Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Stress 0.0. Experimental Program of Meditations for Stress Reduction

By José Jesús Vargas Delgado

Submitted: November 2nd 2019Reviewed: January 24th 2020Published: February 14th 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.91347

Downloaded: 64

Abstract

Welcome to the 0.0 Stress program. A practical trip integrator to reduce stress to its minimum expression. In this chapter, we will deepen our transpersonal experiential program, which can be very useful for anyone who experiences any signs or symptoms of stress such as anxiety, irritability, muscular tension, burnout, apathy, restlessness, headache, fatigue, digestive problems, concentration difficulties, worry, overwork, substance abuse, smoking, eating disorders, sleep disturbances, or simply feeling overwhelmed by events. The Stress 0.0 program can also help you deploy your potentials and cope with the stress associated with living with the disease, chronic pain, and ailments such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, and migraine among others many.

Keywords

  • mindfulness
  • meditations
  • mind
  • stress 0.0 program
  • health
  • well-being

1. Introduction

Stress remains, despite the considerable research done around it and anxiety and the numerous approaches outlined to address it and reduce it, an inevitable aspect of our lives. Stress forms and has always been part of the human condition. We are all plunged, without escape, in the uncertainty of each moment, the problems, the disease, the old age, the death, and the impossibility of controlling the events around which our life revolves. And the situation reaches an extreme where we feel isolated and alienated from the natural world, without knowing how to establish contact with others with life intelligence [1].

Technology and an authentic tsunami of information have accelerated, in recent years, the pace and complexity of our daily lives. Electronic devices, email, whatsapp, and social networks keep us connected 24 h a day, 7 days a week, exposing ourselves to a real flood of activities and daily demands. Our brain is overwhelmed by the acceleration of the rhythm of life and an authentic bombardment of information that exposes us to frustration, worry, panic, resistance, self-criticism, self-demand, and patience [1].

Before going deeply into the essence and development of our innovative program, it is convenient to conduct a comparative study of other forms of meditation and your meditation program, analyzing the merits and disadvantages of each of them.

  • Primordial sound meditation. It is a technique of meditation focused through mantras, rooted in the Vedic tradition of India. A mantra is the manifestation of a phrase that verbalized, sung or whispered repeatedly helps us reach a state of relaxation and internalization that favors the meditative state. They are not randomly selected phrases, but they are sacred sounds that wise men and masters of antiquity used for their practical meditation, because they possess great harmonizing power. During meditation, it is necessary to repeat this mantra cyclically silently, because it creates a frequency of vibration that allows it to be placed in a place away from the ruminant noise of the mind, reaching the frequency of calm and full consciousness [2].

  • Zazen meditation. It means sitting meditation. It is based on non-judgmental observation of breathing and on neutrally observing thoughts and experiences as they emerge and dissolve through the mind and observe related sensory experiences. The essential focus of the breath is in the belly, instead of the nose as in vipassana. The posture is much more demanding in Zen meditation than in Vipassana, with special attention to the raised, non-tense spine, the chin shyly leaning forward and the hands placed in a resting position present on the belly. The eyes should always be open, with a low look, and in vipassana, there are no strict guidelines for the eyes, although it is usual to keep them closed. Zen meditation is recommended for those who already add hours of meditative flight [3].

  • Transcendental meditation. Its origin dates back to ancient India and each person is offered ad hoc a personal mantra used for vibrational qualities, to help calm the mind. Although the goal of meditation in both forms is similar, there are quite a few differences, including the mantras themselves, and how they are selected, the instruction of meditation, and the recommended time to meditate [4].

  • Metta meditation or benevolent love. Metta meditation, or benevolent love, has its meaning in unconditional goodness and affection. This style of meditation also has its origin in Buddhist teachings, mainly Tibetan Buddhism. As scientific studies show, compassion and kind and loving meditation has proven to be particularly efficient in fostering empathy, positivity, acceptance, and compassion for oneself and others. Anyone with low self-esteem, high levels of self-criticism, and a desire to be more empathic with others can benefit from this practice [2].

  • Kundalini meditation. Thanks to this technique one awakens his kundalini energy, located at the base of the spine. When this energy is released, rises, and travels through the spine, it leads to an experience commonly known as awakening kundalini, which ultimately leads to enlightenment. Kundalini meditations may include breathing techniques, mantras, mudras, and chants to harness the power of the unconscious mind. It is an energizing way of awakening the presence of our being [5].

  • Chakra meditation. A chakra is an energy center in the body, we have seven of them, and each one located in a different area of the body, and each one associated with a different color, word, sound, and energy purpose. Chakra meditations can be very powerful, especially when they are focused and connected with one element in the physical or emotional body at the same time. Many chakra meditations use sound, specific hand placement, and visualization techniques to connect with the energy nadis and their healing pranic vibration [5].

  • Tongle meditation. This type of meditation is Tibetan Buddhist and is characterized in that the person who practices it connects with their own suffering in an effort to fully accept and overcome it. Our culture teaches us to avoid suffering and flee from it, quite the opposite that tonglen meditation does. This kind of meditation teaches you to handle the difficult situations of life, because it allows you to look into the eyes of suffering, developing an attitude of openness, abandoning negativity and victimhood. It is also called giving and receiving meditation and cultivates compassion and empathy through breathing and visualization [4].

In this context, it is not surprising that many people worry or become depressed so much that, in an attempt to recover the lost inner balance, they are forced to request or receive medication. And although this treatment may sometimes be necessary to recover health and well-being, it is also important to cultivate internal self-care resources that help us cope with stress, pain, and disease with heart intelligence [6].

