In October 2008, for a ten-million-dollar contest sponsored by the Google corporation, I submitted several ideas for projects that could help a lot of people. One idea proposed developing a new level of stress mastery training. From my submission: “Traditional stress management (TSM) offers principles and methods effective for handling a certain level of stress. However, TSM effectiveness is limited by a focus on objective (rather than subjective) factors and the lack of important practices. In particular, TSM can’t answer this essential question: What can you do to neutralize stress the instant after it’s noticed, without taking any overt action? We should develop a new level of stress management education and practice by offering stress mastery workshops. Online and onsite versions of a workshop will be designed to teach how to stop the stress development cycle (SDC). Follow-up resources will be offered for both online and onsite participants to improve and measure their learning. After a sufficient number of participants take the two versions of the workshop, results will be used to validate that training diminishes stress and improves productivity and well-being. This workshop will present the key to mastering stress: rather than being a persistent, object-like ‘thing’ that we can only ‘manage’, stress is actually a multilevel cycle that can be changed as it occurs. Workshop participants will examine examples of the SDC, identify different stages of the process, and learn how experiencing feelings as ‘negative’ only occurs at superficial levels of the cycle. Participants will see how to ‘unravel’ the SDC, get to the core of ‘negative’ and painful feelings, and allow them to change to satisfying neutral energy.”
The idea that stress is a malleable process (often called the ‘field communique’ in the Time, Space, and Knowledge vision) rather than a kind of fixed ‘package’ is novel, and it offers considerably more flexibility in dealing with stress. I wrote a paper on the process (SDP) for a training and development audience, and the paper (at http://groups.google.com/group/playing-in-the-zone/web/the-stress-development-process ) is included as a page on my Playing in the Zone Google Group (http://groups.google.com/group/playing-in-the-zone), which you could join if you like. Here are three examples of ‘sections’ of the SDP included in the paper:
Have you ever awakened to see, first thing, just a blank white ceiling? Not knowing anything else, like which room you were in, in which direction you were oriented, what day or time it was? Then your ordinary reality started to be pieced together. You realized you were in a particular room, oriented in a certain direction, but didn’t know what day it was. And then you figured out which day it was. Before long you were thinking about what you needed to do that day.
Were you ever working with some papers and cut your finger on a paper without knowing it right away? In other words, even though you cut your finger some time before, and even though you felt some kind of sensation in the background of awareness, you felt no real pain associated with the sensation until you actually saw your cut? And only then felt pain from the cut? And then you said something like, “Oh, I cut my finger!”
Have you ever been so concentrated, so absorbed or engrossed in something or some activity or someone that you were unaware of your normal identity, other objects, activities, and people nearby, and unaware of time passing and possibly even where you were? If so, afterwards did you ‘come out’ of the absorption to a ‘normal’ feeling of identity, space, location, and time passing?
These common experiences confirm and clarify stages of the SDP. Becoming very familiar with the stages makes it possible to ‘terminate’ or arrest the process, using awareness to relieve negativity and change its energy. I hope to discover more examples of the process–if you have an example, please let me know.