A journey away from stress



By TIM O'BRIEN
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
Dream large dreams. They take no more effort than small ones. And it is easier to soar on flights of fancy and imagination with giant wings. Don't just "think outside the box," live outside of it. And use it for extra storage.
Go with me on an inner journey. It is free except your investment in time. Imagine yourself, feel yourself unbridled, unencumbered by any type of limitation.
No borders, boundaries, height or depth, simply freedom all around you.
Right now, you have no cares, worries, no money or health considerations or concerns. Just free, unrestricted, eternal.
Close your eyes and see vast spaces above, below and all around you. Breathe in gently, calmly, deeply. Exhale naturally without effort. Feel yourself expand to the edges of your expanded inner space.
Have the sense of comfortably floating within it. Now feel yourself enclose and contain all this vastness within you.
Allow your mind to consider infinity: foreverness, limitlessness in all ways and directions. Imagine world hunger does not exist, replaced by adequate food for everyone. Contemplate peace among nations.
Can one person be peaceful? Can one person live a nonviolent life? Then it is potentially possible for all to live that way. As you inhale and exhale calmly, see all problems as solved. View obstacles as only opportunities to find innovative, practical solutions.
Use your imagination
Now have some fun with your imagination. Think of an animal. Now place an elephant's head on it, a duck's bill, an eagle's wings. Hear it as it honks like a car, moving on its roller blade feet. Have it grow 20 times larger.
Now, view it through a microscope because it is so small. Let yourself build fantastical homes floating on gossamer seas.
Breathe in relaxation. Exhale tension. Simply allow yourself to feel that the universe is a hologram. Every portion contains an image of the whole. Intricately intertwined, interwoven, apparently separate but all connected. Now look at the spaces between the planets, the areas between the stars. Those spaces contain more than 99 percent of the matter in the universe. Wonder what it is? Wonder how can it be there and we can't see it? We can't see the air we breathe but we know it is there.
Expand yourself one final time to encompass the entirety of creation. Now view it as it becomes the size of a single drop of water on the tip of your finger. And the space around it, what is it and what does it contain?
Back to earth
Gently bring yourself back to the present. How do you feel after this exercise in expanding our limits? Are you calm and relaxed with a feeling of closeness to the universe? Did any of the exercise or the sensations it produced cause you to feel uneasy? Whatever you experienced, just think about it and notice the reactions you have. Try this exercise often. Expand and contract, shift your viewpoint and perspective. Allow yourself to experience new, different and potentially enhancing thoughts and feelings.
Get out into the universe and look back at your box and wonder why you spend so much time inside it.
XTim O'Brien writes continuing-education courses and presents seminars on stress management. Readers may write to him at 2938 Wellington Circle East, Tallahassee, Fla. 32308 or send e-mail to ismhyperstress.com. He also has a Web site at www.hyperstress.com.

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