Work with Michael

Stress is not the Problem

connection michaelleeyoga pryt stress tranquilty Oct 06, 2022

As the author of a book, “Turn Stress Into Bliss,” that has sold well, why would I want to say “stress is not the problem”? Simple.   I now believe stress manifests an even bigger problem in our society. And that problem is disconnection and fragmentation, and stress is the mere result of those conditions. And sure, there is much we can do to alleviate stress and self-regulate the more severe stress-related symptoms, but unless we tackle the underlying causes, we may continue to live a stressed-out life in a stressed-out world. 

Disconnection is primarily a feeling of uneasiness and a sense of not knowing which way to turn. We seemed to have exhausted our options to alleviate some undesirable ways life turned out. We often feel like a stranger, even among friends and family. And there may also seem to be a fruitlessness in our pursuits in life. We seek respite in social media and work but tend to become empty. Most of our day, our mind is occupied with thoughts that focus mainly on the past or the future. We tend to look back on the past with regret or nostalgia and look to the future with fear, uncertainty, or high expectations of a miracle to transform our current reality. We are not “HERE” in many of our waking moments. This disconnection is heavily fueled by the mass media and what we perceive as the “right way to live.” We are constantly bombarded by the noise of the marketplace, competing for our attention and money. The general thrust is that we will be less than complete until we get the latest and greatest whatever. There is no “peace of mind” and no sense of belonging if we accept things as they are. 

Fragmentation results from our attention to so many different places, people, or things that we have difficulty focusing on or seeing the bigger picture. I recall a lesson from an Australian Aboriginal elder when taking a course on survival in the outback. He told us, “You blokes are crazy. You look, look, look for everything, and you see nothing. I look for nothing and see everything”. Little did I know I would learn the same lesson from my contemplative practices some 40 years later.

What this disconnection and fragmentation produce is a state of inner turmoil. And the more we try to paddle faster to get rid of it, the worse it becomes. Slowing down to even notice the roses let alone stand long enough to smell them, is usually not an option given much consideration if we engage in a practice like meditation to provide a little temporary relief before we rush back to the  “more important” things in life. 

The good news is that this situation, for most, is not too difficult to transform. The most crucial and probably most challenging step at the beginning is to begin the re-connection process. This is best done with ourselves. We cannot meaningfully connect with others if we are not connected to ourselves. Connection with self is difficult because the process includes the recognition of disconnection and fragmentation that we are experiencing. Not only recognizing it but also accepting it, watching it at the moment, and not jumping on the train with it or trying to push it away. This is hard and requires some preparation before even trying. Hence, when many attempts to meditate, they immediately declare it Is not for them and that they can’t do it. Preparation is needed. 

Over many years of engaging in this work personally and with students and clients, I’ve discovered ways that facilitate this process and make it easier to embrace. Some are pretty straightforward. For example, it helps to move and breathe before trying to connect too deeply on the inside. The body needs preparation, which will make the whole process easier if prepared. The yogic practice of pratyahara, which I define as “selective sensory focus,” is another tool for a deeper connection. 

Many fear that if they attain too much peace of mind or tranquility due to various practices, they will lose their ‘edge’ or capacity to make things happen in the world.   There is little evidence to support this, and the opposite is more likely to be true. Recently, I’ve been exploring the state of being that I term “vibrant tranquility” – a sense of calm coexisting with a powerful sense of power and vitality that can be easily harnessed and put to use. It is very similar to the state of being of the samurai. This is not only a desirable state but a beneficial one from which to navigate life with mindful and soft awareness. 

Are you ready to make a transformative shift in your most commonly experienced ‘state of being”? Even if you can’t live there permanently, wouldn’t it be great to spend most of your day in a more evenly balanced state with a little more flow and less anxiety? 

Get your feet in the water with this dynamic live webinar and the shift will begin. 

LIVE WEBINAR with Michael Lee (90 min)  OCT 16th - Transform Stress into Vibrant Tranquility 

For a deeper dive into transforming your life check out the comprehensive, easy-to-engage, self-paced Turn Stress Into Bliss program 

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