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Stress Relief - An Industry For Self Inflicted Stress
Stress is a big business in Western society. We live what we regard as hectic lives, that prime us with stress. That stress, to those who recognise its presence, requires relief. We are competitive beyond true need, and that too pumps more stress into us. We live lives that are devoid of spirituality, and that allows stress to infiltrate deeply into our daily existence, often to roam uncontrolled throughout our minds and bodies.
In our material world, it is no wonder that stress relief has become big business. Suffering stress has become habitual in Western society. Mostly, it is self imposed, a fabrication of the modern Western way of life. By and large, much of the stress experienced in Europe, North America, and Australia, is self imposed. There are signs too that in other rich countries, such as Japan and South Korea, the same thing is happening.
Almost 5 years ago I left England to live in the Philippines. My time here has taught me a lot about stress and its existence in England and other Western countries. My learning has come at three different levels:
1. Personal Stress Relief
I recall with total clarity my first visit to the Philippines, and especially my first visit to Palawan, where I have now settled. I remember the wonderful feeling I had, of being alive, in tune with myself, and totally stress free. Like many in England, I had lived for many years in a zombie like existence, trying to earn money, and working for other people. Often commuting long distances and for many hours, I had gradually lost my sense of existence as an individual. Some relief to that had come when I was able to start my own business with my ex-wife, and then to move to a beautiful location on the south coast. That relief did not last long, as divorce and all its ramifications brought a resurgence of stress.
When I arrived in Palawan, in the second part of a three week stay in the Philippines, that had all gone. Making a decision to come and live here permanently was easy, and it was done with complete clarity and full awareness. Talk about instant stress relief.
2. Stress In Perspective - Genuine Stress Of The Truly Poor
Stress has been around, no doubt, since early man lived in caves. The stress of survival. That is what true stress, or rather justified stress, is about. The need to survive, to hunt for a meal, to defend against attack.
Most families in the Philippines are very poor. I mean, really poor, not what we in England regard as poor. A poor person in England would seem very rich to many Filipinos. Most Filipino families live in housing conditions that would not be considered fit for a garden shed in England. While starvation is not generally an issue, malnutrition is widespread. Many families do not know from day to day if they will have enough food. If anyone in the family is ill, many will not be able to pay doctors fees or hospital fees. That is a basis for justified stress.
There is genuine scope for stress here in the Philippines, and of course it does exist. Unlike in England, though, it is not usually self inflicted at an individual level. Most people still manage to be hospitable, to smile, and to give thanks for what they do have. The generosity of the poor always impresses me. It is a humbling experience to witness.
Living here has made me feel guilty for my own country that it is riddled with stress, and that stress relief is such big business. The stress back home in England was unnecessary, and born out of greed, materialism, and a complete focus on self. I am grateful to the Filipinos for helping me to put that into perspective.
3. Spirituality In Stress Relief
Here in the Philippines, the people as a rule have open hearts. They are by nature spiritual, as are many Asian cultures. Many Westerners would dismiss such open heartedness as naive, primitive, innocence, and ignorance. It is those Westerners, though, who are living through ignorance. Ignorance of themselves and what their humanity is capable of.
I have come to believe, from observation in both England and the Philippines, that through allowing your spirituality to flow naturally, stress is reduced. Exploring spiritual avenues aids perspective in one's own life. Spiritual avenues are a major source of stress relief, partially by the positive reaction they can bring within an individual's life, and partially by filling gaps in an individual's existence that would otherwise be flooded by negative thoughts, and thus by self inflicted stress.
Much of the Western stress, I believe, comes from a disassociation from a substantial part of our own humanity. Western life has become based on a minimal part of the human character, a tiny proportion of the scope of the human brain.
In other words, Western life has become full of emptiness. Much of the self inflicted stress stems from that void.
Roy Thomsitt is the owner and part author of http://www.routes-to-self-improvement.com
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