Living Outside the Box!

Are you happy with the way your life is playing out? Have you found your purpose in this life and are you engaging in working your purpose everyday? Are you questioning whether you have found yourself living a life which could be different and perhaps more rewarding? Are you in a box with your job, your finances, your relationships, and possibly with your life’s purpose?

To be honest, most of us would have to agree that life sometimes, or maybe more often than sometimes, feels like it is going sideways. Just to complicate this discussion, consider this statement, some people define “Crazy” as repeating the same thing (Behavior) over and over again and expecting different results. (Occasionally, you may use a repeated behavior and get a different response because the environment or people involved will allow for a slightly different reaction.) Remember, if you do not like the response you get to a certain behavior then you need to take responsibility and try something different to get a more satisfying response. YOU have a choice! And, it starts by knowing that YOU are responsible and then, to break patterns where you are blaming other people or institutions for the less than desirable reaction. Yes, try an entirely new approach.

Why are you resisting change and a new approach? We do not try new behaviors because we are AFRAID. Yes, we have FEAR of new approaches because we lack confidence and do not know how these will turn out. We prefer to have reliable failure, which is comfortable and which we are familiar with, rather than move toward a more positive, yet unknown, outcome. We even have surrounded ourselves with family and friends who like us the way we are and would have difficulty supporting us if we were more successful and confident. They like the “Old” and familiar person you have been trapped within. Maybe, it is time to find new friends who love and support you on your path to becoming ever more successful and joyful.

At the end of your life, are you going to feel good about what you have accomplished and the people you have assisted? Will you weigh your legacy by how much money or how many “toys,” you have? Can you ask yourself, and honestly answer, that you have lived a full life filled with the service which has helped move consciousness forward?

It is time to take the small steps to find a better more adventurous and rewarding life. It may even be time to take the big steps toward your new life of personal responsibility and positive change. Personally, I have learned more from my failed attempts at changing my life and from confronting the challenges of trying new behaviors that lead me down an unhappy path. Take a risk. Get positive support. Break out of the confined box that has been a comfortable but unhappy experience. You will never know until you try, how good it feels to make that stretch in your life. Enjoy the adventure! No one else can do this for you, so do not wait.

The Masters of the Journey community may help to provide some support if your quest includes spiritual development (in a non-religious way.)

Meditation: The First Step to Higher Consciousness

Meditation practice regularly helps you to be more calm and present. When you release your thoughts in meditation, your body relaxes and energy is freed for you to use in other activities or to rest and heal yourself. Letting go of thoughts, fear, anxieties, and distractions allow an emotional environment where fewer mistakes are made and you save time. When you are calmed by meditation, you are less likely to be “Triggered” and you can be more available for positive decision making and better choices.

This is nothing new. Yes, it does take time and practice to learn to meditate but it saves you time and energy in the long run. I have found that people require less sleep and can focus better during their work day. Meditation also allows connection with the divine source of wisdom and unconditional love. You may not know this and even may want to argue about this, but if you quiet yourself and become more fully “present” you will find these benefits.

Or, you can continue to be caught in your emotional drama and allow fear & anger to run your life. This is perfect also. Being open and positive will help you to find more joy and contentment in the challenges of life.

Blessings to you on your path. Just remember to breathe slowly and feel the warm breath that you exhale assist you in letting go of unwanted tension and troubling emotions.

More information at:
Stress Education Center and
Masters of the Journey

Books on Meditations include:
Curt Remington’s Simple Meditation at http://curtremington.com
and
Paula Forget’s, “Guided to a Higher Realm at http://paulaforget.com/inspired/

I Have No Fear

“I have no fear because everything is as the Force (Divine) wills it.” Thanks Rodger for this quote from the new Star Wars film, “Rogue One,” which will be released in December, 2016. I love it when fantasy fiction triggers deep insight… Or, at least thoughts…

The “Course in Miracles” and many other Metaphysical, New Age oracles seem to repeat that there is only “Fear” and “Love” and only “Love” wins. Some say that Fear is just a form of Love. Love is the force that drives the Divine Spirit and is at the core of all creation and consciousness. Our “human forms” with our mind’s ego do not move beyond this incarnation and so the survival of body, mind, and ego create fear as a way of creating separation and as a “survival response.” Deeper Acceptance of the Divine and its core force of Love can allow for the release of the “Meatsuit,” the mind, and certainly, the ego, as we transition into the next learning incarnation.

