"With perception, there is deception."
One of my favorite quotes from the eleven week class I recently completed titled, "Mindfulness in Everyday Life." To me this quote is helpful in understanding how our own preconceived notions, experiences and ideas can change the way we see the world. By recognizing our judgments and associations we might begin to see things differently or at least begin to be more conscious that are minds are deceiving us. Things are never as they seem to be.
Becoming conscious of our minds deceptive and distracting nature is one way to help reduce stress in everyday life. If instead of worrying about a particular topic, we simply recognize the worry and the feeling and body sensations that go along with it, we can actually reduce the worry. Here is an example: Say you have a fear of dogs. Whenever there is a dog in your presence, you get tense and your blood pressure rises (body sensations) and remember the dog that bit you as a child (association). Your mind tells you the situation is dangerous (judgment) and you feel fear (label). If you take the body sensation, association, judgment and labels and begin to think of them as visitors and as merely thoughts separate from your self, the worry can be lessened. Using the same example: a dog is in my presence and I can feel my body tense and blood pressure rise. The memory that I have as a child, is simply that, a memory. I realize that I am judging this situation based on my past experience and I feel a sensation, a visiting sensation that is not really a part of me, but a visitor.
This model can be applied to all sorts of worry-- paying the bills, getting to work on time, meeting with a supervisor, etc. and over time will help with overall stress reduction. Stress reduction can prevent many disease states and is a crucial component of wellness.