Making the Connection
For men, stress management represents a choice, a fork in the road: he can take the road less traveled by exploring his spirituality or he can take the path of business as usual and suffer the consequences.
The spiritual path will lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships, and improved coping skills. The alternative is poor physical and mental health, dissatisfaction with life, groundlessness, meaninglessness, and purposelessness. The choice is yours.
What is spirituality?
First of all, spirituality is not religion. Spirituality is a mindset and worldview that give your life context, meaning, and purpose. Your spirituality is the expression of your connection with yourself, with others, the development of personal values, and the search for meaning in life, and aknowledgement of the transcendental. Spirituality is essentially personal.
From that brief definition, it should be clear that spirituality has a significant role in reducing stress and improving overall health and wellbeing.
Awareness of your spirituality requires self-discovery.
Many men ask me how do I know I’m spiritual or have spirituality? Everyone is spiritual and has spirituality, it’s always been there but you didn’t know it. Ask yourself:
- What are my truly important relationships?
- What do I value most in life?
- Who gives me a sense of belonging?
- Which groups give me a sense of community?
- What inspires me and gives me hope?
- What brings me joy?
- What are my most cherished achievements?
- Where do I turn when I feel overwhelmed?
Those are questions that reveal experiences and values that define you. The answers to these and other questions help to identify what is most important in your life. Your answers will focus you on the relationships and activities in life that define you as a person. and those that promote or obstruct your personal and spiritual growth.
Spirituality involves getting in touch with your inner self. A key component is self-reflection.
You cultivate and nurture your spirituality through relationships with others. It is fundamental and essential that you foster relationships not necessarily with people who are important to you but with people who are healthful for you. Being with people who are not stressors and who accept unconditionally, will lead to a deepened sense of your place in the cosmos, in life, and your role in the big picture.
Your priority should be to establish healthy, nurturing relationships with men with healthy core values and virtues. Always give more than you receive.
Listen with the heart and see with your ears; this will reveal the good in others and in yourself. Acceptance of others non-judgmentally, where they are and who they are will have positive effects on yourself.
Contribute to your community through selfless service. Accept that nothing belongs to you, everything is a gift or borrowed, you can lose everything in an instant, and you will take nothing with you. Life becomes simpler.
Pursuing a spiritual life will ensure that you are connected with your inner spirit; those around you will enhance your life. Your personal concept of spirituality may change as you age and with experience, but it will remain the foundation of your well-being and will affirm purpose and meaning in your life.
Spiritual Practice for Stress Reduction
Spirituality is your relationship with a your Self and Ultimacy or with a metaphysical reality greater than yourself.
Spirituality decreases perceived stress by:
- Nurturing a sense of quiet, stillness, and peace
- Allowing you to let go of the false sense of control
- Revealing a meaning in your life
- Clarifying the universality of connectedness
- Focusing you on your ultimate purpose
- Opening you to novel vision, worldview, perspective
Mindfulness serves to reduce stress when you learn to avoid the flurry of distractions around you and to increase your awareness, focus, and attention on the task in front of you. The practice will generally include breathing practices, movement, and awareness exercises.
Mindful focus is a foundation of most spiritual disciplines. Self-reflection, contemplation, and meditation increase your awareness of the present moment and aid in developing a gentler, accepting attitude with regard to yourself and others. In a world determined to enslave you with distractions and addictions, meditation can help you stay positive and focused on what is real and beneficial.
Mindfulness of intentional movement or āsana (आसन) of yoga (योग) — including breathing practices, flowing movement, mental focus — make it the almost perfect antidote to stress. We live in an “attention economy,” in which the sensory enviroment is designed and orchestrated to control your awareness and attention. “Influencers,” marketers, politicians want your attention, and they want it NOW. They are stressors and you must take control of your focus, manage or eliminate the stressors, and wake up to liberation and freedom.
If stressors are everywhere and unavoidable then resilience is a key strategy. Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s stressors; it means the ability to bounce back intact.
