27 August 2010

Stress and Spirit

It is important to me that I maintain a focus on the subject of this blog - chronic pain and the spiritual life: how they intersect and affect one another.  My most recent post (25August) was about Dr. Herbert Benson and his relaxation response, specifically, in regards to his new book about remembered visualization and meditation.  Briefly, today, I want to explain how I see this relating to the overall topic of my blog.

I have my brother, Bill Marsh, to thank for the idea of using photos as tools to meditation.

Try to commit to giving close attention to this photo, letting go of what you feel you should be doing right now:

Mt. Edith Cavell / Canadian Rockies

What do you  notice as you sit still and look? 

Perhaps some inner stillness rises to the surface of your attention, or your breath slows, some muscles suddenly let go of long-held tension, or you simply realize how driven you have been so far today.

Can you allow that feeling to deepen?

Moraine Lake / Canadian Rockies

Whatever you are touching right now in your spirit, however you name it, to Whom- or Whatever you attribute it, you have likely experienced a reduction, however slight, in the stress under which we all live day by day.

This space - this quieter, more still, deeper space - is what allows us to touch the Divine .... the Face of God ... the Greatness of Allah ...

Now, what Dr. Benson is saying is that our ability to reduce stress in our lives has a beneficial effect on our physical health and even can change our genetic predispositions as they are manifested in the way our brain responds to the stress of illness, daily life, or poor mental health.  As I said before, my own experience in overcoming generalized anxiety disorder attests that such changes are real.

Ice berg at the foot of Mt. Edith Cavell

You have just demonstrated to yourself that reducing stress allows you to approach the peaceful stillness of your spirit.

I would love to hear from you.  Please use the Comment section below, or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.


  1. Right on, Carol! And bless your brother, Bill, for his inspiring photography. After a decade in the forest and mountains near Yosemite, I still wonder why it is so difficult for us humans to put ourselves in nature, to allow God's beauty to touch us in deep, wonderful, healing ways.

    "When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
    and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
    when I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
    and see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
    then sings my soul, my savior God, to thee,
    how great thou art, how great thou art
    then sings my soul, my savior God, to thee,
    how great thou art, how great thou art."

  2. Moraine Lake / Canadian Rockies I could meditate on that for hours- reflection pictures make a great muse. And that photo with trees, mountains, water and snow is perfect.

  3. Paul - I do believe that living in the city - and possibly the 'burbs - takes a toll on our spirit by placing us so very far from the grandeur and beauty of Creation. (And I did not mean to imply that Bill was the photographer: I took these photos on a trip to the Rockies in Fall 2008. I got the idea to use them from some of Bill's posts of his own photos, which are marvelous).

    Bill - yes, that is my favorite of the three. And I love your "muse" musing.

  4. so true, Carol...and hence our desire to return physically to these beautiful spots whenever we can!

  5. Well said, Lista. I have never felt closer to God than when in the Canadian Rockies, and I long to return.