In the chapter, we will describe the transformer program Stress 0.0 that is aimed at anyone who lives with stress, anxiety, pain or illness. In this way, the commitment of integration and internalization of the program in everyday life will not only help you reduce stress and anxiety to the minimum expression, but it will become an inspiring route that can guide you with a clear mind toward achievement of a healthier, fluid, calm, and compassionate life [6].

The four essential pillars of our chapter are the following:

  • Compassion about our emotions and stress. The Stress 0.0 program allows, through compassion, to learn to respect the emotions caused by stress, in order to find some relief, accept, and remember important emotional changes in our lives.

  • Conscious focus on our body and stress management. Through a state of presence, it allows to learn to focus attention on the observation of the body, and on the bodily sensations, which produces a deactivation of the thoughts that generate stress, and a reset of the “trapped” mind.

  • Breathe consciously. With the current pace of life, we are not aware that we perform an incorrect and scattered breath. We usually breathe in an accelerated, superficial, and unconscious way. The appearance of different common health problems in large metropolises, such as stress and anxiety, make breathing exercise even more difficult.

  • Observation and understanding of the nature of our mind [7]. Learn to relate with discernment to thoughts that cause stress, or that arise as a result of them. Understand the nature of our mind and cognitive phenomena. We cannot expect to modify the nature of our mind, but we can become observers of the mind and avoid giving it material for its “game” of generating suffering and stress.

We strongly recommend that when you undertake our chapter and this journey of deep understanding, do so sequentially because your organization meets a structured, well established, and effective program. In this way, the focused readings, self-inquiry questions, internalization practices, and conscious action proposals of each day of the program will not only help you reduce the stress and anxiety generated by the challenges that life gives you. Save, but they will also consolidate your own practice. Good trip Stress 0.0.

2. Embrace with compassion to stress

Stress is a topic of great popularity because it affects a large number of people. It consists of the automatic and natural response of our body to situations that are threatening or challenging. In general, we tend to believe that stress is a consequence of circumstances external to us, but in reality, it is born in us, depending on the way we evaluate events or our ability to cope with them. When stress is prolonged or intensified over time, our health, our performance, and even our personal relationships can be affected [6].

One of the most persistent deceptions of the mind is to think that the origin of our dissatisfaction lies outside of ourselves [8].

One of the most effective ways to dissolve stress with self-awareness comes through our ability to accept its presence and be able to embrace our anxiety with compassion and cardiac intelligence. Paul Gilbert defines compassion as the deep awareness of the suffering of oneself and other beings, along with the desire to help avoid it. From this concept, we find self-pity and its effects for stress management. Self-pity implies affection, kindness, and self-understanding when suffering is experienced in a stressful situation, instead of self-criticizing, blaming or denying one’s pain. It consists of treating ourselves as we would treat a helpless child, or a very dear friend. The opposite would be destructive and guilty self-criticism [8].

In general, for the great majority of Westerners, it is more difficult to give affection to oneself than to give it to others. The gesture of embracing our stress in a way that projects self-pity is in a complicated situation. But for some people, this practice is practically impossible. Some live it as a weakness or a risk of becoming indolent. Others do not consider themselves worthy to receive affection from others (frequently, because they did not receive it unconditionally in childhood). If this practice is very complicated for us, an effective trick is to start the practice of compassion toward friends and, when we are giving affection to people we want, we can include ourselves in the image and give ourselves affection as well [9].

Kindly embrace your stress through a compassionate gesture over your body to relieve its symptoms.

The practice of compassion that we propose to dissolve stress seeks to regulate stress by activating the satisfaction, calm, and security system. In self-pity, there are certain types of gestures, related to hug and contact, which release oxytocin, that is, that reassure us.

The main triggers of self-pity linked to stress are three [10]:

  • Soft body contact.

  • Vocalization in soft tone.

  • Feeling of warmth on a physical level.

We invite you to start the compassionate gesture that can be very useful to calm down in times of stress, or simply to feel better at any time.

  • Put one or two hands on the heart or in the central area of the chest.

  • Put one hand on the heart or in the central area of the chest and another on the abdomen.

  • Hug yourself and caress your arms.

  • Hug yourself and caress your back.

  • Put both hands crossed on the lower belly.

  • Cross your arms and caress yourself without hugging.

  • Slap your shoulder with one hand or another with both.

  • Stroking your legs at different levels: twin thighs.

  • Cradle your face with both hands open.

  • Stroking the back of your hands, rubbing your hands; touch the fingertips of both hands.

  • Caress the cheek.

  • Stroking the hair of the head.

  • Stroke your forehead.

2.1 Practice: embrace with your breath

Put yourself in your meditation posture. Ensures a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely [9].

Now your mind will bring to the present and to the screen of your mind as much compassion, kindness, and affection the image of a stressful and complicated situation that you are living.

For this I will count from 5 to 0. And when I reach 0, you will see that image:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, … and 0. Look, feel it.

And now send love, affection, light, and compassion to all the stressful situation you have in front of you: people, objects, decoration, environment, sound, environment, expressions, color, … Feel how you embrace that situation. Help yourself with your breath full of compassion to send affection.

At the end, let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which we embrace a stressful situation with compassion [9].

3. The secret of stress 0: impermanence and not true

Any mental or emotional phenomenon, or any stressful phenomenon, if we do not potentiate it (thinking about it, rejecting it or fighting with it) and simply observe it dispassionately, as an external phenomenon that belonged to another person, will disappear.

This is the great secret of emotional management oriented to the dissolution of stress in our being. Any thought or emotion that causes us stress or anxiety, regardless of its content and as terrible as it may seem at the moment, eventually disappears spontaneously in a short time. Of course, it will have intense moments of influence but it has an internal process and has its rhythm from within [7].

