Perpetually Stressed?

Overwhelmed? Overloaded? Over-scheduled? Overstimulated? We are bombarded every single day with information from a multitude of sources, and our minds have been trained to absorb this onslaught, this rapid-fire of words and images and sounds. As if this isn’t enough to overwhelm, most of us also have an insane To-Do List. Much is expected and much needs to be done, often just to catch up.

All of this can be hard enough to navigate on its own; when you throw in a cancer diagnosis, our stress levels amplify. Many of our clients relate that they are perpetually stressed in their attempt to maintain their “old life” while going through the rigors of cancer treatment. Many have discovered that, in the midst of all this business of doing, they have lost sight of what really matters.


Making Time for the Heart

I took this photograph driving into Santa-Fe from Albuquerque. This open, spacious landscape never fails to  replenish and nourish my spirit.

I took this photograph driving into Santa-Fe from Albuquerque. This open, spacious landscape never fails to replenish and nourish my spirit.

I’ve been reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by one of my all-time favorite authors, Wayne Muller. That he lives in one of my most beloved cities in the U.S. – Santa Fe – is just one of the things I like about this man. I appreciate his direct approach, his simple yet deeply insightful way of looking at this crazy, full-throttle world we live in. He reminds us that there are different kinds of time: mental time and emotional time. Mind time and heart time. Our culture, he points out, has taught us to live mostly in “mind time.” Our heads have been trained to keep up with this fast-paced information age we live in, and our “heart time” suffers because it cannot travel at light speed. It needs a slower rhythm “to process, understand, and allow in the rich array of disparate feelings, emotions, spiritual events, however pleasant or deeply painful” they may be. We need unhurried time to digest and fully appreciate the life we are living.

Milagros of the heart that I photographed while in Santa Fe.

Milagros of the heart that I photographed while in Santa Fe.

The guidance of the human heart is one of the tools we have been given to teach us about how to experience time. Wayne Muller challenges us to think of time not as something we use or have but how we might be used or taught by time itself. At the end of the chapter “The Speed of the Mind and Heart,” he offers a poem by Mark Nepo, “The Practice Before The Practice.” It’s a poem about being before doing. My favorite lines are:

…In Africa, before the
children are allowed to drum, they must rub
each part of the skin and wood and dream
of the animals whose hearts will guide their

Going at a Slower Pace

Perpetually stressed? Consider traveling a bit more at the leisurely speed of the heart. At Healing Icons, we encourage quiet creative practices that allow open spaces where stresses can soften and begin to disappear.

What are some of the things you do to let go of stress? Share it with us in a comment below.


  1. Agata on January 10, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I swim!

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on January 10, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Agata, I used to be a synchronized swimmer in college and had forgotten how there is such a wonderful release in taking a plunge. Oh, the healing powers of water.

      • Donna McGreevy on January 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

        I can only imagine how difficult synchronized swimming is. For some reason the Icon logo blocked the first part of your comment.

  2. Donna McGreevy on January 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Since my cancer diagnosis I stopped wearing a watch. I used to only do this during vacation. It’s seem to make time pass at a more calm and peaceful pace. Perhaps this is one way to find “heart time” versus “mind time”.

    • Heidi Darr-Hope on January 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Donna. Figuring out how to open ourselves up to looking at and experiencing time differently can be difficult and this is a terrific suggestion! Thanks.

    • Deana Rennick on January 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      I forgot that I used to purposely not wear a watch! When I got to grad school and I really, really needed to know what time it was (counting the chimes on the church wasn’t working so well…) I got a little charm that looked like a ladybug, and when the wings opened it was a clock. I loved it! : )

      • Deana Rennick on January 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm

        Since it was a beautiful little charm, I loved having it around, and I only checked the time when I needed to, rather than just as a reflexive moment…maybe I should do the same with my smart phone these days! : )

  3. Michelle Baker on January 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I think that time spent with animals, pets, is a good way to let go of stress. They just seem to take life as it comes.

    • Selena Brunson-Brown on January 19, 2015 at 2:40 am

      I pray. Music helps me refocus my thoughts. I start counting my blessings.

    • Deana Rennick on January 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      I agree. My son wanted a puppy since he was tiny, and two years ago we ended up with two! I never realized just how much I would love them, and how much comfort they would bring at the end of a long day.

      • Heidi Darr-Hope on January 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm

        Speaking of animals, there is a terrific book – Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats by Eckhart Tolle. You can find it in our amazon “store” – check out top navigation bar on this page. Everyone should own a copy of this book.

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