There is the belief that the soul/spirit never dies but moves on. If it never dies then we do not need to fear death or change. (Which is easier said than done….) We can accept the loss of the “illusion” of this life and its reality. (Again, easier said than done…) We can even find ourselves in the soul and spirit of every person we encounter and so to hate (or fear) them is to hate ourselves! (Judgement is so difficult to release…)

Fear is a great motivator. Fear energizes us to push through uncomfortable experiences. Fear can also paralyze us and keep us from moving through life. A lot has been said regarding “Over-coming Fear!” Perhaps accepting our “humanism” with weaknesses, flaws, and anxiety is an important lesson. Can we truly accept our lessons and know that whatever happens it is “Perfect” and just the way the Divine “wills it?” I am told that when Gandhi’s assassin approached him and pulled the trigger for the lethal shot, Gandhi blessed him and accepted his demise. Was this acceptance or Divine wisdom or stupid defenselessness? For me, hearing this story brings a deeper level of appreciation when it comes to being devoted to Love, non-violence, and trusting the Divine. I am not sure how I would react if I found myself in a similar situation. So, I must still be on my path to acceptance and lesson learning…

Blessings to you and Know your Fear in ways where it does NOT control you. (Again, easier said than done…)

Live in Love and Joy. Find Acceptance in your soul.

Consider the support community of Masters of the Journey so you can share your wisdom as the Master you are.

Breathe and Be Present!

When all else fails and you find yourself emotionally spinning or anxious or angry, STOP, take a deep slow breath. Feel the cool air as you inhale and the warm air exhale as you slowly breathe out… Be present! Release the anger or resentment from the past. Let the future wait, without the fear and anxiety of the unknown. Sure this is easier said than done but with some practice, and willingness, you can learn to live more in the appreciation of the present moment.

It really is not that difficult to pay close attention to the cool air as you breathe in, then pause a moment, and then slowly release the breath while allowing the unnecessary thoughts and emotions to slowly, but freely, flow out and away. You have to breathe anyway. Why not do it consciously? And, while you slowly breathe, why not learn to take responsibility for YOUR role in creating the life drama that may be upsetting to you… Sure, there are annoying people and  incidents, but you have a choice to get sucked in to the drama or to not get sucked in. Yes, you can just watch the drama unfold and wonder what your lesson is and what you are supposed to be learning from the weird turn of events.

There are styles of meditation which are practiced for years and built around focusing on slowly breathing. It can take people years to master these styles but it does not have to take years to have important benefits for you in the present moment! In fact, if you walk out into a beautiful natural setting like by the ocean, or by a river/stream, or by the majesty of the mountains with the sky above reaching up to the heavens, you can use your slow breathing to find the beauty and appreciation of the present moment. This will change your attitude quickly, if you let it! You can let go of the fear and be present, basking in the love that accompanies the beauty of the present moment in nature. If you can not get out into nature then use a candle to focus on or maybe a beautiful photograph or painting as a natural mandala to soothe your mind and soul. Even a pleasant memory of a time basking in the beauty of nature will help to soothe you in the present moment if you find yourself slowly breathing deeply with the willingness to “let go.”

You can close your eyes and go inward to feel the cool air as you inhale, pause, and release the warm exhale, slowly. String together 8-12 slow breaths and your heart rate will begin to slow and your muscles will begin to relax. As you slow down, your mind will gently follow into a more peaceful and pleasant state. This is a great skill to share with the people you care the most about… And, also it is worth sharing with people who you do not care the most about. The calming with gently spread like a chain reaction and offer calmness to all of your environment.

The Stress Education Center has information at www.dstress.com . The Masters of the Journey has information and ways to find a spiritual tribe to support you at www.mastersofthejourney.com  Please take good care of yourself and find ways to be “Present.”

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

Zen Meditation for Westerners

Have you ever sat peacefully beside a campfire or a warming fireplace and gazed into the fire? You have even lost yourself for moments as you were transfixed by the dancing of the flames. It may have even seemed difficult to turn away from the glowing center of your focus.

Or, have you ever found yourself sitting on the beach watching as the waves roll in, break, and then wash up unto the beach? It is so meditative to walk along the beach and play tag with the waves that are thrown up unto the sand beneath your feet. Sitting by a river or stream can also bring the calmness of mind as you watch the moving water and hear the sound of the water as it washes downstream.

Watching the breezes blowing through tall grasses or leaves on a tree can also lead you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind. But why do these nature visions gently create the relaxed and mellow states of mind and body?

The very act of being out in nature, or finding enjoyment by appreciating natural beauty is one of the most important and most basic tools for finding inner peace and harmony. The very act of “being present” with the glorious natural beauty is another important tool. Find a way to let go of the “past” and release the uncertainty regarding the unknowns of the “future,” even for just a few minutes, can be a practice of restoration. There are many ways to do this such as: following your slowed breath with special appreciation of the cool air as you inhale and the warmth of your breath as you slowing exhale.

