There are many tools to deal with stress and some of them I have written about in my previous posts De-Stressing 101 and 201.  They include, for example, breathing techniques, cognitive tools, mindfulness practices, proper diet, proper exercise, etc… They can all be very effective and the key is just finding the right ones for us and applying them regularly.  But now I would like to look at a less tangible tool, spirituality, and the tremendous impact it can have in decreasing our stress and agitation level.

Spirituality does not necessarily mean to follow a belief system or specific religious worships.  Spirituality can arise from the connection with our own sense of self, the development of a value system or the search for meaning in life. For some, of course, it takes the form of religious observances, prayer or the belief in a higher power but it can also manifest in our love of nature, the arts or service to others.

Spirituality can help us by giving context to our lives and by finding a sense of purpose and connection with the world. The more purposeful our life is, the less alienated and isolated we feel even when we are alone. Spirituality also helps us release the control we exert on ourselves as we realize that we are not the only ones responsible for everything that happens in life and so we can let go of anxieties and fears. Spirituality can expand our support network as we connect with people (the sangha) that share our same spiritual values and ideals.  Finally, from a health point of view, a spiritual outlook can help us heal faster from bad habits and addictions as we draw strength from a higher source.

But not everybody might have discovered their connection with spirituality so  what follows are some questions to ponder on in order to find your affinities and get in touch with your spirit. And by spirit I mean our own deep self, the consciousness that sees forms and the passage of time without identification and that experiences joy, wisdom and compassion: what are your important relationships? what do you value most in life? what people give you a sense of community? what inspires you and gives you hope? what brings you joy? what are your proudest achievements? etc…

To cultivate our spirituality the main component is getting in touch with ourselves and this is best done by self-reflection, in silence and solitude. We can do that in meditation, prayer, relaxation or going for a quiet walk in nature. At those times our mental activity decreases, we become calm and peaceful and we get a taste of contentment and bliss. We can also help this process by keeping a journal, writing and recording our feelings and hopes and keeping track of our progress. We can  also foster spiritual relationships and seek trusted advisers, friends, mentors or teachers that we admire and can support and inspire us. And when those live supports are not available we can read inspirational books and stories. Finally volunteering, karma yoga, is a potent way to open our heart and find joy in giving unconditionally.

As we discover, cultivate and nurture our spirituality, we become more and more grounded on a powerful source of strength and confidence and so when the stresses of life overwhelm us and we cannot find a solution to our difficulties, the ultimate stress relief strategy is the letting go, the surrender to a greater power or intelligence, inside us or outside us, and by allowing it to work through us, with us or in spite of us, we become free from agitation, confusion and turmoil.




About suryasanmiguel

I'm a Yoga teacher and educator. I was born in Madrid, Spain and came to Canada in the 70's to study but remained here. I received a degree in Education from McGill University. In my student's years I had the good fortune of meeting my Zen teacher, Roshi Phillip Kapleau and I studied with him for 15 years attending numerous retreats. In 1988 I was also very fortunate to meet Swami Vishnudevananda at the Sivananda Yoga Camp in Quebec where I became a certified Yoga teacher My interest in Budhism and Hinduism also led me to meet several Tibetan Lamas and study their teachings and traditions. I live presently in Montreal, Canada but travel frequently teaching Yoga and giving workshops and lectures on spiritual related topics.
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  1. Premashakti Alvis says:

    Hari Om Surya,

    It was so lovely to receive my first post from your blog. It took me right back to our conversation about Majorca while on the beach in the Bahamas.

    Be well,


  2. michele Lalande says:

    Hi Suria,
    One way I found to reduce stress was taught by a yoga teacher in Quebec, Nicole Bordeleau , it is to stop few minutes or more when I change activity. For example, at work, I have so many tasks to do. When I finish one task, I sit down, I do my alternate breathing, for a few minutes and then I feel so relaxe after and I can start something new. Before I was just running from an activity to the other !
    Yoga Nidra helps me also alot when I come back from work. When I am done with that relaxation, I see things differently, I’m so relaxe, I do things on another beat, slowly and with full consciousness !
    Michèle Lalande from Montreal ( sorry for my poor english writing )

    • Oui, Michele, il y a beaucoup de techniques pour nous aider. Dans cet article je voulais mettre l’emphase sur le rôle très important qui joue la spiritualité qui est la base de notre force pour naviguer dans la vie. Je suis contente de re-connecter avec toi. Surya

      • michele Lalande says:

        Bonjour Surya,
        moi aussi , je suis contente de pouvoir échanger car tu m’as beaucoup appris lors de mon séjour à Nassau. En fait, c’est plus facile pour moi d’écrire ce que je pense vraiment en français.
        Oui, toute technique de relaxation, de méditation nous aide à nous recentrer et amène en nous cet état de calme, de paix intérieure. En ce qui me concerne, lorsque je suis dans cet état de bien-être, je sens que je touche à une autre dimension de mon être.
        Je me sens plus proche des autres, à l’écoute et parfois même en communion avec eux.
        Le seul problème, c’est que cet état n’est pas permanent et je dois constamment y travailler !
        J,espère que l’on aura l’occasion de se revoir un jour. Bonne continuation.

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