Friday, May 11, 2012

Secret Stressors

In class the other day, I, and I believe a few others, had a realization.  Most people have a baseline level of stress that is not equal to zero.  We live at, for example, a level one.  Our baseline state is not a calm one.  One reason for this is secret stressors.  These are things that we don't say out loud or even confess to because they are so fundamental to the human condition.  On Maslow's hierarchy of needs, they rest under the heading "self-actualization", but few people know what that means, let alone how to achieve it. 
One example of these secret or unmentioned stressors is the need for belonging, to have friends and to have a purpose.  The reason yoga and meditation work to bring us into a level zero of stress is that it makes this need for belonging irrelevant, in that it either makes you feel sufficient or that is relieves the pressure of that stress by letting you momentarily forget the need. 
There are two ways to approach the solution to these stressors:  top-down or bottom-up.  You can fix the big problems or you can work on your "self".  These concepts are not new, but working on one's self can take a substantial amount of effort.  However, working in this manner ultimately leads to long-lasting reform and overall greater well-being.  So your homework, if you choose to accept it, is to figure out small ways to work bottom-up to decrease the stress related to and compounded by the "secret stressors."  I have a few ideas and will share them with you on Monday!

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