It has been proven that there is an internal cycle of emotional tides. The cycle usually extends over a very determined time like the tides in the sea. Specifically every 45–90 min it has been investigated that there is a change in cognitive and emotional tide and also a change in the frequency in the processes that generate stress. That is to say that the mental processes, any thought that we can have on the screen of our being is absolutely impermanent. It has no identity to stay in time. The important thing is not to strengthen it with our attachment or our internal and anxious struggle. Curiously, the more we try to fight with an emotion, a feeling in our body, or a thought, the greater the permanence in our being. In some way, we are altering the nature and life cycle of each thought.

Impermanence. Every 45–90 min there is a cycle change in cognitive and emotional tide.

But the important thing is that when we perceive an intense tide in front of us, we do not try to generate ruminant thoughts about its appearance, nor fight with it. It is a tide of accepting the present moment with a clear mind and observing it in the most dispassionate way possible. We invite you to perceive it as an external phenomenon that belonged to another person because finally the stress will disappear.

Therefore, why do we need to change it for a more positive one? Why do we want to know how that concrete thought originates? Why do we have to fight with that stressful thought or emotion tried to rationalize its dissolution? Why fight with that emotion or feeling that I have settled in a part of my body?

Our goal and our proposal are to wait for them to disappear without getting caught by them. In addition, other characteristics of the nature of our mind are that thoughts, or cognitive phenomena are not true and of course stressful processes are not [2].

Not true [2]. Stressful cognitive and emotional phenomena are not true. What we think is not the external reality, it is not what happens. If we think we are “useless,” it does not mean that we are. If we think that the world is “horrible” or that we are unable to “speak in public”, or that such a person is “evil” does not mean that it is so, since many other people see it differently. If we can separate reality from our thoughts, we will not act on the basis of the erroneous information that our scattered mind tells us.

3.1 Practice: just watch and breathe

Take conscious contact with your body. Ensures a good rooting sitting in the chair.

Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Watch now the process of how your stressful thoughts appear that you are living in this moment in your life. Watch the process of how they stay in your mental space, and how they disappear in a few seconds, without you doing anything.

You just stay. Breathe consciously. You might even perceive on which side of the mind they appear: above, below, on the left or on the right. Do not want to prevent them from appearing, accelerate their course, or want them to disappear. Let them follow their natural process like that of a tide. You just keep and hold it. Breathe consciously. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which you observe the mind without attachments through conscious breathing.

4. Enlighten your being

When you feel stressed you have a much better chance of focusing on what’s going wrong. This is how our brain works under the influence of stress: it looks for threats and usually overvalues them. Bring to your mind the last time you saw someone stressed: did he keep calm if something went wrong, or exaggerate the negative, making a mountain of a grain of sand? Our brain in stressful episodes loves to make hyperbole of the perception of reality. The discursive and narrative mind appears deepening and expanding the difficulties as a gigantic magnifying glass.

It is important that our intention in this path of stress healing is to incorporate a positive attitude of self-care and self-discovery that illuminates our whole being. But it is important an intention of light in everything we are, in our essence. Deep acceptance of our whole being, and of course our stress. You may be going through a phase in your life with many important difficulties and may not even think of anything positive. But I encourage you to try to strive with full acceptance to put the spotlight on your positive things [11].

Deposit your attention on all the good things you have. Enlighten your goodness. To look for the good things in your life is to illuminate each one of your steps with creativity, reminding you as a mantra the infinity of good things that you have in life. Probably if you are going through a time of great stress, you may wear dark glasses that do not allow you to clearly discern the reality, or the sense of the anxiety situation you are experiencing. We enter a phase of negative cyclical thoughts that are fed back (rumination). Our proposal in this process is to put the intention to see things of a different color and not believe at all what our mind tells us at all times. A way of perceiving with life intelligence [12].

Putting the intention in our goodness and in all our positive things is an emotional passport that allows us to enter our program with a creative and high energy attitude. A way of becoming aware of where we are and of our essence as being.

For this I invite you to answer honestly at this time, and realistically, to the following questions:

  • How are you in your best moments?

  • How are you when you feel relaxed?

  • Why do you feel grateful now pampering?

  • What makes you happy, now or in the past?

  • What excites or excites you?

  • What is going well in your life right now?

  • What makes you enjoy now or in the past?

The awareness of our goodnesses is a way of realizing the light that our being has and our infinite display of potentials. By making ourselves convenient. And even verbalize them, or write them, we get a process of anchoring, recognition, and materialization of all our infinite goodnesses [13].

4.1 Practice: cradle your stress

Take a high position of dignity and presence. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Now we invite you to bring to your mind an image of anxiety that you are living in this moment. Let it appear smoothly. Next you will place your arms and hands as if you were cradling a child. Now deposit that stressful situation in that place and start feeling how you are cradling that situation. Try to feel a lot of love and kindness about the gesture and above all that appears at that moment. Accepting fully. Breathe that gesture very consciously and support that process.

  • You can dedicate 20 breaths for each cradled situation.

  • You can repeat the process several times, or include new narrative scenarios with the same frequency of the degree of stress experienced.

At the end, let the image dissolve through your breathing and thank yourself for this experience in which you cradled your stress with kindness and deep acceptance [9].

5. The four pillars of your temple: feet, back, hands, and face

Traditionally, the body has been denied in the West, which has given the mind greater preponderance. The mind has been considered as the place where intellectual life and imaginative and narrative life occur. And, of course, it has been thought that the entire process for the dissolution of stress has its focus exclusively on the mind. And for that reason always in the West, it has been thought that the body is simply a vehicle directed by the mind [14].

