Sharon Ufberg, DC discusses a real life lesson in maintaining peace of mind through after a stressful event.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

As I was working on my column this month, I was also preparing for a much anticipated vacation to Greece. The column idea that was developing discussed stress, or rather the need for each of us to de-stress and create more opportunities to rejuvenate, relax and enjoy life. The idea began to gel as I landed late at night in Mykonos, toasted my first Ouzo and then crawled into bed anticipating my seven days of sun, sand, long walks on the beach, hearty swims and deep sleep.

Then I was robbed. I awoke late morning to a bright sun and an empty space where my laptop, travel messenger bag and purse had been placed the night before. At first I thought I was just confused or mistaken. Surely I would not sleep through a break-in, not while someone grabbed my belongings beside my bed and waltzed out the balcony doors.
But I did. And everything was gone. The laptop, PDA telephone, camera, wallet, glasses, ID, flash drive, journal and more. I felt my heart racing and my head began to spin. At first I thought I would throw up but then I decided to go out onto my balcony and try and breath and center myself before beginning to process the consequences of the lose.

I stood up, closed my eyes and did some breath work. When I opened my eyes I saw a magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea. I said aloud, “I am surrounded here by such beauty.” Then I looked down and saw that my compassionate thief had thrown back my passport, credit cards and writings onto the deck below. This thief had actually put these items into a bag and left them for me! With these essential items found I could still enjoy my trip! I did take some effort to get over the shock of the incident but I was determined to use the experience as an opportunity to adopt the practices I so often proclaim to be important. I needed to engage the tools that I read and have written about whole heartedly.

It was time to live and think and put into action the Buddhist philosophy I so admired.
I realized my happiness did not depend at all on all the “precious items” that I had stolen from me. I mourned the loss of my contact list and my pictures but the freedom of no longer being tied to a calendar or schedule soon felt very refreshing.  My initial vulnerability gave way to an openness that resulted in the meeting of many wonderful people and allowed me to experience the abundance of the Greek Isles fabulous food, beaches and sunsets in a new light.

When I revisited my earlier notes about de-stressing our lives I had to laugh aloud. My advice was practical and earnest but had missed the most profound point which now appeared so obvious. One does not cope or de-stress with any success through life’s obstacles and trials without a commitment, practice or pool of resources to pull from when most needed. The life lesson for me was to recognize the importance of collecting a reservoir of knowledge and tools to draw from every day and then again especially when faced with a crisis.

Whether it is through reading or meditation, prayer, yoga or breath work, exercise or therapy; each of us needs creative and significant “inner software” to open when we least anticipate needing it. As practitioners we are also often called upon to share these tools and methods with our patients. Spending some time engaged in this consciousness has served me well.

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