Saturday, May 9, 2009

Stress: The Inner Game

"The cause of most stress can be summed up by the word attachment. [The ego] gets so dependent upon things, situations, people and concepts within its experience that when change occurs or seems about to occur, it feels threatened. Freedom from stress does not necessarily involve giving up anything, but rather being able to let go of anything, when necessary, and know that one will still be all right. It comes from being more independent—not necessarily more solitary, but more reliant on one’s own inner resources for stability."

The words of a Zen master? Actually, W. Timothy Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis, a very interesting read even if you don’t play. Consider applying the notion of attachment to one’s performance in a game like tennis, or any game. In giving up the need to win, the implications of losing and so forth, we are freed up to perform without stress.

Can you apply it to your life? If you can give up the idea of things being as you expected them to be, wanted them to be, thought you needed them to be, does it free you up to relax without stress?

Disengaging doesn’t mean we’re not interested, motivated or working hard. It simply means that we’re not getting caught up in emotional entanglements and self-criticism that move us away from our true goals. Whether at work, at play or in relationships, there are many applications of these ideas.

I hate to be pedestrian, but having just seen (and enjoyed) Yes Man, I am reminded of Terence Stamp’s life coach from hell. He does make the good point that you have to start somewhere in your life and start saying yes to opportunities. I’d argue it’s a way of disengaging and letting go of some of your long held and dearly beloved beliefs about the way things should be.

So try saying yes to opportunity and no to stress.

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