Peter Russell

By SHELDON BERMONT / Petaluma Towns Correspondent

With 2012 nearly here and our economy still stalled, hope and optimism can be hard to come by. Fear and ever-increasing levels of stress loom large for many. But Peter Russell may have at least a few solutions. The author, public speaker and fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma outlines five ways to deal with the pressurized lifestyle most of us have embraced as the new normal.

1. Really letting the mind relax or “reclaiming” quality time. These days we find our time is taken up with endless things to do. In addition to work and family, we have e-mails, Facebook, Twitter and Newsfeed, not to mention the incessant ringing of our mobile phones. We have no time for ourselves, no down time.

We need to make a point each day to take some quality time for ourselves. Closing the computer, switching off the phone, finding a place where we’re not going to be disturbed and really just letting the mind relax. Sitting or walking, stopping and noticing what’s going around us and not doing anything in particular. Not trying to solve problems or go over the past, just learning how to “be” for a while.

2. Rethink your priorities. So often our priorities are determined by others. We easily overlook our own personal priorities. We need to ask ourselves: What is it we really want out of life? What do we really want to be doing? What do we really value?

We need to take back more control of our own lives. What makes our hearts sing? What brings us joy? It’s important to understand what makes us feel good and to make time to nurture those priorities. That may mean cutting back some other activities.

Often we do things simply out of habit, without even thinking. Ask yourself, “What if I don’t do this for once; will my world really fall apart? Will it bring great disaster to other people? ” Often the answer is “no.” Those are the things we can cut out to give ourselves more time to rest and to follow the paths that bring us joy.

3. Search for different ways to look at traditionally stressful situations. Whenever we feel stress, there’s usually some amount of fear behind it. Being stuck in a traffic jam, for example, can induce immeasurable fear – of being late, missing an opportunity, reprisal from a boss, etc. But it can also be viewed as the least stressful part of driving. You can finally relax for a moment, listen to music or enjoy the first quiet moment you’ve had all day. When you’re stressed, just pause and ask yourself if there’s another way of looking at the situation. You can see things in a different way.

4. Don’t keep anxieties bottled up; let your feelings in. We tend to want to push away uncomfortable feelings. When you resist them, the feelings tend to stay. If you let the negative feelings in, they have a better chance of dissipating. Try taking the time to actually write your feelings of anxiety down on paper. Once you see them clearly, you’ll be able to put them in reasonable perspective.

5. In tough times, community is really important. Your family, close friends and colleagues are your inner circle that needs your special treatment, because they are the ones who can be there for you. The classic Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” actually functions to relieve your own life stress. The show of love and respect for others serves the dual purpose of showing people how you prefer to be treated. Value your friendships.

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Peter Russell’s fields of expertise are consciousness and contemporary spirituality. His books, “The Global Brain,” “Waking Up in Time” and “From Science to God” have won international acclaim. His mission is to use the essential wisdoms found in the world’s various spiritual traditions to make self-liberation possible in our modern world.

For more information on Peter Russell’s background, work and contact information, visit peterrussell.com.