Acute stress as practice fodder? Looking for advice

Robert McLune, modified 7 Years ago.

Acute stress as practice fodder? Looking for advice

Posts: 255 Join Date: 9/8/12 Recent Posts
I'm looking for some advice from experienced folks.

I'm steadily working on simple daily sitting -- noting abdomen or breath. I'm also trying to be more mindful throughout the day. However, I'm currently going through a period of very intense work-related emotional stress. It's tangible physically -- breathing, blood pressure, headaches, sleeplessness etc. Now I'm seeing a cardiologist about some other some general cardio issues, so I'm not concerned about serious health issues. But what I'm wondering is if I can take advantage of the stress to help my practice.

Actually, on the one hand I think my practice is already helping the stress, because although I'm definitely experiencing a lot of unpleasantness, I'm actually not that "stressed" psychologically (I think that's how best to put it). In other words, while my body is clearly responding to the work events -- not a lot I can do about that except process them wisely -- the events are not "getting to me" as much as they could have years ago, pre-meditation. And even during meditation, I've observed that despite the severe unpleasantness I'm still able to simply note the stress-induced stomach knotting, shoulder pain and so on and then get back to my breath (although I won't pretend it's not challenging[1]).

But those are all ways that my practice is improving my response to stress. Isn't this also an opportunity for me to use stress to improve my practice? After all, if you really want to learn to box, you have to have a sparring partner. Should I regard stress as a meditation sparring partner? If so, any suggestions as to how?

Or do I just do what I've been doing, and treat the gut-wrenching sick feeling, the neck tightness, the headache, and the overall this-is-shit-in-a-shit-sauce-ness like any other sense data -- simply note them as they arise and then get back to my breath?

thanks for any advice!
R

[1] In one sense, it's really awful. I rank this as among the worst emotional wringers I've ever been through. But there's something weird about it that I've never seen before. Although it's well nigh vomit inducing, it's not in the same way it would have been pre-meditation. In the past, I doubt I'd have even been writing this, yet here I am, typing away, and although I "feel" awful *right now*, at the very same time it's as if the awfulness is, in some way, not mine. Does that make any sense?