David's Interview on Stress
Updated: Mar 16
I was honored to be interviewed in the Life Alignment international newsletter which has readership in 19 countries. Here is the article.
Stress has been on everyone's lips for a long time. The subject itself is even stressful. In every magazine, whether lifestyle or management, there is at least one article that aims to help us deal with stress better. The fact that the topic is not diminishing shows that the discourse is not over yet and that no one has yet found the formula that is valid for all people. Makes sense! Not every situation is equally stressful for everyone and everyone needs different resources to build resilience.
"Stress is the subjective feeling that one's own resources are not sufficient to cope with a situation."
A change of perspective can help. If we don't look at stress as something external to us, but as something that arises within us and through us, we may be one step closer to the whole topic. In this month's newsletter I am talking to David Pasikov, the US Life Alignment coordinator about his profound experience regarding stress management.
Maggie: David, a lot of people know you without knowing the background of your connection to Life Alignment. Enlighten us please! :) Thanks, Maggie. My connection with Jeff Levin, the founder of Life Alignment, started with a chance meeting in Canada. I began my career as a science teacher in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan. That led me in the early 70’s to help found a residential school for troubled teens in Ontario, Canada, where I was originally from. In the late 70’s, Jeff and his wife, Merle, along with their children, were in the U.S. where the two of them were taking an advanced spiritual spiritual leadership course. Having heard of our school, they came for a three-day visit. That turned into three years, as we needed an architect and Jeff and Merle immediately caught the vision of what we were doing to help these struggling young people. As a result, Jeff and I worked closely together and a very deep friendship formed.
Several years later, when he began what is now known as Life Alignment, I was one of Jeff’s very first students and was in the first teachers’ class. At the time, I was a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, and when I added Life Alignment to my practice, my practice doubled within two months. People were seeking tools beyond talk therapy, and Life Alignment fit the bill then, as it most certainly does now. My career has branched into corporate training work as well as coaching and I'm often asked how I can help people with stress.
Maggie: Thanks David, why is Stress Management so important for our health?
From a physiological perspective, when we are under stress, our systems flood with biochemicals that in the short term support our survival, but a prolonged exposure to them can negatively affect our health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body” through the release of adrenaline and cortisol. They say that long-term activation of the stress response system can lead to “anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, muscle tension, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment.” The good news is that we are not stuck with only these outcomes. Life Alignment is a remarkable tool to help lift and shift stuck patterns and open a door for a new outlook on life.
Regarding Stress Management, there are a whole host of priorities and procedures in the system of Life Alignment to support our clients, such as: Stress, Trauma, Shock, Adrenal Glands, Autonomic Nervous System (including Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System), Respiratory System (to help regulate breathing), Cardiovascular System (to help regulate the heart) to name just a few, and in the advanced levels of this work there are more tools available to us, such as the Amygdala point, etc.
For me this wide array of tools underscores how important Stress Management is in terms of our health, and as a therapist and as a coach, I am so very thankful to have them in my toolbox.
“The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body” Dr. Bruce Lipton
Maggie: That sounds very promising, indeed! Can you explain in detail how Life Alignment helps to rewrite our internal chemistry and accelerates Stress Management? When Philippa Lubbock was writing her first book on Life Alignment,The Healing Power of Life Alignment, she invited me to share my perspective and experience with her, and she added my explanation of how Life Alignment can be used as a transformational tool (page 95). Here is her explanation of this model which I call the “Revolving Door:”
“Our problems are the result of wiring that has become faulty. Life Alignment techniques rewire the mind’s circuit board so that we break the patterns that have formed and created a limited picture of reality. The small picture looks something like this:
In a [Life Alignment] balance, we return to an EXPERIENCE. An experience teaches us certain things about life, about other people, about relationships, and so we gather INSIGHTS based on our experience. Over time, and with additional experiences, those insights become part of our BELIEFS. Because we see life through the filters of our beliefs, we make ASSUMPTIONS about how things will work out. Our assumptions tend to set us up for particular experiences… which reinforce our beliefs, and so we pass through the same revolving door of repeating patterns. We break the pattern by discharging suppressed feelings associated with our beliefs.”
