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introduction. What is stress? What is bliss? Let's deal with the second one. First, I have a friend who's a chiropractor and sees a lot of people who have chronic back pain of one kind or another. When he first sees a patient, he likes to find out more about them so he can determine the best course of treatment. He asked several questions, including the one, How long is it since you had some real fun? He tells me there are basically three categories of responses he gets to that question. Some people say something like, oh, just last week I took my kids to an amusement park and we had a blast with these folks. He knows that they will be easy to treat and the problem is most likely just a temporary physical dysfunction. Others might say something along the lines of, well, doc, it's been a while since I had any real fun with these folks. He knows there could be other things going on in their life as well as what is manifesting physically. That could be contributing to their problem. Treatment won't be easy and may take longer. His third category is the most interesting. These are the folks that respond abruptly to his question with a statement like this. Fun. What's that? What do you mean by fun? Could you define that for me with these people? He knows he has real problems on his hands. They most likely have removed themselves psychologically from any genuine experience of their own life. They're probably not very well connected to themselves physically or emotionally and they tend to live their lives from their mind. They prefer to have their lives defined for them by an external authority rather than trust their own unique experience of life. If you think about it, fun is different for different people, but anyone who ever has fun knows what it is. The same could be said of bliss. I recently experienced one of those magical days that will be unforgettable. When I write, I like to come to my simple lakefront camp in the north woods of Maine. I have a beautiful view of kata Din, the highest mountain in Maine, with a lake in the foreground. This morning. The air was still this morning. The air was still and the lake was the calmest I had ever seen it. The water shimmered like glass. I was so awestruck by its beauty that instead of doing the next thing I paused and sat down and simply took in the beauty of what was in front of my eyes for the next 10 minutes it was so quiet and yet so majestically beautiful. Later in the day the sunset was even more beautiful. A real golden pond moment when scenery, feelings and connection to life all seemed to come together in one instant to create an overall magnificent experience of life, a sensual and spiritual ****** without sex. On both occasions I was in bliss at least according to my definition of it. And if anyone wanted to define it differently, it would not affect my experience of it. It simply was what it was. Now. I believe that my capacity to experience that bliss has a lot to do with what is happening overall in my life. If my life had been recently stressful for a prolonged period, would I have been able to notice the lake in the view? Or would my mind have been so busy with my to do list that I would have not taken the time to notice or if I had noticed, would I have ignored it in preference to rushing to do the next important thing. Does this mean that if I'm stressed, I'm unlikely to be able to experience bliss? Perhaps this is so, it certainly seems the chances are much slimmer for me to have fun and be blissed out if I'm too stressed out to no bliss or fun when it happens or to be too busy to enjoy it. So what is stress. My simplest experience of stress at its worst is to liken it to a fish out of water whenever we position ourselves in life to the extent that it places us in unknown and uncomfortable situations. For long enough, we become like a fish out of water, so in response we flap vigorously to try to regain what we have lost. But trying to swim on dry land just doesn't work. Something is missing. The water isn't there. We think we can get by without it if we can just swim harder and faster, but the result is the same, There is no progress and we don't go back to where we want to be whenever we create situations in our lives that defy our deep inner wisdom and continue to do things that are not in our best long term interests. We begin to remove ourselves from the water. It can happen in very subtle and unnoticeable ways. It can also happen by doing more than we can handle at any given time. I recall reading a stress checklist that listed many significant life changing events that we all experience from time to time and each one had a score. So you could calculate your stress level the way it worked was that if two or more significant life changing events were happening at the same time, you had a good chance of being seriously under stress. For example, a new relationship accompanied by a change in residence or a death of a loved one accompanied by a change in career or rival of a newborn or any similar combination would most likely be enough to put most of us over the edge with stress in our lives. Why does change produce stress? Because change requires us to adapt to do things differently from the way we have grown accustomed to doing them. And doing things differently is not always easy. It can put us on edge. Remember the dinosaurs and why they disappeared? The climate changes that they had to face were too stressful so they died. They could not adapt. Are we in danger? Like those dinosaurs? Think about life in our 21st century for a moment. Changes all around us. Technology over the last 10 years alone has produced more change to the way we do things than the entire century before. That we've also changed socially. No longer is the traditional family of one income earner and one homemaker, the norm. Now, usually both parents work if there are two, but there is a very good chance it will just be one, not two. The demands of family are greater and more complicated than in the past. The time available to take some downtime is less and when it does happen, it's usually in much shorter and much more intense time periods. With the demands of air travel. In our new security conscious world makes getting to and from a vacation with the family in tow. Anything but a relaxing experience. Potential sources of stress are all around us in just about every aspect of our lives. It's not surprising that stress related disorders topped the list for reasons for visits to doctors or that all kinds of new stress related disorders are appearing. A recent study co sponsored by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University finds that women who worry a lot may also suffer from ulcers. Researchers think that out of control stress may activate a bacterium known as H. Pylori, setting off a chain reaction inside the body that causes ulcers to develop. There's also evidence to suggest that stress causes fluctuations in the sex hormones in women, which may lead to more severe body and mood changes during menstruation, pregnancy and peri menopause so much for the bad news about our world and the stress we live under the good news is that stress is not just something that happens to us and something over which we have no control. There are two very important things we can do to tackle it first. We can eliminate a lot of the sources of stress by looking at our lifestyle and seeing where the stressors come from. This sounds simple, but it's really not. It's not simple because we're often unaware that we're under stress or where the stress comes from in our lives furthermore, were often unwilling to change anything. Even if we are aware, just like the dinosaur, we have a high propensity to just keep on doing the same old things in our lives day after day. Of course we rationalize our choices and use some pretty good reasons like oh I really should be taking on less things. But that's hard to do with young Children. They need so much. Maybe when they're older, I'll be able to slow down so for unaware or unwilling to change what's our other option? This is the option I like the best and it simply is this we need to build up some inner muscle so we can handle the stress in our lives more easily. Just like when we work out and lift weights over time, we can increase the amount of weight our bodies can handle. We do this by training our muscles, we can do a similar thing with our capacity to handle stress. And in some ways it's even easier. This is because it's not really the stress. That's the problem in our life. Stressful situations don't necessarily make you stressed. What causes our stress is how we respond to stressful situations more than the situation itself. Put two people in the same stressful situation might be surprised to find that one goes down under the burden and the other comes away laughing stress is not the enemy, we are the enemy. So if we're going to turn our stress into bliss, we need to start with ourselves from the inside. And that is what this book is about. The other interesting thing that I've learned both from my own experience and from working with others over many years, is that when we work from the inside and develop a capacity to handle stress, we also develop the capacity to change right along with it. This makes it much easier to adapt and to eliminate a lot of our stress with very creative and fun solutions. We become very un dinosaur like in our approach to life and actually enjoy making the changes that give us more bliss, more fun, more connection and more growth and learning. So think of the things you'll be asked to do in the eight week program, outlined in this book as inner exercise, just like any exercise doing it daily makes a huge difference. The most important part of this whole program is simply making that commitment. So are you ready?