In the science of neuro-physiology, you may also learn that the sound vibration of running water (from a stream or from waves upon the beach) resonates with frequency of 10 Hz per second which neuro- psychologists understand is the same as the brain wave state known as the “Alpha” rhythm which, for most people, is the quiet mind, “meditative” state that can be found in EEG (brainwave) patterns of successful meditators. By being around moving water, your own EEG pattern may begin to align with 10 Hz per second and so help you to drift into a more relaxed state.

But what has this to do with the practice of Zen Meditation, which has been taught for thousands of years? Zen meditation, at its most basic level, is the practice quieting the mind by softly gazing through open eyes at the world. It helps to have a peaceful, quiet, meditative point to focus upon such as a candle, flowing water, a mandala, or even the beauty of a flower or tree. To become “present” and to slow your breathing as you focus are the first things to practice. In the beginning your mind may be cluttered with other thoughts and memories, but with dedicated practice you can learn to quiet these thoughts by not judging them and letting flow through you and out of your mind, while returning the soft focus on the beauty in front of you. There are times when times comes more easily and times in life when the distractions are more engaging.

A few moments of peaceful and slow breathing can better help you to prepare for the quieting of the gentle Zen focusing. Your position can vary from standing, to sitting, to lying down, though many trained meditators prefer the sitting position. Whatever your position, it is best to find a comfortable position where you might spend 5 -20 minutes peacefully gazing at the object which you are focusing upon. (If you are using a candle, be advised to do this safely and protected from hot wax or melting candles which may be too close to other flammable materials…)

Be as neutral as you can be regarding the focus of your attention. Accept the beauty and the moment. Allow yourself to drift deeper into the pleasant and relaxing quiet. Many meditators will allow these peaceful feelings to return with them for use through the rest of their day. This can  give them a more solid mental and emotional foundation so they can move more smoothly through the interactions of their daily activities. It may not solve all the challenges but it can be a very comforting, “centered” posture to move more gracefully through the dramas which can enter your life…

Pick a beautiful photograph if you can not get out into natural beauty. Choose a quiet time in your schedule when you are beginning this practice, because this may reduce the annoyances which can be distracting in the early stages of the practice of Zen Meditation. Some people pick early morning or sunrise. I like late afternoon or twilight times. Find the time that works best for you and stick with for a while until you know whether it is a good time in your natural schedule for meditation.

Be patient. Start slowly and for shorter periods of time. Remember to breathe slowly and more deeply than you might normally. Look to relax your forehead, your jaw, your shoulders, and anywhere else you may be holding tension.

My friend, Jim Papp, who is the author of the the book, “Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit” is a strong proponent of finding solitude in nature. His advice includes a walk or hike in a natural setting with the Zen mind of appreciation and “Presence.” The Zen experience of being with and in nature is a grounding exercise and a centering process which most people find meditative and healing of mind, body, and spirit. Finding all of your
senses surrounded by the beauty of the natural world gives a healthy calmness to your mind, body, and spirit. Connecting with nature is a practice that goes back in human history to the very origins of humankind and even basic survival for all lifeforms. The “ancient wisdoms” have been filled with appreciation and “presence” with Mother Earth, though this practice has been pushed into the background by technology and “modern” scientific rational thinking. This modern approach to nature has also gotten humans into a good bit of trouble with the lack of respect and “connection” with the Earth.

Blessings to you on your path toward greater consciousness and keep your eyes “soft focused” on the beautiful moments you encounter!

For more information on managing stress, including using meditation, consider the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com. For more support and information on growing your consciousness and spirit consider the Masters of the Journey community 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.

Panic and Anxiety Control Program

Symptoms of panic and anxiety can be confused with life threatening physical disorders! Please consult your physician to determine the source of your symptoms.

Behavioral techniques for controlling panic and anxiety. Help get back in control of your life.
This is an update of specific things you can do to control the symptoms of panic and anxiety attacks. These devastating occurrences can negatively affect your day to day quality of life. But this is not news for anyone suffering from this terrible disorder. Millions of people live in fear of these “attacks.” Major transitions, trauma, and stress can lead to feelings of little or no control over one’s life! This can affect people in major ways.

