We learn to experience emotions in the body, and less in the stories we have about them…
According to biology and neurology professor Robert Sapolsky (in his book Behave) one of the aspects of chronic stress is that it tends to be psychological. That’s to say, we are threatened not only by actual threats, but by fear of being stressed – of having the stress response activated. But this fear itself activates the stress response. Hence it can self-perpetuate in a chronic way. This can mean that we become hyper-vigilant of our states of mind. Anyone who has had a chronic illness or condition may be familiar with this — it sees to be getting better, but then there’s a flicker of recurring symptom and we think: oh no, it’s coming back, not again!
If we are doing this over our state of mind, as often we may do in the case of depression or anxiety, you can see how potent a recipe it could be for misery. Or in other words: for chronic stress.
How does practice help? As we start to settle, one aspect of that settling is precisely being less reactive to states of mind. We learn to experience emotions in the body, and less in the stories we have about them, for example.
Meanwhile our tolerace for uncomfortable internal body sensations grows, and we become able to let these sensations be there. In time we learn to allow, welcome and even love them. At that point we see that they are just energies. Our aversion to them dissolves, and they cease to be a “problem.”
Then frequently they turn into beauty, and as a result of having sat with them in open, non-resistant awareness, we may become suffused with joy and well-being.