Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Stand Like Mountain , Flow Like Water
The mountain is the metaphor.
It's hard to go anywhere these days and not engage in a conversation about stress. Like the changes we encounter daily, stress is in the air. Sociologists tell us that stress is one of the few factors that knows no demographic boundaries. It is, as the expression goes, an 'equal opportunity destroyer.'
Likewise, spirituality also knows no bounds. If you listen closely to conversations around the globe today, the topic of spirituality is surfacing everywhere. It's no coincidence, since stress and spirituality are very much connected. In fact, as the Earth spins into the next millennium, we are realizing that everything is connected.
As another expression goes, 'The darkest hour is before dawn.' Yet there is no doubt that eventually a new day will begin as well. Today, the first rays of dawn are visible. I am not alone in my thinking that this is an exciting time to be alive on the planet Earth. Excitement can be realized in many ways, and, I might add, not all favorable. Forsome, even a good change may be perceived as troublesome. But I venture to say that this sunrise will be spectacular, as well as the promise of this new day itself.
I have been attracted to mountains since my first trip to Colorado in early childhood. There is a universal appeal of mountains that goes beyond majestic vistas and scenic beauty. For me the appeal is spiritual.
Perhaps more than any other analogy, the trek toward a mountainsummit, big or small, is the epitome of the spiritual journey. In his play, K2 (named after the second highest mountain in the Himalayas ), Patrick Meyers wrote the line, 'Mountains are metaphors.' His voice echoes a common theme in the philosophical history of humanity. Reaching for the summit becomes the quintessential expression of the soul-searching process. Required by all but denied by many, this journey is not an easy one, for what some see as the destination, others see as an obstruction.
Whether it is the sublime beauty or the mystical melody, both the physical and spiritual attraction are undeniable. Indeed, the mountain is the metaphor for the human journey, and not a day goes by that we are not invited to become part of this metaphor and embrace it fully.
This book is not meant to serve as a guide in this time of tremendous change. Instead, it is my sole wish that the collective wisdom found among these pages serves as a reminder of what we already know, because the guidance we seek is really within us. We only need to remember our inherent wisdom and the innate potential of the human spirit.
Giving lectures and seminars in stress management, I often begin by saying that the information I am about to share is not new. It is merely common sense. However, I have quickly learned that when people are overwhelmed, common sense is anything but common. As you turn these pages, you should find comfort in knowing that the concepts, stories and insights of this ageless wisdom serve to awaken that which lies dormant in the unconscious mind. Once fully aware, we can enjoy the sunrisenot miss it by rolling over and falling back asleep.
In the preparation of this book, I read countless volumes on a host of topics, from psychology, theology, and quantum physics to philosophy, sociology, and mythology. Regarding human behavior, I have made an effort to place a positive light on each concept and example. I may be an eternal optimist, but I have found that over the course ofmy career as a teacher and therapist, it serves little purpose to dwell on the negative. Doing so only reinforces ideas that are contrary to those I wish to share. This is not to say that this book was written with, or should be read with, rose-colored glasses. On the other hand, life should not be lived under a cloud of pessimism, either. We must find a balance, and that is the message of this book: balance .
We are well aware of examples of stress; we encounter them daily. By learning from others who have gone before us, we, too, can move along more swiftly. As with everything in life, the best approach while reading this book is to keep an open mind and open heart. When this is done, everything else will come into balance. Writing a book about human spirituality lends itself to some significant limitations. Although limits exist, it is impossible to compose a book on this topic without making reference to the divine mystery we call God. In writing about God, it is quite easy to personify (i.e., make human) this all-encompassing and mystifying concept. I am well aware, as many of you are, that God is not a male deity, and I have made a concerted effort not to reinforce this notion with male pronouns, such as he, him, or his. Then again, there may be those of you who question or disagree with me, and I encourage this.
Some of you may even question the repeated reference to God in terms of coping with stress. This was conveyed to me recently after giving a presentation in Dayton , Ohio , on the topic of stress and spirituality. I was approached by a woman, hand outstretched, thanking me for my lecture. After releasing her grip, she put her hand to her mouth and said, 'I just want you to know that I don't believe in God, but I liked the way you weaved him in throughout your talk. It was very insightful.' Then she paused, gave me a reassuring nod with a wink, and walked away.
Our relationship with God is as unique as we are ourselves. My desire in writing this book is not to explain, define, or describe God, for this simply isn't possible. But to ignore the divine concept of life, a perception often reinforced by the fruits of technology, only leads to more strife. The dawn of this new day, the maturation of human consciousness, is the realization that there is no separation from God. All things connect. I have attempted to gently increase our comfort zones to mature and evolve our divine relationship, whatever you conceive this to be. I have done my best to leave the slate clean, so that you may continue to move toward your own understanding. Like my presentation in Dayton , I have woven the concept of God through each page. And you, like that lady in Dayton , may find yourself with a different perception than I.
So much of spiritual well-being is awareness. In an effort to promote this, I have taken the liberty of including several awareness exercises (lists). These should help increase your awareness regarding both your levels of stress and ways in which to cope with stress. So as you read this, you may want to keep a pen nearby. Finally, knowing how important humor is as a coping technique, I included several cartoons as well. Enjoy!
We never quite know what we will find on top of a mountain. We go searching for God, but sometimes it seems that all we find are foreboding clouds and bad weather. As this new day begins, the skies are abundantly clear. It is well known that mountain peaks are the first points of Earth to absorb and reflect the rays of sunshine at the start of each new day. There is something special about seeing the first rays of sunshine on the mountaintops. This itself is an invitation to journey and embrace the metaphor. As the ancient proverb states, 'Each journey begins with the first step.'
©2007. Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.,. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.