When I was a teenager (about 17, I think) made myself physically sick from stress and anxiety that I ended up at my doctors office (it was the first, but sadly, not the last time I would find myself in this situation).
When describing my symptoms to the doctor, and trying to explain how my mind speeds up and thoughts get out of control, my doctor put his hand up, palm in my face and said STOP!
He then proceeded to explain to me that this 'coping mechanism' was the key to overcoming stress.
"Simply tell yourself to stop thinking"
"Dr. C, telling me to stop thinking is the same as asking me to stop breathing - impossible!"
He then advised that I take up running...
My point to the story is that I have suffered from stress and anxiety for many years. And for many years, I have sought tools to help my overcome these feelings, to no avail.
I am pleased to say that on my life coaching journey, I am finally learning new techniques for dealing with stress and just like chocolate, when I got a little taste for it, I craved more.
And that's how I found myself at a Meditation course run by the Ganden Kadampa Buddhist Centre on Saturday.
In our modern world, it seems whatever our lifestyle we will at times experience stress and anxiety. So much of the stress and tension we experience comes from our mind and many of our daily problems, such as relationship difficulties and ill health are caused or aggravated by this stress.
The course, from 10am - 4pm was led by a Buddhist Teacher who was surprisingly relatable.
Her teachings were followed by group meditation sessions and discussion.
What resonated with me the most was her definition of stress -
Stress is tension, caused by what we want vs what is happening.
Our minds can be rigid and inflexible.
But to reduce stress and find peace in our lives, we need to resemble a willow tree - We must bend with the wind (aka tension) and adapt to the situation.
This makes perfect sense, if you consider another (more rigid) tree, which will snap under pressure.
It's rigidity is it's weakness.
In other words - Flexibility equals strength.
And a flexible mind is the key to success.
We get to choose how we react to situations - A situation itself is not stressful - It is our expectations of that situation.
Realising that I am the creator of my own thoughts, and that being conscious of the thoughts I have, gave me such clarity and empowerment.
I don't need to stop thinking at all!
But when I do need a quiet moment to clear my mind, I now know the power of meditation.
That is where my mind can find peace.