Oriental culture has always maintained a different position, considering the body as important as the mind for the balance of the individual. Current research supports the hypothesis of the enormous importance of the body in our psyche and in our way of integrating, remembering, and being able to cope with stress and anxiety in a healthy way [15].

It is shown that interoceptive perceptions (bodily sensations) modify our thoughts and emotions in an important way and vice versa. In fact, there are studies that show that, if the usual posture is modified, simply by inserting a pencil in the mouth and introducing the smile, one finds the most fun experiences and narration (for example, reading a comic story) that if not this modification has been made.

The body, our posture, and breathing, therefore, are formed as an essential variable when it comes to emotion and the perception of thoughts that generate stress. From the perspective of mindfulness, which consists in being attentive to the present moment, the body and the breath are keys because they are always in the present. Therefore, they are the preferred anchor points. Emotions and stressful thoughts will not be useful as anchor points because they are found more frequently in the past and in the future, than in the present moment. For all this, directing attention and connection to our body resets the mind allows it to leave the ruminant loops and the processes of stressful thoughts stop. What we usually do is lose ourselves in the stressful thoughts associated with emotions, which generates more emotions in an endless cycle. Diverting the focus of our attention to our body and the bodily sensations of stress-laden emotion allows us to deactivate the associated negative thoughts and soften the nuclear bodily symptoms of stress in emotions. A wise process of integral growth throughout the body [16].

  • Feet: first pillar of your temple. When you stand up, be aware of the posture. Perceive the rooting of your body to the earth. Become aware of the firm contact of your plants on the earth and the anchoring it entails. When you are sitting, perceive how your feet are fully connected to the earth. It is a channel of connection with our essence. Feel how they are open and relaxed, which will induce a corresponding psychological sensation.

  • Back: second pillar of your temple. Your back should remain straight, but in a comfortable posture. The back determines our emotional level. Imagine that an invisible thread pulls from the crown and lets it wide and open. It is the pentagram of emotions so try to be expansion to hear all the nuances.

  • Hands: third pillar of your temple. It is important that they are not tense. Rest comfortably on the legs to avoid discomfort on the shoulders. The tension of the hands is considered an indicator of mental tension and a space of manifestation of stress.

  • Face: fourth pillar of your temple. It is important that there is no tension on the face as usual. The forehead, eyelids, and lips should be relaxed, as well as the area where the tongue rests on the palate. All are areas of frequent tension in times of stress.

What posture tends to express your body to life? How could you open up to take different positions? How is stress expressed and manifested in your body in the face of stressful situations? What are the feelings that you have predominantly maintained this last week?

How do they express themselves through your face and body posture? How is the usual posture of your feet, back, hands, and face, in a stressful situation? What could you do to bring more awareness, connection, and unity in your temple in the posture of your hands, back, feet, and spine?

5.1 Practice: breathe with your body

Update your posture and check the conscious presence of your body. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Now you are going to shift the focus of your attention to your hands and you are going to start bringing your breath to your hands. It is as if you breathe with them. You can start with a right hand and take three breaths in your right hand. Then change the focus to your left hand and breathe there consciously in three breaths. If your mind gets distracted and goes somewhere else, bring it back gently to the breath and that area with which you are breathing.

Now I invite you, you will shift the focus of your attention to your back, and you will begin to bring your breath to your back. It is as if you breathe with them. You can start with the lower back and take three breaths. Then change the focus to the central area of your spine and breathe there consciously in three breaths. Finally, climb to the upper part of your spine and breathe consciously with that area. You can repeat the complete cycle of hands and back several times. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breathing and thank yourself for this experience in which you consciously breathe with your body [9].

6. Planet 9 “do” and planet 0 “be”

We currently consider that there are two basic ways of functioning of the human mind and that it has a direct impact on our relationship with stress and anxiety. Mode “do” and mode “be,” which are characteristic, but not absolutely specific to Western and Eastern thinking, respectively. They are based on totally different premises [13].

  • Planet 9 “Do”: Western thinking in way of doing, Planet 9, will be based on the belief that happiness is outside of us. We feel that there is something to be achieved: money, power, social or family relationships, recognition work position, success in a project, and we think directly, causally and simply, that when we have it, we will be happy. The history of all those who reside on Planet 9 in the “do” way is the continuous search for goals/objects that we think can make us happy: a university career, a prestigious job, a couple, children, possessions, trips, reputed social position, … [13].

The problem is that when we get any of these elements, even something as desired as the jackpot of the lottery, studies confirm that, within 6 to 12 months, individuals return to the level of happiness before it was achieved the object. The conclusion is that we are involved in an endless process of pursuit of happiness, but we never reach it in a stable way. Of course, this continuous and insatiable pursuit of objectives is one of the main causes of the enormous stress we are subjected to in today’s life. Planet 9 “do” is associated with the vision of the “biographical self,” because the objectives we set ourselves are associated with the labels or descriptions of ourselves that we have developed throughout life and with which we identify. The label of 9 as a way of representing “way of doing” [13].

  • Planet 0 “Being”. Oriental thought is based on the fact that happiness is not outside of us, but within. There is nothing to pursue, nothing to obtain. Just remembering through the cardiac intelligence of our planet “being” Everything is in the present, which is the only important thing, since past and future do not exist. The way to reach this state of mind is through the approach of acceptance, which is considered the main quality that develops with mindfulness. Acceptance is a concept that generally repels Westerners because they confuse it with resignation, a characteristic associated with our Judeo-Christian tradition. But the resignation happens in the future, it would consist in the resignation to act in the future because it will be useless. On the contrary, acceptance always occurs in the present. From planet 0 “Being,” we fully accept stress, but we do not resign [13].

