Transforming Stress through Intention

bevs blog

The Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy approach to transforming life stress relies on a continuous cycle of awareness, acceptance, and choice.  When we become aware of being in life experiences – aware of all our sensations around the experience whether physical, emotional, or any other kind – then we gain insight into ourselves.  We begin to notice our patterns of interaction with life and the people in it.  When we accept the truth of what we notice, we create opportunities to choose consciously how we want to respond in similar situations going forward.

I recently had an opportunity to witness this simple but powerful process completely transform the nature of what would ordinarily have been a painfully negative period of stress in my life.  If you have ever moved across country you will be able to identify with the myriad ways stress is triggered along the way.  It starts at the very beginning with the decision to make the move – to move or not to move, weighing the pros and cons, considering impacts on friends, family and work/business, and the many what-if scenarios that could complicate each of these considerations – if a family member’s health deteriorates or a new baby is born, for example.

Once the decision is made, planning begins.  Maybe it is more accurate to say that an attempt at planning begins since it’s easy to get caught up in the chicken-and-egg dilemma – sell first? buy first? rent instead of buy? rent instead of sell?  It’s enough to make one dizzy.  Then there’s the house hunting – live in the city, in the country, or in the burbs between?  Will they allow our four dogs?  Will they let me continue to offer yoga out of my home?  And what if I make a wrong decision anywhere along the way of all this?

And if you haven’t bought a house since the market crashed four years ago you would not believe how the mortgage application and closing processes have changed! Check out the for a reverse mortgage calculator. Each document executed is accompanied by separate sworn attestations CYA-ing that you were informed of each clause contained in that document and that you furthermore understood the information provided.   The stack of paper to sign at closing is measured in inches.

As if all that isn’t enough to discourage the average person, the next step is packing.  Even though we had only been in our old home five years, somehow we had 30 years’ worth of stuff accumulated.  No matter how much we packed, there seemed to be even more left to pack.  Where is the science in that?  And have you priced movers lately?   I won’t even go there.

Ok, so I rest my case on the stress of moving.  My past patterns when up against this kind of performance stress were to raise my blinders, steel my focus, and push my way through the ugliness like a bull in a china shop, creating pain and havoc all around me as I tore down barriers to my success, most of them people.  Not this time.

This time I set an intention to flow through the change rather than fight with it over controlling any part or final outcome.  We were lucky in that our move was voluntary and we had no constraints around the time it took us to get there.  So whenever I noticed my body tense up with anxiety about things “going right” or a new hurdle falling into my path of perfect execution, instead of hardening my resolve (steeling myself in a true visceral sense) against changing the plan I let nature take its course.  I held my intentions – big ones (like where I wanted to move to) and little ones (like what day I wanted to arrive) and I let the universe decide how to get us there.  The difference in my ability relax into and enjoy the journey were nothing short of profound.

When it came time for me to announce to my yoga therapy clients and students that I would be leaving, rather than callously distance myself from their angst at losing their teacher to assuage my own sense of guilt at deserting them, I cultivated a caring, supportive, space of gratitude where we could express our mutual appreciation for having been on our journeys together.  I used the experience to teach gratitude for life’s lessons whatever form they come in.  And while still sad to part, the sadness was surrounded by the joy of having known space together and authentic well-wishing and promises to maintain contact.

When it came time to pack and busy schedules and overwhelm got the better of both my husband and I, rather than get cranky and short and sparring at each other with barbs of annoyance and blame, I granted my husband the space he needed to experience his stress in his own way.  I detached from owning – or judging, enabling or fixing – his experience and held him in genuinely loving kindness.  And while his experience still involved an occasional tantrum or flying household item (aimed at his own frustrations, not at me), each were followed by his expressed appreciation that I let him be him in all his truth and glory.

Even through our actual transit across country, packed to the brim (and beyond) with the remnants of our home that didn’t make it into the moving pods (scenes from Grapes of Wrath swimming in my head) and topped by four anxiously curious dogs (shedding profusely), I somehow managed to keep my intention to flow through it all intact.  Day-to-day interactions with strangers who held power over such crucial decisions as whether to accept our dogs into their hotel room or add water to my venti-6-pump-whole-milk-chai-latte that might have thrown me into a diatribe about quality business management on a prior day seemed inconsequential in the context of my intention.  In fact, when approached with my full attention and acceptance of their participation in my flow, each of these otherwise strangers turned into co-creators of my adventure.  Each interaction added another color of thread to the tapestry of my experience, whose theme matched my intention to flow with and thereby enjoy each moment.

All of that from a little intention.  So what I noticed from this experience is that when I take the time to notice what’s happening in my body and in my life, and when I add to that noticing acceptance of what is and intention to be different, then I grant myself the space to make conscious, deliberate, intention-driven choices.  I have heard it said that intentions have a funny way of coming true.  It has always seemed a little bit magical in that respect.  But in truth, as evidenced by my little experiment of moving with intention, there is a practical, even scientific, process behind that contention.  One that I find quite do-able and effective and that I learned through Phoenix Rising.  When I stay present, notice my experience, accept it and form an intention to guide future choices, my life flows quite easily where I want it to be.  Instead of putting blinders on and pushing my way through life leaving carnage all around me, I enlist my universe to help me co-create the me I want to be and I discover support all around me.

If you want to learn how the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy process may help you transform your stressful life experiences click here to find a practitioner, class, group, workshop, or training program that fits your life flow and helps fulfill your life intentions.  You will be glad you did.