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Gina Lake – How to Create Stress (And How Not To)

by Gina Lake

• Think about all the things you have to do. Do this as you are going about your day. Go over your to-do list mentally many times a day, especially in the midst of doing something. Then talk about how much you have to do and how busy you are with everyone.

• Keep checking the time, and think about time a lot: how much time something took, how much time something takes, how much time something will take, how much time you have left. Tell yourself you don’t have enough time, or worry that you don’t.

• Constantly evaluate how you’re doing as you go about your day: “Did I do that well enough?” “Could I have done it better or faster?” “How did it compare with last time or with how someone else does it?” “How could or should I do it next time?”

• Say yes to every request from others that comes your way. Believe that you should be able to do it all—everything you think you need to do and everything everyone else wants you to do. Assume that everyone else is juggling all these things perfectly.

• Don’t take time to rest or do the things you’d really like to do. Don’t expect or allow yourself to enjoy life—just get things done, as much as you can fit in, in one day! Be efficient. Don’t make happiness, love, or peace a priority. Don’t make your Self a priority, but your goals or everyone else’s needs.

• Tell negative stories about life, yourself and your life, and other people: “I can’t do anything right,” “Life is too hard,” “No one will ever love me,” “I will never be happy,” and so on (What do you tell yourself that causes you to feel unhappy and stressed?).

Pic by Sherri Rosaldo

The good news is that all of this stress-creation is happening within your own mind! The reason this is good news is that you don’t have to believe everything that goes through your mind. You can learn to ignore the mind when it is producing thoughts that create stress, and when you do, you will no longer feel stressed. Stress is not caused by life itself, but by what we tell ourselves about life, by how we choose to think and what we choose to believe.

Thinking is nearly always bound to create stress because the voice in our head (also called the egoic mind) is a primarily negative voice and a time tyrant. This voice keeps us tied to it with fears, worries, admonitions, judgments, and commands. It’s a tyrant that, with its constant evaluations and demands, keeps us unhappy. We all have a similar tyrannical voice in our head, but we don’t have to give it our attention. Instead, we can learn to be very present to whatever we are doing, which is actually very efficient. But more importantly, being present to what we are doing results in enjoyment of life.

When we are present to what we are doing instead of to the voice in our head and its demands and judgments, we feel peace, love, happiness, and contentment. These states are not achieved by following the voice in our head, but by ignoring the voice in our head and simply experiencing life without the mind’s constant commentary. What creates stress? This ongoing mental commentary does. This is a great discovery because it means we have the power to free ourselves from stress once we learn to detach from this voice and stop believing it and catering to it. This isn’t as hard to do as you might think, but you have to be willing to see the truth about this voice: It is not helpful, and you don’t need it to run your life. It is the problem and not the solution to how to live your life and be happy.


So here is how not to create stress:

• Get really involved in whatever you are doing. Experience it fully with all of your senses. Stay in the experience of the present moment, not in thoughts about what you are doing, thoughts about the past, or thoughts about the future.

• Don’t listen to the mind’s judgments and negativity.

• Do what you do out of joy as it naturally arises to be done, not because your mind is pushing you to do it.

• Stop setting arbitrary timelines and making lists of things that need to get done within a certain time frame. Don’t think about what you have to do or plan to do. Just be present to whatever you are doing.

• Rest and be kind to yourself. Do what brings you joy, peace, and love. Make love and happiness a priority rather than getting things done. You’ll find that many of the things you think you need to get done don’t actually need to get done. They aren’t as important as your mind thinks they are. What do you really want? If peace and love are what you really want, then don’t let the mind steal those from you. Move out of the mind and into the moment.

*Gina Lake is a non-dual spiritual teacher whose teachings are similar to Eckhart Tolle’s. After having a spiritual awakening in 1999, Gina has dedicated herself to helping others discover their true nature and live in the moment through her books, counseling, and intensives. She has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and over twenty years experience supporting people in their spiritual growth as an astrologer and a channel. She is the author of eight books.


living_in_the_now embracing_the_now radical_happiness anatomy_of_desire
return_to_essence choosing_love getting_free what_about_now


Gina lives with her husband Nirmala (a spiritual teacher in the Advaita tradition) in Sedona, Arizona where they also host weekend intensives.

Her website offers information about her books and consultations, free e-books, book excerpts, a free monthly newsletter, a blog, and audio and video recordings.

