Dealing with Stress: Live from the Heart


Heart in leafYesterday I attended a presentation by Brian Keating, a wildlife expert and anthropology professor. He talked about and showed videos on animals such as the narwhal, the penguin, the elephant, and the beaver with infectious enthusiasm. He spoke in such a juicy way that I wanted to brush off my hiking boots and get out there–right now!

He got me thinking about things that help me feel really alive–to feel really present and completely in the moment–and loving the moment I’m in. And I thought about how busy our lives generally are. So many of us are attached to our cell phones–talking on them, tweeting, checking Facebook, or texting–at the same time that we’re with loved ones, or doing the myriad things we have to get done during the day.

At the end of the day we may or may not have time to really slow down and just be. We may not have made time in our days to do something that makes us feel really alive or to spend some time with someone giving them our undivided attention.

If we have days, months, or years like that, what impact does it have on us and those around us? How do we deal with stress when we’re not having much fun?

The Miracle

Suppose you go to bed tonight, and when you’re sleeping, something really bizarre happens. It’s like a miracle. Your life changes, but because you’re sleeping, you have no idea it’s happened.

When you wake up, you notice that you are living from the heart. You live fully, completely in the moment and feel a contagious enthusiasm for life! Your loved ones, friends, and co-workers want to be around you to soak up even an ounce of your energy.

What would you be doing? Suppose you could see your life on an Imax screen, what would you see? What would you hear? What would you feel?

After you finish reading this paragraph, take a moment to close your eyes. See the colours, textures, shapes, and sounds. Feel what’s happening with your body. Would you feel wind blowing through your hair? Would you feel something else? What would you be doing? What would it be like to be experiencing things deeply and passionately?

Who would notice you doing these things? What would they notice about you that would tell them you’re living your life juicily? What difference do you think living like this would make to stress?

Living from the Heart Day-to-Day

At this point you may think, okay it’s nice to think of and visualize these things, but life is what it is. I can’t do exactly what I want 24/7!

What’s something you can imagine doing over the next week that would be a sign you were living from the heart, even in the smallest of ways? Be tangible here. What is something you can do that will be a sign that you’re allowing your heart to be touched by an experience?

As an experiment, why not keep track of the things you’re doing that are signs you’re living from the heart on a daily basis. At the end of each day, write or draw what you did. Pay attention to what difference doing this makes both in how involved you feel with your life, and how stressed (or not) that you feel.

What else is helping you to really pay attention and connect meaningfully with your life?