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Stress and the 4 nobles truths of Buddhism

Stress and the 4 nobles truths of Buddhism.

Stress is suffering. And sometimes the reason for this suffering is connected to the workings of our mind. We are constantly bombarded by thoughts. All day long. Some of them are helpful but many are not, especially if we over identify with them. And these unhelpful thoughts can be a great source of suffering. Buddhism recognizes this as a key fact of existence...


Today I want to talk to you about spirituality.

I did this in a previous video but I want to touch on it again today. Specifically I want to share with you a little bit about Buddhism.

Why Buddhism? Because I'm very interested in Buddhism. I practice it as well to the best that I can and it has made a big difference in my ability to deal with stress.

I also am a big fan of a therapy method called ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I use it with several of my clients. ACT uses a lot of information and tools that are straight out of Buddhism and other spiritual practices.

How this connects to stress is via the Four Noble Truths. These are truths that came from the Buddha and that are an essential part of Buddhist teachings, whether Theravada or Mahayana.

The four Noble Truth are as follows:

1. Life is suffering

So it starts with suffering. Yes there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world. Suffering can come from something extremely traumatic or from day to day experiences and challenges. Things that we want and do not have or experiences that we have and do not want.

2. The reason for suffering is craving and grasping

For example, I have a thought that transports me into the 'future' and it brings me anxiety. I have a thought that transports me back into the past and it brings me a form of mild depression. I follow these thoughts into directions that are not particularly helpful. This is what we do as human beings. We have the ability to think, which is clearly wonderful, but it is also our weakness. Our ability to think means that we are bombarded all day long by these thoughts and wishes and cravings. And most of these thoughts are not useful to us. On the contrary, most of these thoughts are taking us in the direction of suffering because they focus on 'more or not enough'. We crave always more and we're not satisfied. It is never enough. This is stress.

3. Ending suffering means no longer grasping and craving

Once we understand how our cravings and gasping beings us suffering and stress, we can decide to put an end to this suffering.

4. There is a way to end suffering

Buddhism tells us about a path to follow in order to achieve the end of suffering. it is called the eight-fold-path. Without getting into the details of this 8-fold path, let's just say that if you're practicing mindfulness, you are using the path already.

For example, practicing the ability to observe your thinking process, practicing not identifying with a particular thought and not following it is key to ending the suffering of craving and grasping, and thus stress.

This takes training. In my work with my clients, I use a lot of mindfulness methods and train their cognitive flexibility: how can I become the observer of my thinking process? How can I notice when a thought is leading me in a useful direction or when a thought is leading me in the direction of a craving or of something that is not useful or positive? Many thoughts lead us in the direction of depression or anxiety or chronic stress and we have no control over these thoughts.

Unless we train, which allows us to lower suffering and stress and to recognize when our thinking patterns are taking us in the wrong direction. And stop also ourselves from always finding a reason to expect more and to want more. Because we live in a society where it's never enough, and that is a big reason for a lot of our stress.

I hope this was useful. Please reach out if you have any questions. See you soon.

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