Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2010
Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 2010

It is Breast Cancer Awareness month and multitudes of people are gathering together for the "cause." That is easy to see all around you, particularly during the month of October. But what about one of the underlying causes of breast cancer? Stress. As a stage three breast cancer survivor, I admit that stress creeps in constantly through the cracks as the "what if" thoughts swim through my mind, not to mention the physical response to stress.

Back pain, muscle tension, teeth grinding, upset stomach, headaches, foggy thinking, moods swings, fatigue, irritability… any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? The cause? Stress. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, about half of Americans feel their stress has increased over the past five years and three quarters of Americans experience stress related symptoms every month.

A recent study using mice out of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center revealed that chronic stress acts as a fertilizer that feeds breast cancer progression. Being that I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer one week prior to my final divorce court date, this finding did not surprise me at all. I think we can all agree that stress does not promote a healthy environment within the Earth suit.

So here’s a question to ponder: “Can I live my life day in and day out on Earth without all of the stress, no matter what unfolds before me?” Before answering that question it is important to explore what exactly stress is, along with gaining insight into your role in creating stress. Stress is simply a signal within your body giving you the opportunity to do two very crucial things:

• Identify that which is causing you the tense reaction within your body
• Adjust your perception of the situation giving you the opportunity to shift your reaction

Identify and adjust. This should be a daily practice for keeping the peace in our house. How do you identify what is stressing you out? Start with focusing on how it is manifesting in your body. What are you experiencing, physically? Are your shoulders up in your ears? Have you consumed five chocolate bars in less than 5 minutes? Having chronic headaches? Do you say things like, “I don’t know why I overreacted like that?” Do you lie awake at night consumed in the fog of the future or regrets from the past?

Identifying the physical first, and then understanding that the physical expression is a direct result of a perception you hold about the situation is the first step toward shifting your response to the world around you. After you have specifically identified your physical response to the perceived stressor, ask yourself this question: “What emotion or false belief do I have behind this physical symptom?” Or “What is behind the pain?”

Believe it or not, you always know what is behind the physical pain, and you just forgot or have disconnected from it in order to survive. You only have 5% of the conscious mind to work with during your day. The rest of your reactions all flow from your subconscious experience on Earth. So 95% of all your reactions in life are being downloaded from your past files that are made up of the beliefs you have made about yourself, along with other information you saved and gave permission to define who you are. The good news is, if you gave the power away to a belief about yourself, you have the power to take it back if it no longer serves you in life. These “false” beliefs result in a lot of unnecessary daily anxiety.

Often an event, person or situation will trigger a past distressing memory or belief about yourself, which actually causes a freeze effect in your body, resulting in some physical or emotional pain. This is the “deer in the headlights” response which leads to stress in the body.
So again, stress is a signal in your body, the “deer in the headlights” response to life giving you the opportunity to identify and adjust your perception of a particular situation and along with it, your response.

Imagine you have this huge blank dry erase wall behind you when you start your journey on Earth. As you take in and process information, you begin to write down your beliefs on this wall. You begin to process other information from the world around you in light of the “writing on your wall” and you do it every day. So why wouldn’t you erase the writing that no longer serves you? Human beings gravitate toward that which is familiar, even if it is destructive to your wellbeing. You have to give yourself permission to feel safe with the unfamiliar in order to begin making a shift in your perception of you in this world.

Stress Relief
Stress Relief

If you are familiar with the belief, “In order to feel worthwhile in life, there has to be a struggle,” you will gravitate toward the struggle in life, because you have linked a part of your sense of self-worth to the “struggle.” Try the simple reframe, “Even though I have identified with the struggle my whole life, I am willing to love and accept myself anyway, and I choose to feel safe letting go and pursuing the ease of life.”

Here are some examples of “writing on the wall” messages to help you identify your emotion or belief behind the physical pain: I’m unlovable; I’m flawed; I’m insignificant; I’m unforgivable; people are out to get me; It’s not fair; I must be perfect in order to be loved; people must think well of me; something must change for me to feel ok about me; I’m hopeless and worthless; life is hopeless; I must be in control in order to feel safe; everything needs to be in order for me to feel good and safe; I’m not capable… all of these messages that replay over and over again lead to daily stress in the body.

What messages did you learn growing up that no longer serve you in life? Reframing and releasing these messages are essential when making the shift back to inner peace. A little exercise often referred to as “soul retrieval” involves making a list of every event and person in your life that you allowed to define you, or that you handed your pen over to and allowed them to write messages on your wall that do not promote inner peace. Take back your pen and erase every message that continues to play within you that disrupts your sense of connection to inner peace.

