Stress, it's killing us! Or is it?
How would our lives be improved if we simply changed our perspective, accepting stress as an ally, rather than as an enemy to be vanquished?
Sometimes, Nature forces us to grow when we'd prefer to remain stagnant. Self-improvement is not solely the realm of mystics & saints seeking out such enriching activities. It comes and finds us all, while we are comfortably living amidst our happy ignorances. We typically respond with an ungrateful attitude at being interrupted, and throw our remaining energies into fighting this growth process.
We are all presented with a (truly) generous offering: 'Grow or Die'. The Divine Energy has a strong tendency to overflow the container into which it flows, and it would behoove said vehicle to rise, meeting these energetic demands, or else experience the shattering effects of unpreparedness.
There is no shortage of sage advice to prevent the pain & discomfort of growth, but sadly, due to our modern obsession of placing our full faith & confidence in certified 'experts', combined with the undying appeal of Existentialist principles, we are fairly well insulated from the (decreasing) danger of encountering actual, unadulterated wisdom.
We feel & experience the ever increasing pressures of growth in numerous ways, such as physical discomforts & pains, psychological inconveniences & crises, emotional upheavals & turmoils, etc. Our reactionary instincts, analogous to the physical impulse of bracing before a collision, cause us more harm than good.
Humans have a tendency to leap between two poles, on the one hand, attempting to drown out the silent voice in a flurry of madness & self-destructive behaviors, and when that reaches a crisis level, to try desperately to calm ourselves down through various de-stressing techniques. There does exist a middle ground, rarely visited, yet intrinsically more authentic and reflective of who we truly are inside.
A certain level of stress ought to be embraced, and likewise, a cool head & warm heart must be maintained throughout the process, in order to truly optimize our growth potential. We need to realize that some amount of discomfort is unavoidable, and rather than complaining about it, be grateful for the obvious indication that some sort of happening is ongoing (for if we felt nothing, could we consider ourselves human/alive?) We could even self-regulate our (spiritual/emotional/etc) evolution, by contemplating the course of development, and making required adjustments far before tensions reach apocalyptic proportions.
Despite seemingly infinite evidence to the contrary, it is entirely unnecessary to experience emergency situations & catastrophes to advance our personal transformation. We could simply follow the guidance of that still, small voice that encourages us to do what is best for ourselves, and avoid all this chaos. Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to ignoring that voice, that some of us wonder if it is even still speaking to us. Have no fear, it has not departed.
It would be wise of each of us to devote a daily portion of time to actively being silent, setting aside our thoughts, worries, opinions & self-concepts, calmly waiting for this advice of the heart to influence us. This is the ultimate purpose of meditation, to check in with that part of ourselves which has more wisdom than our everyday personality expressions. Ultimately, this voice will become loud enough that one can hear it even amongst the din of modern living conditions.
Although it is referred to as a voice (and I am merely following millennia of convention in calling it so), it may not be audible in the conventional sense. Have no fear, there is no danger of mistaking it for a schizophrenic delusion. In modern terms, we commonly refer to this voice as the 'conscience', and in fact, it is our personal seed of 'conscious'-ness. To the mystic or the religiously-leaning, it is the 'Voice of God (or revelation)', also specifically the voice of the Holy Spirit, in Christian theology.
The more we begin molding our behaviors and attitudes in alignment with this Divine voice, the less discomfort we will experience during periods of intense growth, this growth, in turn, enabling us to be more capable of reflecting Divine behaviors and attitudes. It is a cyclical process of evolving our physical, emotional, mental, etc. bodies to better accommodate the Divine energies.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotations, from one of the more illuminating thinkers of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis. Please adapt his concept of God to match your own personal conception of Divinity. Even if you do not agree with his religious convictions, there is great wisdom to be gleaned from the following insight:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself." ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity