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Creating a Counterbalance: How to Change Stressful Perceptions and Reactions with Inner Ease

Science has shown that positive emotions can help shift and replace our stress-producing feelings and perceptions. This serves to counterbalance the depleting effects from our stressful reactions and also positively affects our psychological and physiological levels.

As we increasingly take charge of our emotions, we can reduce and prevent much of the stress we experience. In learning to neutralize and transform our stress, we become a conscious contributor to our own health, balance, and fulfillment.

To help become a conscious director of our emotional nature and stressful reactions, start with the practice of self-monitoring.

Inner Self-Monitoring

As you start your day, and occasionally throughout the day, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I feeling right now? Are my mind and emotions churning out worry and stressful projections regarding future outcomes, or do I feel resilient and balanced in my decisions, actions and responses to whatever the day brings?
  • Am I remembering that I have the choice to take pause and weigh out my heart’s responses and suggestions — before falling into the same old mental and emotional reactions that lower my spirit and drain the energy needed to create and operate effectively?

These types of questions are simply for stimulating the memory that there are pro-active things we can do to mitigate and prevent a significant amount of stress and low productivity.

Breathing the feeling of ease helps to quieten your mind’s static; this makes it easier to feel your heart’s intuitive suggestions for less stressful, more effective ways to handle whatever a day brings. We can’t erase all of our challenges, but we can get a lot smarter in how we deal with them. Connecting with our heart-smarts can become a powerful stress-buster and guidance system for a more fulfilling life.

When you need an attitude lift to re-kindle your resilience: Breathe in the feeling of inner ease and calm for a few minutes. While doing this, hold the feeling of genuine appreciation for someone, a pet, or something you care about. Feelings of appreciation have been proven to benefit our health.

Make a list of a few behavior patterns you would like to change to reduce stress and increase emotional balance. (Emotional balance slows down the burn rate of the energy we accumulate from sleep.)

Positive Self-Talk

Have a sincere and honest self-talk about the attitudes and behaviors you listed. The most meaningful self-talk occurs when the heart – your true self – speaks to the mind. If you feel yourself drifting into mind processing, make a genuine effort to ease back into your heart space. If indecision or self-doubt begin to surface, simple realize that it is your old way of thinking. Breathe ease, and gently return to focusing on the change you truly desire.

Applications for Inner Ease

Identify daily activities, situations or interactions where you think breathing ease and taking a quiet pause could be helpful.

There are many situations that create stress in people’s lives that they take for granted because it seems normal. You can breathe ease in these situations and take charge of your energy. Here is a small list of important times for remembering to breathe ease.

  • Before responding to a vexing e-mail.
  • When overwhelmed with too much to do.
  • While stuck in traffic and running late for an appointment.
  • As your computer reboots.
  • While discerning important issues or choices.
  • When life’s challenges are coming in faster than solutions.
  • When you get caught in other people’s drama and can’t leave the room (breathing ease can help you detach from the energetics and not get pulled in).
  • During meetings – breathe ease for deeper listening, better comprehension, more patience and to stay emotionally poised. But if you lose your composure, breathing ease helps you re-center, especially if you get caught up in frustrations and judgments.

After you learn to breathe ease, you’ll find there are many situations where, while breathing ease, you can imagine that you are drawing in higher quality emotional attitudes which promote health, balance and self-security. Try breathing the feeling of nonjudgment, kindness, forgiveness, increased resilience, compassion, etc. Anchoring these positive emotional qualities has been proven to help transform stress on the spot, along with their wholeness health benefits.

Here is how Ashley created a Counterbalance by Breathing Ease and Taking Pause

Ashley arrived at her workplace and ran into Melissa. She immediately recalled how Melissa snapped at her during yesterday’s office meeting, Through inner self-monitoring, Ashley acknowledged that just seeing Melissa down the hall brought up a feeling of resentment.

Rather than allowing her energy to feed resentment, Ashley remembered to breathe calm and ease while taking pause to sense what her heart felt and might suggest. As she reflected on her awkward communication with Melissa, her perception started to shift: “Perhaps I didn’t communicate clearly with Melissa, as I was in a hurry. What if she was having a bad day emotionally? Then I started to remember my intention to shift from these lower type feelings quicker, because I know in my heart, that nobody comes out ahead when there resentment and separation are involved.”

As always, Ashley was amazed at the difference in perception when she genuinely connected with her heart’s discernment and guidance. As her heart feelings reopened to Melissa, she experienced the warm connection she naturally has with Melissa along with deep appreciation for her friendship.

The heart lights the straightest path back on the road when we spin out.

Practicing inner ease is not just for bailing out of stress, but for maintaining balance and harmonious interactions. Moving with inner ease is not inferring that you have to operate at the speed of a snail, nor is it a sleepy-time relaxation state. It’s about slowing down your inner body language – the mechanical mental and emotional reactions that cause mistakes and do-overs that we conveniently blame on others.

Take a few moments each day for breathing ease, inner-self monitoring and taking pause to sense what your heart would feel about matters, and what it might suggest – then jump on that like a Harley and ride wide open without looking back. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? Our hearts facilitate us like the new e-bikes: They assist you, especially up the hills, but you still have to pedal. But that’s fair.



Article courtesy of the HeartMath Institute
With contributions by HeartMath founder, Doc Childre