Marty Kleva, BS, MA

There is a great deal of discussion today that includes the topics of stress and stress reduction. It is in the forefront of our culture, evidenced by the innumerable studies that examine the causes of stress, and by the amount of coverage in the media regarding these two subjects.

How does stress appear in our personal life? What triggers it? A common trigger occurs when another driver cuts in front of us during rush hour traffic, which admittedly can be exasperating, or the trigger may be something as simple as mislaying our car keys. Whichever the case, both of these are stressors.

What is important is the attention and awareness that we have to our reactions regarding the stressors. Do we give the guy who cut in front of us the finger, or curse and swear at him, even as we ride his bumper? Or do we utter a curse word, and then readjust our driving to accommodate the imposition and move on?

The case of the missing keys is another matter. There is no other person involved. Yet we can be just as exasperated by it as we are by the guy who cuts in front of us in traffic.

Being aware of how we handle the situation is at the crux of the issue around the effects stress has on us personally. Stressors will never go away. It remains for us to figure out how to interact with them. However, we can be sure that they will show up in the most inconvenient times and places.

There can be one hundred people who experience the exact same stressor, yet the result will not be the same experience of stress for all one hundred. In fact there will most likely be one hundred different reactions to the same event, to both greater and lesser degrees.

Stressors that come from our external environment may be obvious, as in the examples above. Yet there are just as powerful stress motivators in the internal environment of our body that mostly originate from the way we think. The stressors in the internal environment are not as obvious as the ones we experience in our external environment. The internal stressors reside in a very complex and invisible part of our make-up called the psyche. There are many ways to explore this non-physical and elusive, yet integral part of who we are as a human being.

As a life interest, I explore both the psyche and the subject of stress in this masters thesis, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Path To Individuation Through The Hero’s Journey: A Phenomenological Study. I was acting purely out of my instinct to group the subjects of the mind and body together: the topic of somatics through the lens and theories of Wilhelm Reich and Arnold Mindell, and the topic of how we think as seen through the great mind of Carl Jung. Then, using the practice of Mindfulness, an ancient Buddhist tradition of insight meditation, this study explores the world of both mind and body together.

Each of these subjects can be daunting in themselves. Thankfully, many have devoted their life to the exclusive study of only one of these topics. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Path To Individuation Through The Hero’s Journey: A Phenomenological Study undertakes the task to discover the value of weaving the two subjects of body and mind together. Along the way, I re-discover the psyche, and the powerful effects it has on each of our lives.

In this study, completed in 1997, and which remains one of my personal guides for everyday living, there are the incredible stories of the participants in the phenomenological research project conducted. Each of these participants, who are working to relieve the symptoms of stress for reasons of health, goes through a process which can be related to the very theories of Reich, Mindell, and Jung.

These remarkable stories are some of the most courageous ones I have ever encountered. Be inspired by reading about their lives as they learn how to handle stress through the classes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

I promise, although the thesis is an academic work, it is easy reading. It flows like a book, and is not written in stuffy academic highbrow language. Anyone will be able to identify with the material, and personally gain something from it.

click here to download thesis.pdf (1.3Mb)

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