Coping with Stress and Change

by Jyotish (John) Novak

From Meditation Therapy for Stress and Change

We must learn to be more accepting of life. Life is a school and we draw to ourselves the events, circumstances, and relationships we need to help us grow. Every problem gives us with two choices – to expand or contract our consciousness. Do we become defensive and self-protective? Or do we see challenges as opportunities to become stronger, to learn and expand. If we contract our hearts, we experience pain, not because conditions have made us unhappy, but because pain is the inevitable result of excessive self-focus. Have no doubt about it, a contractive attitude will produce stress. On the other hand, when we relax and release unnecessary attachments we automatically experience happiness and fulfillment. Eventually, through meditation, we can discover an underlying joy that doesn’t change under any circumstance. And expansion of consciousness is the essence of spiritual growth.

To deal with stress successfully, we must learn relaxation and non-attachment. Physical relaxation helps release muscular tension. With this in mind, I’ll be teaching you deep relaxation in a few minutes. Physical tension, through mind-body feedback, also adds to our mental tension, and the most dangerous tension is in the mind. To relax the mind we need to develop attitudes of acceptance and contentment.

Learn to accept that whatever comes to you is for your ultimate good. The truth is that we attract situations to help us learn needed lessons. Think, for a moment, about people and circumstances in your life that you are trying to push away. Mentally say, "I accept you exactly as you are." Better yet, try to say, "I am grateful for you and for everything in my life." This will create the mental space necessary to learn what life is trying to teach you. Once we have learned our lessons, we find that conditions change automatically. Acceptance is about learning to live with faith, not fear. It is understanding that we will attract to ourselves exactly what we need. The law of karma states that, good or bad, you will get exactly what is coming to you. Don’t dwell on past events and or future plans. If you stay in the here and now you will realize that you can be happy just as you are. One of the greatest sources of fulfillment is to accept yourself, with all your strengths and weakness. Then, don’t dwell on yourself, but think more of others and their needs.

I was once on a drive in the mountains with my teacher, Swami Kriyananda. During a blizzard our car went out of control and smashed into the side of a bus. Kriyananda calmly got out, walked around to the front of the bus and realized that it was headed to our destination. After arranging for our car to be towed, we climbed on to the bus. The passengers were sympathizing with us over our loss. Kriyananda said, "You know, in a week I would have gotten over any sense of loss and be perfectly happy. Why wait a week? I’m happy now!"

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