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Stress Reduction: A River Guide's Perspective

April 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 116

I have become incredibly curious about ways to reduce stress and "crazy" and to support our culture to stop thinking that this is a "normal" state of being. But changing a cultural belief takes time and becoming a monk and moving to a monastery is not an option for most of us, nor is it something we want for our lives. So my new question is:

How do we stay Peaceful and Calm even amongst the Busy, the Overwhelm, the Crazy?

To answer this question I have been tapping into my Inner River Guide.

In my early twenties I was a White Water River Guide (in fact I met my husband on the river) and many of my greatest lessons on answering the above question were learned on the river. Because a white water river is hectic and overwhelming and tumultuous; often how we feel in life, but turning into a stress case does not make a good guide. So here I share some of the river guide's lessons to reducing stress and living in ease.

Go with the Flow: Literally. When moving your boat in the water you must use the current to push you in the direction you want to go. In fact as a petite woman I could not use brut force to go against the current, but instead had to work with the flow to finesse my boat through the rapids. I've seen this in life too. Instead of fighting tooth and nail to move upstream, surrendering into what is and using the flow to take you where you want to go is way less work and minimal stress.

Take it one Rapid at a time: If you are in the middle of a rapid and thinking about anything other than the moment, you are likely to get rocked. So letting go of what is up ahead or what you are having for dinner or how your rent check just bounced (did I mention I was in my early twenties ) is the only way to dance through the rapid unscathed. So instead of looking at potential rapids ahead what are you in right now? What is the only decision you need to make today? In an hour? Right now?

Take an Eddy: Eddys are these beautiful calm pools that you can get your boat in and take a break. Before big rapids we usually eddy out in order to catch our breath, drink some water, and get to our calm place. Even today my husband will say to me I think we need to grab an eddy and it is our code for checking in, stepping out of the rush, and centering ourself for what is to come.

Keep Calm - Always: The last river trip I went on the other boat in our group flipped pretty bad and one of the paddlers broke his finger. As the rescue boat collecting paddlers it was easy to go into freak out mode. But ask any Rescue worker and they will say the first thing you have to do when entering a rescue is to be calm yourself. In my first responder class what is step one? Take a breath and survey the scene. When we are panicking we cannot think clearly or see the whole picture. I use this now when my son has a tantrum in public - my instinct is to freak out and carry him screaming out the door with me screaming and crying too. But this is me matching his energy and if I give myself a breath and survey the scene first I can usually figure out a calm and collected escape route without the cost of my sanity.

Use your Team: One of the best exercises that my river guide trainer used was taking away my paddle. Yeah think about that metaphor. Literally guiding a boat through rapids with only the power of our team. And boy did I get good asking my team for exactly what I needed. Left turn, right turn, forward, forward... Of course this was challenging at first - letting go of control always is - but what I found was that knowing I could count on my team meant that I didn't have to get through the rapids alone and it turned out it was way easier. My team could turn a boat in half a paddle which would take my puny biceps two or three.

So you see one way to reduce stress is to choose to live on a mellow floater river, but if you are like most of us rocking a class 4/5 it's important to keep the peace while the rapids rage on?

A recovering adrenaline junky and busy-aholic, Ariana Pritchett spent her life at a record breaking speed until the birth of her son forced her to slow down. A now urban farmer, lifestyle coach, and simplicity queen, Ariana is on a mission is to manifest simplicity and ease in our fast paced world; where creating space, living full, and being you, are all one in the same. For more about her work check out

Source: EzineArticles
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River Guides


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