Once you have your list, choose the events and people that create the highest emotional charge for you and apply the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) described below in order to get your energy behind the shift. In order to stop the craze of the inner critic, you must re-record over those false beliefs. How? By releasing the “deer in the headlights” response that has kept you in a state of emotional paralysis as a result of the power you gave to these people and events to define who you are in this life. God defines who you are: you are beautifully and wonderfully created to love and be loved. Mother Teresa proclaimed, “Life is to love and be loved.”

When you forget this, the craze of fear, doubt and worry takes over. Fear, doubt and worry all flow from the negative writing on your walls: “I can’t handle this… I’m not safe… I might die.” Where did you learn this? Whose face is behind this? These are questions to ask yourself when you feel the negative emotions in your body.

What is EFT? EFT is acupuncture without the needles. It is often referred to as emotional acupuncture. It is a very easy technique that involves identifying and adjusting your perceptions of situations and therefore your entire emotional and physical response to them. It is physiological in nature, similar to a physical therapist adjusting your body in order to maximize your natural healing capacity. By using your fingertips to tap on certain points on your body, you release the “freeze” that takes place when you are emotionally and physically stressed. When you take away the freeze, the body knows what to do in order to heal. The body also knows what needs to be released, adjusted, accepted, or forgiven in order for inner healing to take place. You often forget who you are in the midst of the pain and false beliefs. EFT is a mechanical tool that helps you remove the blocks that prevent you from remembering who you are as connected to God… capable of moving mountains.

There is an electrical circuit that runs through your body and sends messages to your brain controlling all of your functions, both emotional and physical. These centers are found in different places along the electrical circuit of your body and are called meridians. The following meridian points are used in EFT: the soft side of your hand along the outside base of your pinky down to your wrist bone, the beginning of your eyebrows, the point between the outside corner of your eyes and your temple, under your eyes on the top of your cheekbones, under your nose, under your lip, your collarbone to the right or left side of the u-shaped dip at the base of your neck, under either arm along the bra strap line, and on top of your head.

Negative emotions cause a disruption in your body’s energy flow at the meridian centers. Your body then becomes unbalanced, which results in both physical and emotional stress. By gently tapping on the body’s meridian points listed above, you access your body’s energy system. The result is physical and emotional relief.

As you tune into your distressing event, memory or physical pain (being as specific as possible) while tapping with your fingers on the different energy points (meridians), you are able to collapse the negative charge that you are holding onto around the physical or emotional pain. The result is basically a rewiring of your energetic system that is in a “frozen” state due to the emotional or physical trauma.

Imagine your life on a timeline and you have the ability to view your entire life from a perspective of floating above that timeline. Ask yourself, “When was a time in my life when I did not feel this negative emotion?” Be still, watch and see what pops up. Once you have a specific time in mind allow yourself to breathe deeply as you connect to the positive feelings surrounding that experience. Whatever you focus on grows bigger quickly… positive or negative. When you allow yourself to reconnect with past positive feelings and then re-enter the situation that is causing you anxiety, you will often find yourself shifting to a positive perception.

Stress Relief
Stress Relief

The Institute of HeartMath, founded by Doc Childre has produced scientific evidence that backs up the “intelligent heart” theory and the physiological benefits that result from heart based living. HeartMath offers a powerful technique called a Heart Lock-In which gives you the opportunity to connect to a positive feeling that you have experienced in your life. You can do a Heart Lock-In very easily throughout your day. Breathe deeply in and out to the count of five. Shift out of your head and into your heart. Recall a feeling of appreciation and love for someone or some experience. Connect to how you feel when you recall this situation. Stay with this feeling for several minutes, relaxing and breathing it into your whole body. Then return to your current situation. Again, when you connect to a positive feeling in the midst of a negative one you reconnect with your ability to choose peace in the midst of pain. God dwells within the human heart and all wisdom and inspiration flow from the heart. The head dwells on the past and on the future, making assumptions, creating attachments, needing to own, control and possess rather than simply experiencing life and people. Yes, you can think from your heart and it is your choice all day long.

Is it possible to live life without the stress? Yes. Remember, you are not a victim in life unless you choose to be. You cannot always help what unfolds before you but you can always choose your response to it. Look at life as a schoolhouse of opportunity for learning and growth in the ways of love and inner peace. Be curious rather than reactive, ask “how” and “what” questions which lead to creative solutions, rather than “why” questions that keep you stuck in emotional paralysis. You now have a few tools to help you shift from stress to peace.

Lauren Miller has received national recognition in Redbook and Ladies Home Journal, along with the International Journal of Healing and Care. She has shared stress relief tips on local and national television. With ten years of proven experience and eighteen years of intensive extended education in the areas of anxiety and stress reduction, Lauren works with men and women worldwide, empowering them with techniques to live life without stress through one-on- one coaching, seminars and workshops. Her first published book “Hearing His Whisper... A Journey through Cancer and Divorce” is an Amazon best-seller and Indie Book Award Winner.

For more information about Lauren Miller and to learn about her “Release the Stress” series, visit