Free Lesson

Lesson 1: Stress: Choosing to Use it, not Lose it

Learn how to notice Stress before it becomes too stressful

The Stress Response

The physical response to stress is virtually automatic. It is the response that is activated in order to help you adapt and survive. It is this response that gets you out of bed in the morning, prevents you from being late to work, and lets you be accomplished and successful. This response enables energy to be expended in response to a wide range of signals to heal wounds, run marathons, survive traumas and meet nutritional needs. It is called, the Stress Response.

When the Mind Perceives a Challenge or a Threat

The Stress Response evolved to help you adapt to changes in your internal and external environments. When your mind perceives that you do not have enough resources to meet a challenge, it triggers physiological changes that produce the physical action that will help you adapt to the challenge. A well-regulated Stress Response is turned off once the challenge is met because the mission to adapt has been accomplished.

When the mind perceives that the challenge is not met, the Stress Response is not turned off. The consequences of experiencing prolonged Stress Response may be pathological and/or harmful. The system can literally breakdown, leading you to have health problems and alas, more stress.

Physical Changes to Overcome Challenges

So what are these physical changes that will help you overcome this challenge that you perceive you cannot handle?

  • Pupils: dilate
  • Blood vessels: constrict in hands and feet and gut
  • Gastrointestinal tract: shuts down. Slower movement of the colon, etc.
  • Reproductive system: Shuts down.
  • Muscles: become tense, especially back, neck, jaw, shoulders, etc.
  • Immune system: more inflammation, clotting and allergic reactions (over time poor immunity against infections or cancers)
  • Cardiovascular system: increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Respiratory system: increase in breathing rate and inflammation
  • Brain: Less complex thinking, more fear related behaviors initiated and hyper-alertness and arousal
  • Mood: loss of serotonin and other neurotransmitters cause depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders

What happens when the Stress Response isn’t regulated?

Since the Stress Response involves multiple organ systems, the mind and the body, when the Stress Response is not checked, it can cause the mind and the body to become out of balance, resulting in

  • psychological and physical problems, such as:
  • heart disease and hypertension
  • inflammatory disorders
  • metabolic disorders like diabetes and osteoporosis
  • musculoskeletal problems
  • respiratory problems

the list goes on.

Other problems include: depression, memory loss, and immune compromise (more susceptible to infection or possibly tumors) autoimmune disorders, etc.

In other words, most mind and body problems result from the Stress Response system being out of balance.

The Fear Response

At the base of most stress is fear = fear that the species will not survive; fear that you are not good enough or do not have enough; and fear that you will not be enough or have enough in the future. This is what I call the Fear Response.

It is essential to remember that the Fear Response itself is necessary and effective in maintaining and adapting to life. It is only beneficial, however, when it is short-lived and when the Fear Response can be deactivated or contained. The goal is to use the Fear Response only when you need it, to maintain absolute and total awareness at all times so that you can catch the Fear Response when it is activated and turn it off before it becomes harmful. You use the Fear Response to motivate action, not stop it.

Finding Your Balance

Build awareness of stress by opening all your senses…

Awareness Exercise: Witnessing Your Physiology

The purpose of this exercise is to help you build awareness, to become more aware of your thoughts, physical and emotional feelings, attitudes, actions and behaviors, negative versus positive feelings. These are your signals, alerting you when your Fear Response is active. Your unconscious mind uses these signals to communicate with your conscious mind so that you can be motivated to perform the action that will resolve the stress or problem. Your body will also let you know when it really likes or appreciates something too, via a positive sensation and associated emotion.

  • Listen to what your body is telling you.
  • LISTEN to the Audio Awareness Exercise
  • Imagine a stressful situation vs. a loving situation.
  • Now think about a situation that causes you stress, fear, anxiety or anger, and notice the sensations in your body, particularly your chest, the tension in your muscles, your mind and the inner drama that begins.
  • Then think about a situation that gives you the feeling of awe or love like a sunset, a beautiful experience, your child walking for the first time, etc.
  • Notice the difference
  • Recognize that you have a choice to do something about stress.

The Relaxation Response = Meditation

The Relaxation Response is a deep state of rest that involves a passive mental attitude to an absorbing repetitive focus whereby the chatter in the mind is turned off and the arousal of the Stress Response is turned off as well.

The Relaxation Response or meditation has the opposite physiology of the Fear Response. If the Relaxation Response were a movie, it would be like watching the Fear Response movie go backwards. By eliciting the Relaxation Response, the mind and body may be able to handle stress better (Benson, 1971).

There is no one or right way to elicit the Relaxation Response. It is what feels right for you. Just as a pill can have a bigger effect the longer you take it, the effects of the Relaxation Response become more profound the more you practice it. The body and mind start remembering what it is like to be back in balance.

The Love Response®

When you infuse love into the meditative experience you have shifted into the Love Response®. The Love Response® provokes the same positive physiology as the Relaxation Response but differs in that the experience of receiving or giving love helps the mind and body heal at an even deeper level.

The Physiology of Love

From a neurobiological perspective, it appears that your ability to love and to bond stems from certain brain circuitry and the release of hormones and proteins called peptides. These influence the bond created between parents and their infants. With Love, the release of these hormones and peptides mediates pleasurable sensations and positive emotional states that encourage attachment and bonding, enhancing the desire to stay together and support others.

