4 Steps to Less Stress

This holiday season I’ve done something new for my inner stress management that has been delightful for me….heart-642068_1280

I’ve been contemplating the qualities of gratitude and forgiveness.

Many mornings this past week my meditation time has incorporated sitting with gratitude and forgiveness. If I couldn’t feel gratitude, then I would turn my attention to forgiveness.

I wasn’t trying to forgive anyone for anything. I was simply contemplating the energy or quality of forgiveness itself. 

Forgiveness has an unconditional quality to it, for me, that makes everything ok. It kinda transmutes things just by the nature of what it is. So, I’ve been simply contemplating the nature and qualities of forgiveness and allowing those qualities to soothe my heart.

To me, forgiveness always seems starts with my own heart. When my own heart feels forgiven, often everything else is handled.

Here are four steps to being with gratitude, forgiveness or any quality:

1. Come to your breath
I first come to my breath and establish my attention on my breath. I do this with a few minutes of conscious breathing (or simple breath meditation).

2. Name the stress
Then I name the stress I am feeling and notice how it feels in my body. Some common names for stress can simply be “stress” or “anxious” or “scared.”  Naming it allows me be more of a witness to my experience.

I do not push it away, but simply allow it to be as it is.

Where is it in my body? I often feel this kind of thing as an ache or pain in my heart area. Ok, so ache-pain in my heart. (Maybe you feel the stress somewhere else, like in your belly or jaw as maybe a jittering or a tightness. Recognize what is true for you.)

3. Allowing and inviting in forgiveness (or gratitude)
While allowing myself to notice the stress in my body…..  I simultaneously bring in the quality of forgiveness. (You can also do this with gratitude, kindness, peace or any other soothing quality that you want.)

I do this by thinking about forgiveness and feeling the qualities that I notice when I think about it, such as softness, unconditional-ness, accepting, nurturing. It is important to not try to be fixing your pain or stress when you do this. You are in the Great Allowing.

4. Being withIMG_2164
I allow myself to be with the body sensation of stress and the quality of forgiveness simultaneously… all the while the breath is still there. If I want, I can “ride” (be with) the breath at the same time I am with the body sensation and forgiveness.

I sit for as long as I want, being with with the body sensation and with the quality of forgiveness at the same time. I find this soothing and comforting.

Remember, no resisting the unpleasant feeling. Be with it as best you can. If you notice you are trying to get rid of it, terrific! You can let go and come back to simply allowing and being with.

From there, gratitude sometimes comes to me on its own. When gratitude comes, I sit with it and enjoy it. When it dissipates, I can move my attention back to forgiveness if I want, or I can end my meditation time.

If you want some support with a meditation like this, I have an 8 minute audio soothing meditation that you can listen to. Just click here. forgiveness

Forgiveness is speaking to me very sweetly these days, I think in part because Ken and I are studying the Course in Miracles. It speaks strongly about forgiveness being the key to “salvation” (i.e. freedom) and how the hardness in our hearts can be softened by forgiveness. God never holds a grudge against us. What grudges do we hold again ourselves? This has been giving me permission to notice my own self-grudges and tend to my heart in a sweet way.


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Lauren Darges

Lauren Darges, RScP, SEP

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