The Tao of Stress: How to Calm, Balance, and Simplify Your Life

The Tao of Stress: How to Calm, Balance, and Simplify Your Life by Robert G. Santee

Book: The Tao of Stress: How to Calm, Balance, and Simplify Your Life by Robert G. Santee Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert G. Santee
Tags: Non-Fiction
    The Path to Wuwei
    The manner in which wuwei becomes the norm rather than the excep-
    tion is a continual process of pruning, letting go, forgetting, and releasing artificiality, barriers, and hindrances. It is a process of emptying out—
    essentially simplifying life cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. As wuwei increasingly becomes the norm, we become increasingly natural in our behavior. We become more harmonious with the earth, the sky, and Tao.
    Wuwei is initially developed by focused and direct practice, con-
    sciously directing our attention to the artificiality, barriers, and hindrances we need to eliminate from our lives so we can be free from chronic stress. We need to behaviorally remove them, be they physical or psychological. While this starts us on the road to wuwei, it is through the practice of meditation, moving and still, that we fully develop wuwei and root it into our lives.
    Not Interfering with Ourselves
    Not interfering with ourselves means just that. It is eliminating beliefs, thoughts, judgments, and behaviors that activate and maintain the fight-or- flight response. All chronic, absolute, rigid, black- and- white thinking, including whining, complaining, criticizing, moaning, demeaning, and judging, is threat based and interferes with our physical and psychologi-71
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    The Tao of Stress
    cal functioning. This kind of thinking drives many behaviors that sabo-tage our health and well- being.
    We each need to take an honest, nonjudgmental look at ourselves
    and ask, “What am I doing that compromises my own physical and psychological functioning? How am I getting in my own way?” Although
    there are many areas where we interfere with ourselves, in this chapter I’ll focus on three specific areas where we often interfere with ourselves: eating and drinking, sleeping, and exercise.
    Mark, Gary, and Damian’s Story
    Mark, Gary, and Damian were all in the same large psychology
    class at the local university. Mark was always focused in class and loved learning. Even though Gary tried to pay attention in class,
    he was anxious and spent a lot of energy doubting himself.
    Damian didn’t pay much attention in class; instead, he usually
    played games on his smartphone.
    A few days before their midterm exam, Mark and Gary
    decided to meet at the library to study. They invited Damian to
    join them, but he said he didn’t think he needed any extra study
    time and preferred to hang out around with his friends. Gary was
    anxious about the exam, and as he and Mark studied, he kept
    saying, “I’m not going to do well. This stuff is too hard. I can’t do it.” Mark tried to reassure Gary, telling him that he was smart and capable of learning the material. They studied together for a few
    hours and then parted ways.
    For the next two days, Mark studied for about an hour or so
    each day. Mark was also in a religion class that had included a
    discussion of Taoism early on. He had appreciated the concept of
    wuwei, or not interfering with yourself, and had continued to do a simple breath- based meditation he’d learned in that class,
    practicing it each day for about ten minutes. In addition, he went out for a brisk walk each day for about thirty minutes. The day
    before the exam he studied, meditated, went for his walk, and
    thought about wuwei. That night he went to bed early.
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    Not Interfering with Yourself or Others
    Gary continued to worry about the exam and doubt himself.
    Each day, he spent four hours studying for the exam. The night
    before the exam, he stayed up half the night studying.
    Damian continued to hang out with friends and play computer
    games. He hardly even looked at his psychology textbook. The
    night before the exam, he crammed for an hour. Figuring he’d put
    in enough time studying to pass the exam, he went out with some
    friends and stayed out late.
    On the day of the exam, Mark felt at ease. Sitting in the
    classroom with his mind

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