The memory of pleasurable sensations and rewards afforded to you by Love is stored in your brain so that you will look forward to doing it again. Such a memory is ingrained in your brain as a positive outcome, as if a challenge has been released. This is the opposite of a memory of a negative outcome, where the challenge has not been released, such as occurs when the Fear Response is not turned off. The more often the Fear Response is turned off, the less it is likely that our body will break down physically, mentally and emotionally and the more likely that we will remain healthy and happy.

Love, as opposed to fear, initiates positive emotions and a positive physiology that counteracts the effects of the Fear Response. Love heals your negative beliefs. Love heals the old wounds that are triggering your Fear Response. Love heals the unconscious mind.

The SHIELD®

When the Fear Response is activated, it is implied that you feel helpless, alone, unprotected or loved. If you felt Shielded or protected, loved and safe, you would feel differently. You can make your own shield to help you shift out of your Fear Response and into your Love Response®.

The SHIELD® is a mnemonic and a visualization.

  1. Say to yourself SHIELD, and light all over you or the sun shines a warm golden light upon you). This is a SHIELD® of love and protection. Then follow steps 2-8:
  2. S: Stop, slow down, or slide to a halt
  3. H: Honor what you are feeling or experiencing. You are not somehow bad or wrong
  4. I: Inhale
  5. E: and don’t forget to Exhale

Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.

You may choose to close your eyes (not while you are driving!) or keep them open. Just pay attention to your breath as it enters and leaves. By focusing on your breath, you automatically remove your awareness from your negative thoughts, calming the Fear Response.

You may focus on a number, counting to yourself with each breath, from 10 down to 1 or repeat a positive verbal command.

When you are done, you can examine how you feel and repeat the exercise if necessary.

  1. L: Listen: listen to your thoughts, feeling, and sensations. Ask where the old wound is or what it is about. Ask yourself: In what way is this situation reminding me that I am not enough or do not have enough?
  2. D: Decide: You can decide to shift into the Love Response by using the antidote to your problem, like using a positive verbal command or the healing visualizations you will be learning.

One example is simply imagining the face of someone you love right there with you, comforting you and holding you.

  1. Now repeat this Positive Verbal Command (PVC): I have enough, I am enough.

The goal when saying a PVC, either out loud, or silently, to yourself, is to reprogram your subconscious mind to start believing a more positive belief that will help you better regulate the Fear Response. It differs from an affirmation as it is a positive statement that is associated with a positive experience and therefore a positive physiology. So when you repeat the words you stimulate positive physiology and your Love Response® will be stimulated. Repeat the words when you are feeling good and especially when you are feeling badly.

The SHIELD® Meditation in action

When you do this meditation, notice how your thoughts, sensations and feelings change.

Close your eyes and think about the situation or person that causes you stress, anxiety or fear, noticing how your mind and body feel.

Then call out for your SHIELD®. Follow instructions 1-8 of the mnemonic. When you get to 7. Decide, repeat your PVC: I am enough, I have enough.

The golden light shining down upon you will begin to shine into your body. It will accumulate in your toes and feet, move up your calves and shins, to your thighs and hips, to your pelvis, up your spine, into your abdomen, into your chest, down your arms into your hands and fingers, up to your throat and neck, into your face and mind.

You are so full of love and light that it shines out of your pores. And you can see now that there are loving faces or beings standing around you, the light from their hearts connecting with the love in your heart.

Keep repeating your PVC and notice how you feel.

Homework

  • Consciously pay attention to when you are in stress
  • Practice awareness/witnessing your physiology while walking, eating, showering, speaking, etc.
  • Try to use your SHIELD®  when you are in stress or witnessing a negative physiology within yourself
  • Repeat positive verbal command of the week as often as possible, especially during your SHIELD®.
  • Practice holding the SHIELD® imagery in meditation of minimum of 10 minutes once or twice a day (can listen to AUDIO).
  • Remember to be authentic with your feelings. This is for you!


The Love Response Online

  • Welcome
  • Choosing to Use it, not Lose it
  • The Love Pyramid
  • The Heart Connection
  • Shifting from Fear to Trust
  • From Anger to Compassion
  • From Judgment to Acceptance
  • From Half to Whole
  • From I to We

Download Lessons as pdf

Lesson 1:

Choosing to Use it, not Lose it

Lesson 2:

The Love Pyramid

Lesson 3:

The Heart Connection

Lesson 4:

Shifting from Fear to Trust

Lesson 5:

From Anger to Compassion

Lesson 6:

From Judgment to Acceptance

Lesson 7:

From Half to Whole

Lesson 8:

From I to We


Download Audio Files

Lesson 1:

Awareness Exercise
SHIELD Meditation

Lesson 2:

• The Love Circle Meditation

Lesson 3:

• Observing Your Emotions
• Awareness of the Heart Wounds
• The Healing: Opening the Heart

Lesson 4:

• Awareness Exercise: Trust or Distrust?
• Healing Distrust Meditation

Lesson 5:

• Awareness Exercise: Examining Anger
• The Healing: Filling with Compassion

Lesson 6:

• Awareness of Judgement
• The Healing: Perfect Just as You Are

Lesson 7:

• Breath Exercise
• Awareness Exercise: Examining Lonings
• The Healing: Love to Infinity Meditation

Lesson 8:

• Awareness: Examining your Expectations
• The Healing: Love Radar Meditation