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Destressifying through The Five Realms of Existence

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Whether you are dealing with a stressful period in your life or have just come through a difficult time; maybe you’re in the midst of an argument with a friend, relative, or co-worker; or maybe you’ve just bitten off more than you can handle right now… wherever you are in your life, you need a pattern interrupt to see clearly and could greatly benefit from the non-stop onslaught of your fight-flight conditioning.

The Five Realms of Existence is a personal self-transformation tool to help bring clarity to the often overwhelming process of looking at our life and its millions of moving parts by taking a holistic and systematic approach to meeting your needs, healing your emotional wounds, and bringing balance back into your life.

The Five Realms are the basic categories of your life – the physical, emotional, material, relationship, and spiritual. When we look at our life through the lens of the Five Realms, it allows us to move back and forth from the big picture to the more granular aspects, irritants, and blockages of our existence. It brings us single-pointed intention so we can look at our life under the microscope and make tiny, incremental shifts that have huge impact. And by limiting it to only five lenses, clarity naturally flows to all of our answers.

Our life in its totality consists of some overlapping parts, and others that are distinct. We’ve all heard of the concept of work-life balance. But in truth, that separation between work and life is artificial, since for many, work is our life. For all of us, however, the behaviors and actions we perform in daily life, spill over into work, home commute, relaxation, meals, or the bedroom. A more accurate breakdown is to separate our life into the five truest aspects of our existence: the physical realm, the emotional realm, the material realm, the relationship realm and the spiritual realm.

During times when it seems like you can barely catch your breath, if you can look at your life through the lens of The Five Realms, you will keep you moving forward while keeping everything in perspective, and bringing greater clarity into the moment.

Here’s an example: your to-do list is bursting at the seams; you’ve got expectations of what needs to get done, several obligations that you have committed yourself to, a brand new set of circumstances arises and the basic day-to-day tasks and chores still need to get done. So let’s slow it all down.

Simply walk yourself through The Five Realms and spend about five minutes on each realm:

Start with your Physical Realm: your body, what comes in and what goes out, what strengthens it and what weakens it. Pick one action to definitely do, and one thing to let go JUST FOR TODAY. Don’t torture yourself. We just want to bring one thing into your physiology that will nourish and release one that’s not nourishing.

Next, your Emotional Realm: Walk yourself through your ability to monitor your own (and other people's emotions); your ability to identify different emotions and label them appropriately. Place your attention on your level of empathy, compassion, hot buttons, trigger points, assumptions and conditioned responses. Commit to one emotional behavior that is serving you and keep it in your awareness throughout the day – create a mantra that you can keep flowing throughout the day such as “patience… patience… patience.” And every time you feel you’re about to respond in a way that might not serve you, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, repeat the mantra.

Now drift your attention to your Material Realm: Make one decision about how you will view the material abundance in the world. Seeing yourself as a never-ending conduit will flow through how you treat your money, finances, your debt, status, your position, possessions, dharma, your savings, hoarding or your giving. Allow abundance consciousness and wealth circulation to transform any feelings of poverty consciousness or less-than thinking. And throughout the day, remind yourself of that shift. Reinforce it by keeping the subtle intention, “I Am” running in the background of all your thought processes.

Onto the Relationship Realm: Reflect on one relationship you have – with your self, your core family, friends, extended relationships, those with whom you have a grievance – and leading with love, take a step to either birth, repair, shift or end it. That’s right. Sometimes we have to end a relationship to destressify. Let it go, whether the relationship is with a person, a vice or an activity that is non-nourishing. Throughout the process, breathe in deeply as you allow these virtues: acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, honesty and impeccability of your word, your thoughts, and your actions, to be cultivated within you.

Finally, spend contemplate on the Spiritual Realm: This is your connection to your soul and to the divine spirit; your daily practice of prayer, meditation and devotion to the divine. Contemplate your dharma or noble purpose in this life. Breathe in and plant a seed of oneness in your heart and let the universe kiss your soul.

Reflecting on each realm and the intention or commitment you made to yourself will reinforce the destressifying process. If you really want to ground your intentions, write them down and place them someplace where you will regularly see them. But the key is to live them – live your intentions…lean into them. As Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, “Yogastha kuru karmani,” or “Establish yourself in the present moment, and then perform action.”

The swirl will slow. Clarity will unfold. Your choices will become more evident. Your decisions will start to truly nourish you and those in your world. With gentle repetition, this can become a daily practice. And it only takes a few minutes each day.

Adapted with permission from the book destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Empowerment, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind. davidji is a mindbody health and wellness expert, mindful performance trainer, meditation teacher and author.


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