It is based on the idea that what is happening in the present, since we cannot change it, we must take it as it has been delivered to it without avoiding or denying it. On planet 0 “being,” we propose to dive unconditionally into what the present brings. Accepting the present does not mean that we like what happens, but that we accept that we cannot change it. Become fully aware from which planet you are living every moment and from which planet you are interpreting the stressful processes you are living [13].

6.1 Practice: breathe your song

Find now your attentive posture of formal meditation. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely.

Now put on a song that you like and listen to it with great attention accompanying while you put your attention on the breath. Try to feel the sounds, the words or the rhythm without thinking about it, as if the music were generated within you, as if you were one with it, as if you were breathing with it. Accompany the rhythm of the song to your breathing, so that the whole song can be heard accompanied by your breathing fully consciously. Breathe the song consciously through your full presence without judgment.

At the end, let it dissolve and rest the process in breathing silently…

Thank yourself for this experience in which we hear conscious of the hand of our breath [9].

7. Experiential sailboat of your breath

If your mind chatter uncontrollably and your feelings spin like a soup in a boil, you must know that you are not alone. In our agitated and demanding modern society, permanently active, constant stimulation, decisions, and challenges provoke thoughts and emotions. And when we are in that anxiety situation, we have much more chance of reacting automatically (and uselessly) to the stressors of life [17].

An excellent way to manage thoughts is to use breathing. Resorting to the full attention of your breath to cope with stress may seem too simple, but I encourage you and invite you to try it before you judge. The calming effect is produced by the use of breathing to anchor you in the present moment [18]. And the more you use your breath to return to the present, the simpler, more transformative and more effective the method will be.

Take a moment to think about an anchor: its function is to prevent the ship from drifting. May your sailboat connect with the earth. The anchor is always prepared on the ship, and every time this sail leaves, the anchor goes with it. When the sailboat has to stop, someone throws the anchor into the water. The anchor is your breath, and it is always on the boat ready to land when you need it. Similarly, wherever you go, your breathing always goes with you and your potentials unfold with your conscious presence [19]. Luckily, you cannot run away from your breath or leave it at home when you go out to spend the day outside. Breathing always goes with you in all your experiences, night and day. What you can forget is to pay attention from time to time to the sensation of breathing. But whenever you want to make an experiential pause, you can focus your attention on the breath as an anchor to return to the here and now of your sailboat and your being.

Breathing is a fascinating facet of the human being, one of those unique functions of our ship, which can be automatic but also, in part, controlled and deliberate. The heartbeat, for example, is different. The heart beats day and night without stopping, but you cannot make it stop beating for even a few seconds; instead, if you can stop breathing [20]. Neither can you for digestion or your immune system. We invite you in times of stress to put all your attention on breathing. A way to connect with the most authentic anchor of your ship and your being.

Watch your breathing very carefully when you speak, and watch your breathing very carefully when you listen. Breathing is automatic and, at the same time, is under control. There are very few functional body functions so automated that you can also control. Almost all relaxation techniques make use of deep breathing. The reason is that breathing is closely linked to the body system responsible for relaxation. The feelings of relaxation almost always arise when you breathe slowly and deeply. Mindfulness about breathing is slightly different. During careful breathing, it is not necessary to control the rhythm or depth of breathing [21]. It is simply about paying attention to the breath as it is, without judging.

Experience great moments of stress to take your breath hand in hand, through your attention, with curious attention, affection, and presence. Observe and experience from within what happens.

7.1 Practice: the helm of your breathing

Connect now with relaxed attention to the awareness of your body. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Now you are going to intensify with curiosity the focus of your attention especially to your exhalation. And you are going to start exhaling more deeply than inhalation. It is not necessary that you be too much at the helm of your breath simply a subtle change so that the exhalation is the double time of the inhalation. Perform this process for 20 breaths, and then return to balance the helm of your breath and watch what happens.

Repeat the cycle, and experience the change in your frequency. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breathing and thank yourself for this experience in which the sailboat of your body calms through the extended exhalation [9].

8. The gratitude frame: whisper to your emotions

Surprisingly, the psychological investigations carried out around this phenomenon have concluded that in reality, the level of satisfaction with one’s life does not depend so much on the circumstances we live, nor on personality or character [22]. There is a more determining factor in our sense of well-being that we often forget: gratitude.

It is proven that being grateful has many advantages, the most important of all is that: Thankful people are happier especially practical in stressful processes.

We know that the so-called “reality” and how we interpret it are two very different things. What “happens” is not what we perceive, since all the experiences of our life we see through a particular “glasses” that interpret reality to “their way of seeing.” First, let us recognize that all of us wear those “glasses of seeing reality,” and then, let us assume that in general, these glasses work in a somewhat limited way.

Let us be honest: do we not tend to dismiss all that we can appreciate in our lives? [23]. Do we not have a strange facility to put our attention on what is inconvenient to us?

This trend is reflected even in the media, which constantly affect tragedies, problems, and catastrophes, almost completely ignoring the beautiful aspects of life that we can appreciate.

To begin to recognize the abundance of gratifying aspects that exist in our lives, we have to realize and recognize you in a very common automatism in us: “Not knowing how to receive.” We do not know how to take everything that life offers us for free, we do not think we deserve to receive what is given to us “just because,” without having to fight with blood, sweat, and tears for it [24].

We focus on everything we dislike, which could be “better” or otherwise, which leads us to a sea of meaningless complaints, to feel sad and discouraged. Stress scenarios are an absolute example of this process [25].

By expressing and feeling gratitude, we eliminate from our minds the toxic program of complaints. A program that induces us to feel victims of the stressful circumstances that we live, thus placing all our power in “the outside,” without taking responsibility for ourselves and our well-being. Every time we feel and express internally or externally: “Thank you,” we are creating new neural networks that are maintained over time, weakening those related to victimhood, discouragement, and complaint [25].