A scary symptom which can develop is called Panic (or Panic Attack.”) A panic episode can come on suddenly or can awaken you from your sleep with a nasty feeling of apprehension. Some people believe that they are having a heart attack because often there is chest pain, a shortness of breath, neck or arm pain, major stomach upset, an adrenaline rush, lightheadedness, dizziness, and other unpleasant feelings of fear and apprehension. These feelings can be triggered by specific events such as: driving (getting stuck in traffic), shopping, waiting in lines at stores, banks, post offices, etc, feeling trapped in church/movies/classes, traveling distances from home (especially flying, etc.), making a presentation in front of a group of people (drawing attention toward yourself), doing new or unfamiliar activities, meeting new people, basically, doing anything new or seemingly stressful where you may fear “LOSING CONTROL.” Loss of control is the main feature that makes this so frightening for the people who suffer from panic and anxiety. We may not know a panic sufferer by looking at him or her because they can maintain such good control that unless we were to look very carefully we might not notice the nervousness below the surface.

Heart problems, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties (hyperventilation and dizziness are common symptoms of panic/anxiety attacks) should be carefully examined by your physician! If no heart related problem exists, but you are still in great fear of these occurrences of panic then the following behavioral program, with practice, will greatly aid you in preventing or at least minimizing the episodes of panic. Also, remember that exciting/positive actions or events can raise your heart rate. This excitement is not bad or life threatening, but you fear of the physical symptoms of excitement can really hamper your enjoyment of life!

The keys to controlling panic and anxiety are:

• Breathe slowly/diaphragmatically
• Remain in the present… in your body, in a positive way
• Positive self-talk… not negative ruminations
• Avoid caffeine and stimulants
• Regular aerobic exercise
• Regular deep relaxation with Biofeedback Temperature monitoring
• Use relaxation tapes/CD’s regularly!
• Learn to warm your hands and feet
• Get support in confronting and then desensitizing yourself to fears/phobias
• Taper your anti-anxiety medication after you have mastered the relaxation-biofeedback

1. Learn to breathe diaphragmatically
Place a hand over your upper abdomen
Push it OUT as you inhale
Let in move IN as you exhale
Let your chest, shoulder, neck, and back relax as you breathe.
Only on a very deep breath should these parts move in the breath.
This may be the most important Panic Control Technique you can learn!

2. Use any of the Stress Management Audio’s, especially, #205 Stress Management for Controlling Panic and Anxiety, 1-3 times per day for 8-12 weeks. Check the “Products” page at the Stress Education Center’s website.
After achieving a level of controlled deep relaxation, repeat suggestions of “control,” especially control of slow, regular breathing and slow regular heart rate. Suggestions of “letting go” to help achieve hand and foot warming, along with any visualizations that can encourage this increase of peripheral blood flow, would be very useful, as well.

Try to find: StressDots or some sort of temperature training biofeedback device on your hands to learn how to warm your hands with relaxation. When you can consistently get above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (93-95 degrees is ideal) then you can begin to master warming your feet to 90 degrees.
When you can “let go” by relaxing and warming your hands and feet, you will be able to control if not prevent your panic episodes. Then you must develop the confidence in your control so the fear of panic will not control your life.

3. Regular exercise will help you to work off the effects of life’s stresses
3-5 times per week of regular exercise that can elevate your heart rate for 15-45 minutes would be best. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for a long while. Even though elevating your heart rate can be a little scary, the release of tensions and the strengthening of your cardiovascular system will have great benefits.

4. Eat regular meals.
Low fat and complex carbohydrates are better than fast foods with lots of sugar. AVOID CAFFEINE and other stimulants. Caffeine is found in coffee, black teas, cola drinks, chocolate, some over-the-counter pain medications, and other foods/drugs. Read labels. Eating as closely as you can to natural foods (lots of: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) will benefit any one.

5. Practice positive self-talk.
Do not let your fears escalate into you losing control of your body and your mind. By breathing slowly and staying in your body, in present time, you avoid falling into the negative pattern of fear and panic.

6. Get support from your friends, doctor, and a therapist if necessary.
Check your area for panic/anxiety support or treatment groups! Regular use of anti-anxiety medications may be better than just taking your prescription only after the panic has begun. Reduce your medication in a supervised way after you have mastered the relaxation/biofeedback control techniques.

Remember you can get back in control of your body and your life! You must make this a priority so you can avoid being a victim to this set of scary symptoms.

Panic/anxiety is not always your enemy. This reaction is designed to protect you and may teach you something about the stresses and transitions you are going through. Denial of these challenges only creates a more stubborn set of symptoms that can be more debilitating.

Other Good books that can help you:David Barlow, Ph.D. and Jerome Cerny, Psychological Treatment of Panic, Guilford Press, New York. 1988.

Susan Lark, MD, Anxiety & Stress: A Self-Help Program, Westchester Publishing Company, Los Altos, CA. 1993.

For more information regarding the Stress Education Center Panic/Anxiety Control Program visit the website at www.dstress.com or call 360-593-3833.