Philippa followed this with an explanation on how Life Alignment helps people exit the revolving door of repeating patterns. I find that more often than not, those suppressed feelings associated with our beliefs fall into the category of stress, and, in the extreme, trauma.
Maggie: Do you have any suggestions as to how people can shift out of these stress symptoms on their own?
I frequently find myself mentioning to my clients that we are in the process of transforming stress into strength through our work together. In addition to the Revolving Door model, I have developed a model for stress management which has proven to be valuable to my clients over the years. It is what I employ to manage my own stress, and, in the process, to regulate my biochemistry from depleting my resiliency to as Dr. Lipton said, “rewriting the chemistry” of my body with: melatonin, serotonin, GABA, DHEA, endorphins, klotho, etc.
Many years ago, my family was living in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a spiritual community in New England, in the United States. Winters can be frigid there and the heating system depended on wood for heat. We harvested our own wood from the property which took considerable effort and time.
The main dwellings, including ours, each had a furnace which was comprised of a boiler. We fed wood into it, which subsequently heated water, which built pressure in the boiler. When the thermostat in the house called for heat, the hot water would circulate through radiators in the house, keeping it comfortable.
On a mild day, if we put too much wood on the fire, the house wasn’t calling for heat and the pressure would continue to build up in the boiler. To prevent the boiler from exploding, a valve would open to what was literally called the “dump zone,” and the excess heat was dumped into the room next to the furnace room, turning it into a sauna. The house was safe, but all the effort to harvest the wood was wasted.
At times, the dump zone was insufficient to regulate the pressure and a “safety valve” would open at the top of the boiler flooding the furnace room with steam, and the boiler made a racket like a two-ton tea kettle. This pressure regulator kept us all safe. I quickly saw this old-fashioned technology as a metaphor for stress management, and I am happy to share it with you.
A) Heat Source In real life, we have several sources of stress, such as work demands, financial issues, family matters, etc. This can include particular people and the stresses they bring.
B) Pressure (Energy) The sources of stress impact us, and we experience the pressures as feelings like anger, frustration, despair, etc. This pressure, in a sense, is energy that can be used either constructively (C) or destructively (D).
C) Creative Channel for Release Just as Valve #1 would open and allow heat to circulate through the house, we can use the pressure of stress constructively to empower us to move forward with our lives. If the boiler was on a locomotive, the energy would be used to move the train down the track. For instance, if in B) a person had lots of financial worries, in C) he or she could harness that pressure through activities like budgeting, trimming expenses, changing jobs, etc.
D) Dump Zone This is one of the safety mechanisms whereby the excess heat energy was dumped into the room next door. We too have the option of wasting the energy, although in our case it would be wasted in dysfunction. We even refer to what I’m about to describe as, “blowing off steam.” Note: For me, the ABC’s of Ineffective Communication are: Accusation, Blame and Criticism (dumping on others). Dumping on self would be self-accusation, self-blame, and self-criticism. The Dump Zone is often taken as a shortcut to releasing pressure, but more often than not, it adds more pressure to the boiler through fractured relationships with others and ultimately with oneself.
E) Safety Valve In this metaphor, the safety valve represents things we can do creatively to “take the edge off.” I like to look at this as activities to “feed one’s soul.” This list could include things like talking to a friend, meditation, prayer, exercise, being in nature, reading an inspirational book, self-care such as body work, Life Alignment balances etc. I encourage the frequent use of the safety valve in order to manage overload. It does not have to be a last resort like it is in the mechanical boiler.
This model has served both me and my clients well over the years, and I hope it helps you too. If any of your readers have any questions, my email is email@example.com. Thanks very much, Maggie!
Maggie: These are very practical tips. You give Stress Management and Life Alignment not only mental and emotional, but also biological and physical meaning and thus, logical connections. Thank you so much.