Have you stopped to observe the small details that life offers you “for free” throughout each day?: The gentle touch of the breeze in the morning, the gratifying smell of a flower, the sunlight, that dinner with your friends, the smile that suddenly someone gives you … if we pay attention, we can discover in every moment a multitude of details that really make us feel completely alive and awake, details, which we can thank [9].

We have many things and we do not notice how grateful we can be for them. Have you stopped to observe how grateful you can feel for having a roof under which every day shelter you, enough money so that all your basic needs are covered, of the food dishes that you enjoy every day? Do you appreciate that kind greeting from your partner at work, that unexpected hug, the interest of who asks you how you are or who gives you a complicit smile? Do you realize what you can thank for people in your life you can trust? Do you appreciate the mechanism of breathing in your body that moment by moment holds, the oxygen you breathe every moment, the gift of being alive here and now?

Even in times of great stress, if we look closely, every moment of life can be a moment of gratitude. For many problems we have, if we are attentive, it is impossible not to find something to be grateful for. In order to appreciate all the good that is in our lives, we have to be “present” in truth at every moment, and in this way, we will connect with the constant abundance and generosity of the life we live [24].

The first of these is that during today you keep the sustained attention to thank, either internally or externally, for every detail of the day to day that you can receive with appreciation [24]. Probably stressful processes do not allow you to experience it. Pay attention moment to moment to everything that happens that you can really recognize and value. If you are attentive to the infinity of things for which you can thank in more and more moments and more and more people, little by little you will begin to feel worthy of receiving the good and beautiful of life, you will contact the deep feeling that in truth, life is easier and kinder than you have sometimes believed [26]. By feeling appreciation and gratitude more and more frequently, everything you reject and for what you complain will have less strength; it will be transformed by the look that your new and wider “glasses of seeing the world” will offer you.

The second practice in this Zero Stress program that we propose is a powerful exercise that in a short time, entails major neurological and reprogramming changes for your mind.

It is about every night, before going to bed, you go through the “movie of your day” in your mind in detail. Recreate every moment you have lived in your journey since you woke up in the morning, focusing your attention on everything that has happened that you can appreciate. Get a notebook or notebook and every time you find a gesture, a detail, an event, a person for whom you can be grateful. Whisper your emotions with kindness and affection, connecting with the frequency of gratitude.

Experiment to treat you through a kind and loving treatment. In a state of calm and connection with you, you can experience what happens if you call yourself internally, as an internal whisper, by your name with a hard, abrupt, and derogatory tone and you can observe what happens. See what happens in your body if you call yourself sharply and disparagingly. As if you were addressing yourself.

Now experience hearing your name in a gentle, loving way. It is a way of saying internally through a subtle and delicate whisper. You can experience what happens in your body. When we whisper our name to ourselves, we can see how our frequency and our state of vibration changes. Highly recommended to perform it in stress processes.

8.1 Practice: whisper meditation

Find your position of attentive presence to meditate. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Now you are going to shift the focus of your attention to your body. Connect with the emotional frequency you are living in this moment. Feel that emotion in your body.

Now you are going to start calling yourself and listen to your name (through an almost imperceptible whisper) with an abrupt and hard tone of voice. You can call yourself whatever you want with your name and in a very derogatory way even. Watch what happens in your body and your being. Now you will start calling yourself and hear your name (through an almost imperceptible whisper) with a very soft and loving tone of voice. You can call yourself whatever you want with your name and in a very compassionate way [9]. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which you dissolve your stress through the whisper meditation.

9. Large conscious zenith chamber

Mindfulness could be defined as the process of developing the observer, that is, of developing metacognition [13]. A large overhead camera, in a large format of silence that visualizes the entire narrative from a healthy perspective. It is the technique of splitting the mind so that a part of it, the observer, becomes aware of the objects of the mind, without identifying with them. In the initial phases, the observer and the zenith chamber are very weak and the objects very powerful, so they tend easily and identify with them, especially in times of anxiety [24]. Over the months the observer becomes stronger and the mental objects are diluted.

With the strengthening of the great zenith chamber, or the witness observer, three phenomena of the mind will occur that allow us to connect with a high transformative understanding:

  • There are less and less stressful thoughts. By not identifying with them, they lack gasoline, and they lose strength. When a thought appears (for example: “I will not be able to face this challenge that I have been assigned”), a cluster of concatenated thoughts is not generated thoughts is not generated (for example: “surely my boss will realize that I am not the right person to face this challenge,” or “I am not able to face all that has been assigned to me,” “I will disappoint people who have trusted me”).

  • There are more and more gaps between thoughts of anxiety. With fewer thoughts, it is easier to see that there are gaps between thoughts, something impossible to make aware before practicing meditation. In contemplative traditions, the practitioner insists on finding the gaps between thoughts, because of the true nature of the mind. Space between stressful phenomena.

  • Every time we believe less the thoughts of alteration. We are aware that they are only mental phenomena that they are not reality that we have not voluntarily generated them and that, if we do not pay attention to them, they will disappear from the mind in a few seconds.

9.1 Practice: meditation in 8K

Update the sensations of your body and verify the conscious presence of your thoughts and emotions. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Expand now your awareness in 8K toward all the internal experience that you are living in this moment. Ask yourself for a few moments: what is my experience right now? What thoughts go through my head now? What feelings or emotions are occurring right now? What impulses appear?

Breathe in 8K very consciously. Be aware from your perception of your zenith camera of your experience at this time in a global way, observe all the sensations and emotions that appear, whether pleasant or unpleasant, but without getting involved in them, only taking note of whether they are present and if they change over time. Perception in 8K without involvement or attachment to the content. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which you perceive in 8K without attachments [9].

