As someone whose undergraduate degrees include both Psychology and Religious studies, I am always looking for different ways human beings can utilize both to promote emotional healing. With that being said, I don’t want to water down religious practices or philosophy; or enhance psychology to the level of religion. In fact, we won’t begin with religion, spirituality, or psychology. We will begin with a universal human power known as “unconditional self-acceptance” and we must begin any practice we undertake with this universal human power. Since we can only begin anything from where we are now in this moment, we have to begin with accepting ourselves as we are. This unconditional self-acceptance is not about hopelessness or our sense of stress or anxiety but instead is about checking in with ourselves to see where we are in the moment – without judgment – and using that as a starting point. There is no other starting point than the present, so we may as well accept that and embrace ourselves as we are no matter how we feel. Unconditional self-acceptance then becomes the launching pad to begin the process of dealing with stress and anxiety and moving into emotional healing states. We must accept where we are so we can change because ultimately we will. Change is a law of the physical universe so let’s align ourselves by accepting that we will always change and choose to align ourselves with what is positive for us and what enhances physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
We can find analogies in both schools of thought and belief, and in doing so, we are able to paint a picture of our experience of ourselves and our world as tools of help and emotional healing. In this post, I will be speaking about how to deal with stress and anxiety since so much of our lives involves stressors from uncertainty, overwork, social isolation, social distancing, and much more.
Let’s look at these steps through the eyes of a Buddhist and their view of awakening. I would also add emotional healing to the three vehicles of Body, Speech, and Mind. In particular, let’s look at how we can use our body, speech, and mind to enhance emotional healing and regain self-empowerment by reducing stress and anxiety.
Let’s begin a practice of learning how to deal with stress and anxiety…
Step 1: Can I find unconditional self-acceptance at this moment where I am, as I am?
This means accepting ourselves as never fully unconditional as human beings. We can accept that we are not perfect even as we desire and make an effort to bring ourselves into more spiritual and emotional health.
Step 2: Body
How can I use my body to reduce stress and anxiety? Do I need a hug? Does someone else need a hug? Do I need exercise or yoga? How can I breathe so that my body aligns with a relaxed nervous system? Can I change my diet in any way? Can I stretch? Can I take a warm bath? Can I feel myself in my body? What can I do to be more embodied?
Step 3: Speech
Do the words I tell others and myself align towards better health? Do my words increase hope in myself and others? How can I speak differently to reduce my stress and anxiety? What music or sounds can I make or listen to? What words can I repeat to myself that are soothing and don’t keep me in a spin? What kind of words am I listening to or reading on social media, the news, and the radio? What would happen to my emotional wellbeing if I made time for silence – the source of all speech and sound – the restfulness that rejuvenates my words when they are needed?
Step 4: Mind
What am I putting into my mind? What kinds of words and images am I feeding my mind? Am I using my mind to empower myself or disempower myself? What happens to my emotional state when I think well of others and think of their good qualities? What happens when I think of my speech? What happens when I quiet my mind? What happens when I use my mind as an instrument for peace inside – rather than something that feeds stress and anxiety? What happens when I visualize positive scenes and outcomes? How can I perceive the world, myself, and my friends and family differently by changing my mind? Do I own that where I place my attention is a choice that I have?
Are you using your creativity to bring blessings of Body, Speech, and Mind to yourself and others? May your Body, Speech, and Mind find lightness and serenity this Winter Holiday Season!