Deconstructing Stress: Learning the Art of Heart Spirited Living. Written by Susan A. Lipshutz, LCSW
(January 2011)

Think of how often you hear or say the word stress as a means to convey, "how we are doing" in daily encounters. The term "stress" has become so over used in our culture, that while signaling that one is aware of being out of balance, it tends to push us further into a state of reactive living. The reality is that what may create stress in one person's life, may be a non-event in another. Further, every person has their own way of reacting to different triggers based on the accumulated patterns wired into the brain and body from a lifetime of experiences.  And finally, living in a dynamic fluid world, means that change and challenges are a basic part of life.

 Learning to view stress as part of life means we accept that life is dynamic and ever changing. Finding a way to move through our world from a neutral open perspective, requires that we put the pause button on the reactive patterning and breathe into a new viewpoint that supports a fundamental understanding: how we think is how we feel. But how we think is informed my many facets, mostly from prior experiences and cultural mindsets. While we may believe the mind to be rational, in fact it is more influenced by external stimuli then the authentic heart, which holds the key to our deeper knowing free of fear.


This change in our approach to life is possible when the desire to cultivate inner peace becomes more important than the drive to keep up with the pace others have set for us. Unfortunately, it is often a stronger stress event, such as illness, accident and or loss, which shakes up the trance state of reactive patterns. It takes courage to shift from the perpetual passive /defensive cycle to that of an active mindful state of the choices, when we see the world from a creative heart spirited point of view. 

There are many options available to assist one in the untangling and reweaving of this interconnected system of thought, feeling and action. Whether revealing the roots or original events associated with stress responses, such as old traumas and family beliefs or finding tools that create greater self-awareness to counter balance the reactions; the key to gaining control is to surrender to the flow of the process. It is the natural and spiritual life philosophies that calm the body, soothe the mind and open the creative forces to provide simple solutions to our complicated lives. Try replacing the internal reactive thinking from, "I fear or I worry" with "I wonder or I hope" and see what problem solving options and resources become available. Discovering that how we view a situation can impact the outcome is a radical and liberating breakthrough. Having the courage to actualize these insights is one definition of self-love.

Try these tips to transform stress aches and cycles: 

1. Keep a simple stress journal for one week:

When you have a sense that you are under stress, write down where you are, what you are experiencing (thoughts, emotions and body sensations) and who is with you. But, do not read the journal until the end of the week. Review the entries and allow any patterns or awareness of stress triggers, such as times of day, people, tasks or underlying beliefs to come up. Next, connect the dots into the stress map with informed awareness. Sometimes just being more aware of triggers can enhance a sense of order and greater choices to tweak daily habits.

Pick up a recovery, wellness or prayer journal in Alma today and get started!

2. Become an authentic communicator:  

Every time you start to use the word "stress," replace it with a word that conveys a more expressive and accurate description of your experience. This is a challenging, yet very revealing way to get quick insights into your current situation.

3. Remember to take time out to breathe:  

Take a breathing break at least three times a day. For about five to ten minutes, remove yourself from as much noise and chaos as you can and take slow deep breathes; this is helpful as one of the biggest reasons we get anxious is due to a lack of oxygen. When we are too mind centered, we forget we have a body as well as an intuitive guide within our hearts that has a great deal of wisdom and truth. When you finish your breath break, visualize yourself with a golden screen allowing you to interact in your world, while the screen catches all of the toxic intrusive energies.

4. Focus on the positive and count your blessings:

Buddhist teachings have a saying, "whatever the sky looks like, the sky is always blue". This invites a centering in the comfort that beyond the current situation exists a more present realm of clarity and calm. 

Please join us to learn the Art of Heart spirited Living with Susan, during a four part workshop series at the Raby Institute. During our four sessions together we will:

  • Understand stress triggers, our emotional soft spots and mind myths.
  • Unveil our hidden stress story to honor and release its grip.
  • Explore and shift fears that block creative problem solving.
  • Access deeper levels of strength, inner knowledge and philosophies that offer a greater sense of personal trust.
  • Develop a relationship with intuition and guidance that supports a more expansive and creative viewpoint to navigate through life.
  • Appreciate stress as a positive catalyst to push us in the direction of growth and healing that we were unwilling or unable to do on our own.
  • See more details in the Classes and Workshops section of the Newsletter.

Read more about Susan and the Deconstructing Stress Workshop on our website.. Reserve your spot by calling the Raby Institute at (312) 276-1212 or via email at



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