10. The endless story of our mind

You already know that a fundamental aspect of the nature of stress is that thoughts, which you think are absolutely true, suddenly assault you and recreate in your mind continuously. If your thoughts suggest that everything is going well, and that you have control, your stress levels are kept at bay [9]. On the other hand, if your thoughts become obsessed with the negative and make you feel that you have lost control, your stress levels increase, and the internal dialog becomes almost endless on the screen of your mind. In general, thoughts take the form of small stories and desires in your head: the speech of the mind: cognitive storytelling. Since man is man, stories go from generation to generation and connect with the human soul. Literature is full of stories, from Aesop’s fables to Shakespeare’s works. Historians conjure up images of ancient cultures telling stories about a bonfire, in an environment to share and nurture.

Imagine that the brain is a machine to tell stories. We call it cognitive storytelling. It is a kind of story factory that has no end. From the moment you wake up in the morning, you start explaining the story of your life. In the second one immediately after waking up you are present and nothing else, without your story. Have you ever noticed? [27]. But then suddenly, your personal history invades your consciousness, usually without you noticing. Your brain reminds you who you are, where you live, and what you have to do. It is an automatic process. It is an unfinished production of stories every moment.

Become aware of the nature of the discursive thoughts of the mind. Attention to discern the rumination of the film of the mind against the stable presence of your screen. You tell stories continuously about all kinds of people, situations, and difficulties. If you become aware that you are telling a story about a particular stressful situation, you can weigh if the story you tell is really true. Your identity is constructed in two ways: with stories built over time, or through your experiences with direct experience [28]. If I asked you who you are, would you tell me your name. If I asked you again, would you tell me your story: where were you born, what do you work for, what do you do in your spare time, etc. But you can also feel who you are without your story. And for that you have to connect with your senses. It is a way to connect with your essence.

The narrator brain is a network that is activated by default, which includes its activity in the part of the brain responsible for memory. When you queue at a mall, your mind disperses, fantasizes, and worries. However, that network is also easily activated when you go for a walk in the park. Instead of seeing the beauty around you, you get stuck in your little world of worries and inner stories. It is the endless story that you tell yourself about your own life, the lives of the people you know, and our interactions.

There is nothing wrong with the part of your brain based on the narrative. But nobody wants to limit his life to his personal narrative, since it is very easy to get lost in negative thoughts and emotions, if we do not pay attention to the present moment. In stressful situations, if we get lost in the internal argument of the endless story of each narration of our mind, the possibilities to increase anxiety levels increase considerably [29].

There is more and more scientific evidence that the more time we spend lost with the stories that our minds tell, the more prone we are to stress and anxiety. The way to deactivate the identification with the narration of the endless history of our mind is through the activation of our attention to direct experience and our senses [28]. A way to discern the endless narrative of the present moment.

That activation of direct experience is a state of mindfulness. You live in the present moment. It is the “way of being” of operation. When you walk through the park, you perceive the aroma of the trees, the color of the flowers, and the sensations of your body. Especially in times of stress, we propose that you activate the direct experience on the activation of the brain narrator of the endless story of your mind.

10.1 Practice: dissolve stress from the mountain

Observe your posture and accept the feelings of this moment. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing.

Now we invite you to imagine that we are sitting on the top of a mountain, in a kind of chair carved into the rock. From there we can see the sky extraordinarily clean and clear, without clouds that represents the mind. Over time clouds begin to appear, representing stressful thoughts and emotions, which progressively cover the entire sky.

Now begin to breathe consciously from the top of the mountain and experience how with each breath the clouds gradually dissolve. Focus spatially on your exhalation for the dissolution of the clouds.

At the end let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which you dissolve stress, through your conscious breathing from the mountain, and without the attachment of your cognitive storytelling [9].

11. Lego of emotions. Build the emotions in your body

Feelings are the conscious experience of the state of the body. Not only do they correspond to facts, they can also originate in brain representations (thoughts and images), that is, feelings that are different from those that would normally correspond to what is happening and that is why we can decide which feelings to choose [30].

Emotions are point reactions, reactive, rooted to the body, short-lived, automatic, and manifest with different intensities. Unlike the mood that they fed back with the internal dialog of our mind. All emotions are tremendously useful [30]. It is the magic of the simplicity of emotions. In fact, there are no positive or negative emotions. Emotions with expansive and contractive but all contain a deep household about our being that it is important that we listen with full attention to discover and decipher its content. From this perspective, the relationship with our emotions must be of an opening and celebration because the arrival of each one of them, including the stressors, has a demonstrated and transcendent function and a self-discovery [30]. All emotions are deeply useful and appear to be understood at a high level of consciousness.

The canvas of emotions is not in the mind, it is in the body. All emotions always manifest in the body and that is its way of existing. Stressful emotions arise through our thoughts but ultimately reach their compositional fullness through production and settlement in the body. It is the habitat of emotions. When we are watching a scary movie and feel a scary emotion, that emotion always goes to the body. That emotion goes to an area of the body where you feel comfortable and strong. Our body is like a hostel and emotions freely find a room and a place to settle. And of course a way.

The healthy way to manage the stressful emotions that settle in our body is not to fight with them. I cannot deny the presence of an emotion of anxiety because my mind decides, or as an order. In fact, the more we fight for an emotion to leave the center of our being, the bigger and stronger the emotion becomes in our hostel. It is like fighting with a wave, I cannot fight her I have to look her in the eye, and trying to surf her is fluent. Looking into the eyes of emotion is the first step to set off the dissolution of stressful emotions that settle in our body.

