country’s leading expert on stress management and the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training. In 1978, he opened the Stress Education Center www.dstress.com.

Unique Path to Higher Consciousness

Are you happy with your life and find joy every day? Do you know YOUR “purpose”? Do you wish there was something more in your life? Perhaps: peace, connection, community, spirit, or even life balance? Have you considered what you could be doing differently to find greater fulfillment?

Or, would you like to better control fear and anxiety? Would you like to live each day with greater personal satisfaction?

If these questions stimulate something in you then maybe you are on a path to develop your higher consciousness. Would you be open minded enough to look at a spiritual development program (and community) that is NOT based on religion, churches, gurus, celebrities, ashrams, denial, rigid philosophy, or old school mind control? There is a new way to connect with higher consciousness that does not follow older, controlling dogmas or ego filled leaders. Masters of the Journey: A Transformational Community allows you to be the Master. The process invites you to celebrate and share your past life lessons with other fellow pilgrims who are on the path toward raising their spiritual consciousness. These fellow Spiritual Warriors are available to support you and to be witness to the story of your learning. The value to these fellow pilgrims comes from the sharing of stories and the trainings that enhance the process of growth.

Trainings will vary from: stress management, meditation skills, communication techniques, learning to be present and grounded, development of intuition, using biofeedback, and learning how to control anxiety while tapping unconditional love and higher consciousness. The Master of the Journey believe that we are all interconnected (and one) and it benefits ALL of us to assist and support all the fellow travelers. We will set up webinars, conference calls, trainings, retreats, and Master Mind groups so people can participate in ways that are best for their individual requirements. BUT, most importantly, the trainings and the community offer you an opportunity to live your life with greater purpose and satisfaction!

So are you ready to participate in this new endeavor? Would you like to move forward every day of your life? Would you like to join a community of pilgrims moving more consciously through life?

Contact us through our Facebook page at Masters of the Journey’s Facebook pagewww.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney and look for website (in development) at www.mastersofthejourney.com You can also contact us through the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com Anyhow, good luck on your journey. FIND your unbridled passion for life!

Can a Retreat Program Change Your Life?

Have you ever participated in a retreat? Was it for spiritual growth or as an education experience? Perhaps it was a healing retreat to help find relief for a physical or emotional challenge. Was the retreat a weekend or week long experience? Did you spend the money to travel to this retreat and find that your life was changed making the value was very high for you? Or did you have a negative attitude about time and money spent on a retreat-like experience?

Many people have paid lots of money to go on vacation. Some vacations are “retreats” in practice, if not in name. Weeks on a cruise ship or a golf vacation are actually retreat-like but perhaps without the focus upon a specific outcome. Most people hold vacations in their memory for their entire lives. These were rewarding experiences that, in subtle ways, may have changed your life.

There are retreat centers that have recognizable names such as Esalen on the Big Sur coast in Northern California. Since 1962, Esalen Institute has offered healing and “growth” retreats for professional development and for the general public. This is a model that has been duplicated, in principle, by many other organizations. Often a retreat is “lead” by a therapist, author, philosopher, artist, poet, healer or expert in some emotional or physical process. There are many styles and formulas that can be used to impart the necessary information. Often people who attend these retreats learn that the information they receive is secondary to the experience of the “process” that brings individuals and the group to their highest levels of insight. The “process” is what the retreats are really all about and this cannot be gleaned from books, audios, videos, or conference calls. This process can include the physical and emotional experience of connection to the information and also the connections made with others attending the retreat. The connections are important and possibly even therapeutic, making the experience a life changing event. By making these meaningful connections with others you can change your self-awareness and in doing so change your life.

Not all retreats benefit every participant deeply. Every participant brings to the retreat their own energy, history, and past experience. Not everyone who leads a retreat is skillful at reaching out to every participant. In some cases, the connections are not made and so the retreat experience may have less value. Some participants go with the belief and intention that it will change their lives for the better. They are ready to transform and do not resist the new insights or deny the insights they experience. Often people fear change and resist the process.
Insights gained from retreats can have long-lasting effects. These changes may happen rapidly and be integrated into the participant’s life in dramatic ways or they may manifest more slowly over time and have a seemingly subtle effect. Rapid, sudden change is not always good or even long lasting.

If you are reading this blog and have made it this far, I would appreciate you contributing the past experiences you have had on personal growth retreats. Why did you go? What did you expect? What knowledge, information, or benefits did you receive from the process? How did the experience change your life? Did the connections you made with other people or with the process continue in your life? Would you recommend a specific retreat process and why was this retreat so life-changing for you? Thanks in advance for your input. (Send your thoughts to wellness@dstress.com)

I have lead retreats for many years and I am building new retreat processes for the future. My dream has been to build a retreat process that helps to pair people with specific health or emotional challenges, like PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain, etc, with professional therapists and coaches who wish to be trained in assisting individuals or groups of people in the processes that can relieve these challenges. I have floated around the country offering programs in various venues but I would love to see a retreat facility that has been created to certain specific criteria so the very best retreat work can be accomplished. Any thoughts on this are also welcome.

I appreciate your time and attention. I hope to meet with you in a rewarding and productive retreat process in the future. Until then, please take good care of yourself. AND, keep open and growing along your way.

If you would like to explore the Retreat Process for yourself or for your organization contact the Stress Education Center through www.dstress.com.