When tension starts, one surefire practice will help you get centered again

One of the most widespread problems of modern times is what is often called the “pressure syndrome.” Certainly most of us are all too familiar with the high-level tension seemingly built into life and work, causing stress and all sorts of compound problems of mind and body.

Why Stress Feels So Significant

There are many situations in which we may typically respond with stress: a multimillion dollar financial crunch for a business executive; an accumulation of bills to pay with the often inadequate take-home pay of the average worker; two term papers due on the same day for the student; a make-or-break audition for a musician or actor.

When pressures exceed our limits, creativity disappears, errors multiply, and new challenges have to be met with tired replays of old strategies. Life becomes jittery and unpleasant, and subject to a wide range of physical ills.

This word stress is heard so often today that it would almost appear to be some new disease. As a matter of fact, the early caveman trying to live in a world dominated by giant creatures and unpredictable elements probably experienced great stress. No, stress is nothing new.

But the thing that is becoming more and more widely accepted is that the “stress response” actually frustrates the flow of life and thus is at least a partial cause of most physical ills, perhaps all of them. Today, whether the physician or the metaphysician is talking, the advice may be the same: “Let go of stress!” But the question is “How?”

Where Stress Dwells—and How to Reshape It

Actually, the answer is as close as the creative use of the imagination. Stress is not produced by things that occur. It is the thought and feeling about them that gives that gnawing, head-in-the-vise feeling.

There is an old adage: “When things get tight, something's got to give!” “Something has to give” may not mean some dire explosion or catastrophe but may imply something to do. Know that your good flows from within, so give way.

One of the most important things Jesus taught was that the only problems you ever have are in your own mind: “One’s foes will be members of one’s own household” (Matthew 10:36).

If you become irritable, tense, and easily overwhelmed, what you need is not a coffee break, but a prayer break, a time for silence.

No matter what happens out there in the world, or even on your doorstep, all that really counts is what happens in your own mind.

When you get your thoughts centered at the still point within and begin to see your life as a giving experience, then you control the giving, and no one can take that control from you.

The One Solution to Stress

If you become irritable, tense and easily overwhelmed, what you need is not a coffee break, but a prayer break, a time for silence. Right where you are—at your desk, at the kitchen sink, even driving your car—take a few deep breaths to establish the image of life glowing from within.

Whisper to yourself: I am free from tension, stress and strain. Then with your vision sharpened with the concentric perspective, go on your way doing what you are doing.

This simple process of getting centered within is the finest strategy for coping. There is one fundamental that I feel we should call to mind often: You always have a choice! In everything that happens to you, you have a choice. You don't have to get angry. You don't have to be fearful. You don't have to become jealous.

You have a choice, whether to curse the darkness or bring a light, whether to engage in fretting or letting, whether to experience tension and stress in the face of things or keep centered in the poise and strength of the Christ mind within.

It is important to establish a habit of taking time at the beginning of every day to get centered within at the still point: Reflect on the realization that life is a giving process, from within outward. What will be the result of such a daily discipline? You will walk easily through any and all experiences without stress.

Watch your pressure points, and when things get tight and something's got to give, give way and let the creative flow unfold in your life in healthful, prosperous, and fulfilling ways.

Excerpt from the Unity booklet, Simple Living: When Less Is More.