Stressful emotions like pieces of a Lego have form, texture, weight, temperature, depth, morphology, and color. Experiment with them as the first step of deep acceptance. Like the pieces of a layman, the formalization and manifestation of emotions allows an experiential experimentation of the feelings in our body [30]. When we become aware of the shape of the pieces of an emotion, we are loving its presence, and it is a way of bowing to it allowing its deep identity and its morphology in our body.

The main objective of the narrative recreation of the form of emotions is to increase awareness about the emotion to work, through bodily sensations. If we materialize the emotions and focus our attention on the bodily sensations that they generate in our body, there is an irremediable decrease in the internal dialog, which is the main cause of stress [28]. There is a greater awareness of bodily processes, such as breathing, posture, movement or listening to sounds. The sounds appear geolocated.

What we see and experience appears with a three-dimensionality and a special brightness. An example of this is to perceive an emotion like fear with a gray color, in the form of a very heavy anchor, with a cold temperature and with a very approximate temperature [30].

11.1 Practice: construction and deconstruction of emotional pieces

Examine your body posture and prepare your presence to begin the meditation. Ensure a good rooting sitting in the chair. Notice the vertical elevation of your column. Pick up the chin slightly, allowing the cervical area to stretch gently. Become aware of your body posture, firmness, grace, and subtlety. And now become aware of the breath. Feel how you inhale and exhale, softly and deeply. You watch the air in and out freely. Anchor your attention in your breathing [31].

Connect now with your stressful emotions at this time. Start observing how they manifest in your body. What part of your body do you feel? What shape does that anxiety have in your body? [32]. Does it have for example the shape of a ball in your abdomen? What temperature is it? Does it have a very cold temperature? What color does that anxiety emotion have? Does it have a very dark and penetrating color? What texture does that emotion of stress have? Do you have a very rough texture? How important is that emotion? It is a very heavy emotion that hinders the flow of air in your body? [9].

Explicitly shape your emotion in the body so that you can look into the eyes at the emotion manifested in your body. Then start consciously breathing with that part of your body so that the shape of that emotion anchored in your body dissolves. At the end, let the image dissolve through your breath and thank yourself for this experience in which you build and deconstruct through your breath your current emotion.

12. Conclusion

Congratulations for having reached the end of this transforming journey of self-discovery, growth, and inner look. But as much as this seems like an end, it is not, in fact, more than another wise step of self-consciousness forward, in the direction of a commitment and new lifestyle. The practice will allow you, as you progress, to cultivate ever-deeper levels of self-understanding and compassion, and manage your health and well-being with life intelligence, and in a more active, and effective way [33]. The more clearly you can identify and discern, stressful situations and be attentive to them, the sooner you can untangle yourself, and detach yourself, from automatic reactions and mind traps, which will open the doors to new possibilities and more appropriate responses. Inspiring.

One of the greatest difficulties in the practice of our Stress 0.0 program is to incorporate the practice into the day to day and maintain it throughout life. This problem of the live maintenance of this process over the years does not occur only in our program, but in many other areas, such as healthy living habits (regular physical exercise, healthy diet), artistic activity (practice with some instrument musical, theater, dance) and, practically, in any human activity. In the first months, the practice is usually intense and frequent, but, over time, it is increasingly spaced and shortening its frequency and duration [33]. We always find reasons that justify abandoning the practice. This process is understandable, because in life we can choose between multiple activities that can be satisfactory, so it is difficult to choose between them, since the life time is limited.

Relapses of our stress levels are considered another phase of the healing and healing process. Everything that happens to us appears to be understood, and we must maintain a frequency of transpersonal wisdom that allows us to understand that much of the experiences will become transforming seeds that will flourish when they have to. In the same way, the abandonment of the practice of our program should be considered as another phase of the learning process and should be prepared for when it arrives, using preventive measures from the first moment.

Preventive measures to maintain the practice of the Stress 0.0 program [34].

  • Related to motivation: for the program to remain in time, it must have a mature and relevant position within our values and our sense of life. Experience teaches us that the people who maintain the practice of the program for years are those who have a clear sense of life linked to the practice [34].

  • Related to the expansion: an excellent and healthy way to maintain the practice consists in its propagation and expansion, in order to improve the global well-being and the quality of life in our environment [34].

When you cannot follow the practices of the program for different reasons, remember with a clear mind and deep acceptance, maintain a curious and kind attitude to return to the path of presence, instead of taking it as a stressful factor [34].

Thank you for making this transpersonal Stress trip with us 0.0. We are deeply honored that you have shared this vital process with us from within. Remember that, no matter how bad your past is or how daunting your future looks, you are not alone, and you can find relief in the present moment. In the face of anxiety and acute stress, take life moment by moment, conscious breathing to conscious breathing. Heart coherence, joy, peace, and transformative understanding are really within your reach. We wish you all the happiness in the world.

How to cite and reference

Link to this chapter Copy to clipboard

Cite this chapter Copy to clipboard

José Jesús Vargas Delgado (February 14th 2020). Stress 0.0. Experimental Program of Meditations for Stress Reduction, Effects of Stress on Human Health, Hülya Çakmur, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.91347. Available from:

chapter statistics

64total chapter downloads

More statistics for editors and authors

Login to your personal dashboard for more detailed statistics on your publications.

Access personal reporting

Related Content

This Book

Next chapter

Introductory Chapter: How Does Stress Impact Human Body?

By Hülya Çakmur

Related Book

First chapter

Introductory Chapter: Unbearable Burden of the Diseases - Obesity

By Hülya Çakmur

We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books. Built by scientists, for scientists. Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. We share our knowledge and peer-reveiwed research papers with libraries, scientific and engineering societies, and also work with corporate R&D departments and government entities.

More About Us