I teach three basic strategies for maintaining resilience:
1. Practice self-awareness. Be aware of your thoughts and responses. Recognize patterns that can be improved or eliminaed. Step back; note whether you reacted or responded. Ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?
- Identify your physical response?
- If you feel it, write it down
- If you feel it, reflect on it
2. Focus on the present moment, not on what happened and not on what will happen. Practice reduces the monkey-mind’s tendency to wander and jump from one thing to another. What-if scenarios are stressors.
3. Discern don’t analyze. You likely spend far too much energy analyzing and evaluating everything you experience. You don’t need to fix nor control anything. Practice gratitude and compassion; whatever or whoever is, is good enough as is.
Spiritual Stressors and Spiritual Health
Positive core values, attitudes, skills, and competence that you develop through spiritual health practices contribute to your well-being, health, and contentment. Your spiritual aspect relates to your sense of meaning and purpose in life, self-awareness, self-realization, self-knowledge, compassion for others and nature. Your spirituality determines the extent of realization of your creative, intellectual, emotional, erotosensual, and social potential, and your relationship with the Transcendent.
This aspect means connecting with your core values and intrinsic good, embracing your possibilities, and becoming that higher Self, which you briefly envision in your most perfect moments.
Your spirituality embraces your most intimate values and purpose; you are gently nudged forward towards wholeness and unity, towards the bliss of self-realization. Imagination or the mindset of possibilities revives motivation and a sense of longing and anticipation.
Abraham H. Maslow, PhD
When you allow anxiety to become an obstacle to exploring, growing, and expanding, and keep you from following your bliss and living authentically, you deprive yourself of purpose, meaning, and freedom. This spiritual stress results in depression, anxiety, restlessness, uncertainty, doubt, problems concentrating, physical disorders, and myriad other problems.
Spiritual stressors may manifest as:
- Lack of authenticity, integrity, or genuineness
- Lack of self-awareness or self-actualization
- Lack of self-love, gratitude, forgiveness
- Lack of trust in the Transcendental
- Negative emotional patterns
- Negative mental patterns and attitudes
- Negative habits
- Longing but no sense of belonging
These stressors may result from toxic cultural conditioning, stereotypes, socialization, or unauthentic values but they can be transmogrified.
There are a number of coping strategies for spiritual stress. As a psychospiritual guide and mentor, my recommendations include:
- Cultivate deeper self-awareness
- Engage in creative activities
- Seek activities and practices as resources for inspiration
- Accept the Transcendent
- Develop a daily spiritual discipline
- Identify and resolve emotional & mental stressors
- Regular physical exercise
- Avoiding alcohol, recreational drugs, caffeine, and some prescription drugs
- A healthful diet and good nutrition
- Identifying and prioritizing tasks
- Time management
- Rest, relaxation, sleep
- Avoid toxic people and situations
- Self-reflection, meditation, journaling
- Authentic spirituality and beneficial rituals
- Good company
- Internet discipline
- Study, reading, and mental exercise
Ongoing awareness, management, and maintenance are indispensible. I also advocate a thorough lifestyle review and complementary psychospiritual methods to aid in managing stressors, learning coping skills, or eliminating the adverse effects of stressors and stress-related perceptions of being overwhelmed. Among the most valuable coping strategies, lifestyle changes head the list.
Acknowledging signs and symptoms is the essential first step to taking action. A man who experiences anxiety, depression, high job demands, works long hours, or has relationship problems, or feels generally overwhelmed may need to review or adjust his lifestyle.
©2020/2021. Homoerotic Tantra:Mascul-IN-Touch℠ and H.W. Vadney MDiv. (Daka Karuṇā (करुणा) T.). All rights Reserved. This document is considered proprietary and confidential. Permission to publish this article is granted provided attribution is recognized without prejudice to the author’s rights. Homoerotic Tantra:Mascul-IN-Touch℠, Homoerotic Tantra:Mascul-IN-Timacy℠, and Daka Karuna are alteregos of H.W. Vadney MDiv. Homoerotic Tantra℠, Mascul-IN-Touch℠, and Homoerotic Tantra:Mascul-IN-