Some mornings, even before we open our eyes, we begin working fervently to set upon a path of ruining our own day. Why and how does this occur? There are a few reasons, all of which come down to improper preparation from the prior evening.

Preventative measures aside, what are we to do once we set the wheels of discontent in motion? A clear understanding of the situation is vital. Undoubtedly, our physical, emotional and/or mental bodies are suffering under the weight of unmanageable stress. There are two productive methods of resolving the negative spiritual consequences of this stress, assuming inadequate prevention.

We can decrease or eliminate the impacts of external stressors, and we can strengthen the bodies' natural coping capacity. This does not require a total cessation of external pressure, nor necessarily a need to escape the situation at hand. These latter two approaches are temporary at best, and can lead to a gradual incapacitation of the individual's bodily foundations.

Following the path laid out by Nature, let us first focus on minimizing impacts, as the careful consideration called for will lead to an accurate determination of the exact areas requiring strengthening. In simple terms, stop stomping on the plants before worrying about watering them.

It is useful to cease all action, words, and runaway thought processes, taking the idiomatic 'five' to trace the root physical sensation(s) that have ignited the chain reaction of mental & emotional chaos.

Very likely, we have neglected our health. A very good place to start is with gently downing a glass or two of water, and follow up with a relaxing shower. I suggest this for primarily esoteric reasons, as I am in no way qualified to offer medical advice, nor am I suggesting it will be in any physical way useful. Whether it is or not is inconsequential to our current course of discussion.

For all of water's observable, 'scientific' effects, it is also one of the most powerful & effective spiritual cleansers (perhaps second only to fire, as we shall cover shortly). Throughout our sleeping hours, our unresolved issues, dream experiences, and inadequately supported bodily functions can crystallize into a sort of spiritual buildup of internal tensions (not strictly physical, although of course, such manifestations are quite possible).

Water gets our energies moving again, similar to physical exertion, although that typically tends to reflect more of the fire element (there are exceptions though, gentle walking, Qigong & Tai Chi are some quick examples), and is less gentle. We can visualize (or feel) our troubles loosening up and washing down the drain with the water. Water can help us shift from a tense, combative, self-sabotaging mood, to a more receptive, relaxed state of existence (if we allow it to).

The Earth element, and Her associated lifeforms (plants & trees) connect us with a security, stability, and grounding energy, and Air reveals to us the greater Universal organism, through Prana breath (not merely physical 'air', but energy), balancing stabilizing energies. Likewise, Water & Fire balance more transformational energies.

Fire is our stress, providing conditions that clear the way (at times, forcibly) for future growth. This is clearly seen in Nature when forest fires enable new seeds to take root and sprout. Fire is related to the death and destruction aspect of Nature's cycle of rebirth, while Water is involved in the birthing and creative process.

In modern society, we live in very imbalanced conditions, with Fire & Air tending to be a bit out of hand. As we come to recognize the various (ever-changing) 'flavors' of our personal energy fields, we can begin to take earlier corrective, preventative, rebalancing actions (or inaction, as necessary). It's all about Balance, not 'right' or 'wrong'.

Irritation is a strong 'flavor' of excessive (more accurately, a level above our current capacity) Fire energy, and just as physical water can extinguish physical fire, it can also ease the cooling down of our mentally & emotionally manifested spiritual dissonance (tension). Even if we feel sluggish, this is often due to constriction caused by a natural reflexive response to the fires of growth.

Why does this happen? Simply, we do not conserve our energy wisely, nor do we prepare to meet the incoming pressures of the growth process. In fact, and this is where we begin covering the second interventionary method, we dread this process, awaiting it bleakly with a sense of impending doom. This unease, fear, and/or despair drives us into a entropic and cyclical search for 'better' & 'more effective' escape mechanisms.

If we consider Nature's ever-present example, we can learn that growth is both inevitable, and ultimately, positive & constructive to the well-prepared organism. So what makes humans so ill-prepared?

Humans are unique in Nature, in that we put much of our creative mental, emotional, and physical energies into an attempt to create a world in which Nature no longer reigns supreme. Unfortunately for us, this seems to represent a hard limit to our earthly (and eternal) capabilities. For whatever reason, probably for the best, Nature simply refuses to budge, always enforcing Her edicts in the end.

We desperately cling to this false hope that we will succeed where all others have failed, and it is this obstinance that becomes our undoing (this is why humans tend to die, but that's a whole book of its own). As we review our lives, bringing unblemished clarity of vision, we can each confirm the essential, unwavering Truth of Nature's dominance.

We can embrace this Truth, going with whatever happens, offering less (or no) resistance, using our instinct to resist against our own internal destructive urges, rather than externalizing them in a cosmic showdown, where we will face spectacular defeat.

Just relax into the stress, and it will melt away. I encourage you to give it a try. What do we have to lose, but our unhelpful dispositions?