Are you aware how chronic stress is messing with your body and mind?

Go drink tea

Are you feeling stressed out? 
Having a hard time falling alseep at night?
Feeling restless, overwhelmed, maybe worried? 
Constantly looking for distraction in your smartphone?

I guess many people feel this way.

In case you want to know what actually happens to the human brain and entire body under stress when we keep pushing ourselves over the limit constantly, than I suggest watching this little short animated lesson provided by TED Ed.

Chronic stress is messing with the brain and it’s actually changing it for the worse. It’s a downward spiral that needs an active counterweight to bring it back to normal. That’s our very own responsibilty and an act of self-care.

Hormons are blinding our perception, pushing us for a while until we don’t feel our “normal” self anymore. Than e.g. enduring silence becomes a struggle. Going to sleep becomes a struggle. Paying attention becomes hard because we are impatient — with ourselves and others. A simple thing such as sitting still on a park bench for half an hour without doing anything such as reading or playing with a smartphone seems harder than running a half-marathon for many young people today.

When I am teaching people about stress and mindfulness in workplaces I often bring up my grandma. She survived World War II, lost her home when she was 16 and her hometown Dresden was bombed to the ground in February 1945. Later on she raised 9 kids and had to bury 3 of them until today. She had to throw out and divorce her husband, because he was of no help to the families life. So she raised those kids alone. Later on she married again, the man that I know as my grandpa. She had to bury him too a couple years ago.

Not an easy life, right?

Grandma grew up in Germany before WW2 and lived her adulthood through the socialist era of East-Germany GDR until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and Germany was reunited. Our family was neither political nor Christian or religious.

My grandma never had any belief or particular religious view that helped her to stay sane throughout all the stress and suffering she endured. But she had an ability that kept her sane and turned her into a resilient and compassionate human being:

Grandma always was able to sit in a chair or a park bench and do nothing than just that — preferably outside in nature. Resting and gazing. Not talking and being silent for a while. We maybe call that “meditation” today, for her it was a normal act of self-care.

Soon she is going to turn 88. Doctors say her body age is 75. She is mentally and physically fit. Grandma still lives alone not depending on help. Hearing her loud belly laughter always fills me with joy and makes me laugh too. I recently asked her about her ability to be silent like that and she said:

Yes, I am still doing this. In the early morning or late evening when it’s quiet in my neighbourhood I go out on the balcony and sit in the chair. I listen to the wind, the birds, and so on… and I am simply enjoying this doing-nothing. I look into the trees and than I don’t have much thinking. Things get very quiet inside. I always did that. It’s so very refreshing! I always needed to do this for my health.

Nowadays people don’t do this anymore. They are so busy and hectic. Everything is so hectic and fast. It’s not good for people if they can’t stop for a while. If you can’t appreciate the green trees and blue skies while just sitting in a park… that’s a bad sign for humankind.”


We constantly need the hustle and the buzz. Full calender means “ I have meaning in life. I am someone. I am wanted and appreciated. I have goals and I am a high achiver. “

Really?

When we are too busy then resting and sleep gets harder. But we keep numbing and coping, with drugs, pills, alcohol and all sorts of distractions like casual sex, shopping, and so on. That’s the road to successful burnout. And recovery from burnout really takes time, sometimes years.

So better slow down now…

  • Start with sitting in a random park bench.
  • Do nothing but resting and gazing for maybe 15-20 minutes.
  • Turn off your phone. Forget that shit. Resist the force to check it.
  • Tune into the present moment. Just listen to the sounds around you.
  • Sit with a straight back. That keeps yor energy flowing along your spine and opens the chest for breathing fully.
  • Ground yourself. Feel your butt and your feet.
  • Breath deeply and slow into your lower belly 
    (Inbreath < belly pops out like a ballon / Outbreath >belly goes in towards the spine).
  • Listen… Listen deeply to your surroundings.
  • Let the thinking come… and let it go.
  • Don’t worry about anything.
  • Relax and let go of any control of the situation.

No, you are not loosing anything. You are not missing out on anything. You are right were you are supposed to be. Here and Now.

Return to being simple again. Return to being content within. Return to being aware and with clarity and sharp senses. Return to an awake mind rather than being half asleep, distracted, impatient and pushed by stress hormons.

Discover simplicity again. Discover your True Self again.


Mu Bul is a Zen teacher (Senior Dharma Teacher/ Kwan Um Zen tradition) and Yoga practitioner. Also working as life and career coach focusing on unlocking your potential with meditation and mindfulness training for greater focus, resilience and stress reduction.