Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I am giving up stress for Lent

I'm serious.

Not that we have entire control over stress, as I know all too well given the fall's two house intrusions and various job, church, financial, and other matters of recent preoccupation.

But I wonder what it will be like to be mindful of what I contribute to stress and how I respond to outside stress.

And yes, stress can get in the way of both our relationship to God and our relationship to other people. (The recent issue of Newsweek notwithstanding.)

Lent: a time to breathe more deeply.

10 comments:

+clumber said...

I found a number of years ago that by not listening to NPR (as much as I like their news) on the way to and from work I was able to feel more relaxed and calmer... and of course, more naps helps too!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Excellent intention! I will pray that you are successful--and that you get lots of naps.

Love,
Doxy

Doorman-Priest said...

Now if I could give up being with teenagers at work and at home...

Ken said...
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Ken said...
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Ken said...

Lent is also the time to speak what you feel in order to free up the breathing apparatus and the damaged soul. Therefore:

Welcome to the culture of murder.

You know that at least as well as I do. Stress kills. I believe it is intended to do so. It is the human perversion of instinct and reactions to threat. It is threat in the name of control. David Mamet did not tell lies in Glengarry Glen Ross about the corrosive effect of a culture of Gimme and Eff You. Nor did Joseph Heller make up stories when he presented an ad agency in Something Happened where the boss demands to see men bent over with fear from spastic colons. Fear, you understand, makes you a producer.

It was the first RC Archbishop of New York, "Dagger John" Hughes, who said of his priests "I won't have any men in my diocese who I can't control!"

Stress is indeed not a God-given attribute of the human spirit. Fear, however, may very well be: and the corporate principalities of business, education, and church are goads to pushing us to and beyond our limits by playing to the flight/fight response that is the response to what we call fear.

Stress can be made of fear if it's given in controlled doses. We are pushed unmercifully to "produce," meet quotas, forced to adhere to rules of administrative happy horseshit. And instead of revolting against our environments, usually because we're "mindful" of economic motives, we internalize our dismay. We regard ourselves as cowards and prostitutes who "do it for the money" (it's not really a lie), but we turn against ourselves via the aforementioned spastic colons, insomnia, alcohol and drug addiction, sexual rampages (as long as an orgasm lasts you're not worrying about your next car payment), spending money we don't have, and temper tantrums that hit the people nearest to us because we can't tell our bosses to go screw themselves (can we)?

I don't believe anyone but ourselves cares a damn about our relationships, either to God or to other people. All that matters to the stress-maker is that you grab the oar and keep pulling.

I know: breathe. That's not a choice, it's autonomic. What about the choices we can actually make?

Welcome to Lent, then.

Jane R said...

Actually, Ken, breathing is the only function in the body that we can affect, change, or to some extent control, unlike all the other functions, which are only autonomic. Yoga teachers know and teach this. So do voice coaches - and others. (When I help people with public speaking, lectoring, et al., I talk about this. One can physiologically interrupt nervousness in public speaking with slow breathing from the belly.)

So that's where I begin, breathing. And mindfulness about breathing. Just that. For starters.

Of course I also meant it metaphorically, but I am taking it literally because the one helps the other.

Jane R said...

And see chapter 4 of When in Doubt, Sing.

P.S. Ken, I have a copy of the paperback edition sitting here for you but just haven't gotten to the PO. I will, in the next month or two...

Ken said...

Your book, Jane. My soul in silence waits....

Jane R said...

You have a copy of the hardback, I know. Same book. Just without the new preface, the HarperEffingCollins typos, and the beautiful new cover design.

I just got paid so I think I'll be able to send it soon. (We are in midterms so getting to the P.O. is not in the cards for the next few days. Also, we are having a snowstorm!)

P.S. The word verification thingie is "fretwive."