Stress Management using Mindfulness Meditation Therapy


Emotional stress is something that we all experience when we have to cope with the many demands and responsibilities of home and work. Stress can be defined as an intense emotional and physiological reaction to a situation or the mental representation of a situation as a memory or anticipation. Chronic stress is produced when stress reactions do not resolve themselves and become habitual. The sustained physiological effects of chronic stress can have a serious effect on the body and lead to an increased risk of disease. The psychological effects of chronic stress produce fatigue, poor concentration and an impaired ability to perform tasks, which leads to more stress. Stress produces a general feeling of helplessness and negativity, both of which reinforce the stress reactions. This produces a lack of vitality, enthusiasm and creativity and many people describe chronic stress as a heavy blackness that covers everything and in its severe form, chronic stress leads to depression. Chronic stress can result in an increased chance of accidents as well as reducing work performance. Chronic stress also reduces our listening and learning skills and this reduces the quality of communication in our personal relationships and family.

It is well recognized that stress reactions are learned and originate from the influence of our own mental outlook and from belief patterns acquired from our parents, family and culture. Stress always contains both an objective component and a subjective component and in most situations, it is the habitual subjective emotional reactivity that generates the emotional tension and physiological characteristics of stress. There is pain and there is suffering. Pain is the objective component that is often inevitable or unavoidable, but suffering is a subjective reaction that we generate and add to the pain. The Buddha described this subjective suffering as dukkha and not surprisingly, mindfulness, which is one of the central teachings of the Buddha, was and continues to be very relevant for working with and resolving emotional stress.

The other major source of stress comes from unresolved traumas that result from physical injury, assault, domestic abuse and violence. In general this kind of trauma-related stress results from experiences and associated emotional reactions that we cannot process, because they are outside of our normal range of experience. These unresolved wounds become repressed and submerge into the subconscious mind where they continue to simmer and generate a generalized anxiety. This is described as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Occasionally, in severe cases of PTSD resulting from war or other intense situations, the stress reactions will erupt as nightmares and flashbacks in which the individual re-lives the trauma.

Whatever the source of the stress reactions, it is important to understand that each reaction has an internal structure in the form of negative thoughts and beliefs and associated emotional energy that gives power to these thoughts. It is often very helpful to examine these negative thoughts and try to change them. This is the approach taken in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Another approach is to change the emotional energy that empowers the thoughts and beliefs, because without this compulsive charge, the beliefs will have no power to generate stress. This is the approach taken in MMT. Through careful attention and investigation of the emotion through mindfulness, we can uncover the internal structure of the emotion and discover what needs to change. As the structure changes, so does the emotion. Resolve this and you will neutralize the stress reactions. what is the fear of change

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