7 responses

  1. Wonderful, inspirational as always, dearest Gina, so lovely to see you here, dear friend!
    I love your books as you well know, and always such beautiful cover art each time!

    Thanks so much for your fantastic site, dear Matt! I so enjoy your work and hats off also to you for featuring women, some non dual sites mostly feature dudes ( is that the correct American term, or should it have been “guys”) and your recognition of THIS regardless of the message showing up in female or male form is most appreciated, you dear soul!

    Much Love to you both from your Maren xxx

    August 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

  2. Charles R.

    Wow – your blog is so much more creative than most sites like this.

    You never know what is going to appear… and I love that.

    Keep up the great work.


    August 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm

  3. lee

    How interesting this all is!

    Is thinking really an adversary of happiness, or is the mind a free, expansive and necessary function consciousness loves?

    It is not my experience at all that “thinking is nearly always bound to create stress” – It would only tend do so if I irresponsibly allowed it to meander around negatively with vague unexamined thoughts and beliefs.

    USED – consciously engaged as understanding, consideration and focus upon things, I find that “the mind” gives me GREAT perspective and comprehension and unquestionably RELIEVES me of stress regarding issues of any kind.

    The “voice in our head” which assumes negative forms is simply the form our own mental voice takes when we don’t assume responsibility for it and direct it consciously and creatively.
    After all, no one ELSE is in our head, talking – only free, limitless consciousness oneself) is present.

    Is it true that “we all have a tyrannical voice in our head, etc..” I, and countless other people DON’T – my mind is almost exclusively a pleasure – and I mean that.

    I find, then, no need to “ignore the voice in [my] head” – because, for one thing, it’s just me (free consciousness) thinking. It’s also perfectly unopposed to (and supports) love, understanding, creativity, etc, AND – it’s as valid a present moment activity as anything else.

    Consciousness has the mind absolutely unproblematically as part of itself – it is a functional, magnificent and infinite resource.

    Many people have had a rough time mentally because they have not understood the usage, capacity and freedom inherent in consciousness’s mind.

    This has given rise to spiritual philosophies wherein, effectively, the mind is trashed, per se, as suppressive of happiness. These philosophies, however, are unconsciously founded in precisely the kind of negative,(in this case mind negative) separative thinking they are attempting to avoid!

    August 29, 2010 at 7:43 am

    • NDA

      Lee –

      You have made a legitimate point!

      I’m glad you have such mental mastery…
      and it’s wonderful that your mind is positive, so perhaps this post doesn’t really apply to you.

      I feel there is a place for everyone on NDA and so we plan on keeping this type of discussion open as this is what challenges the mind –getting it out of its own perspective.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm

  4. As the author of the article you, Lee, are commenting on, I’m happy to respond to your comments, which I appreciate and are thoughtfully expressed and valid. I don’t actually disagree with what you said. And I’m really happy you are as free as you are from domination of your egoic, or negative, mind. So, this article wasn’t written for you but for those who can relate to mental negativity and tyranny.

    Also I make a distinction in my books, which isn’t explained in this article, between the functional, practical mind and the egoic mind, which is the mind when it is being run by the ego and conditioning. The mind itself is neutral, but it is usually used by the ego and reflects conditioning. However, the mind can also be used to “unravel” the egoic mind, in which case it is extremely useful and a positive force for happiness and awakening.

    For example, with spiritual inquiry, you’re using the mind to see through the untruths within your conditioning. Psychoanalysis is often another example of this. When people are not conscious of their mind, though, as you pointed out, the ego, through the mind, uses them. I’ve found that distinguishing between the egoic mind and the mind in general helps people understand the mind and how it can become a tool they use rather than be used by the egoic mind.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify this. Love and Blessings…

    August 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    • lee

      I agree with you. Consciousness in which an experience of limitation or inner conflict is present – in other words, having “bought into” negative or separative illusions of some kind, can reveal its own freedom to itself by standing the interior furniture up to inspection.

      In my experience, I find that the inquiry of consciousness may often formulate itself as specific, highly targeted, “vital” QUESTIONS regarding certain issues, and I seem to inevitably experience precise “answers” to those questions.

      This is amazing because, whatever the subject, the “need to know” basis – the call for insight or understanding – is answered by an authentic “flash” – the kind of flash that realigns you to freedom and perspective permanently in that “subject area.”

      I think that the infinite adventure of conscious existence, knowing itself as such, wants to explore ever fresh paths, possibilities, creativity in innumerable forms, and delving into all this, must be able to ask, and know; consider, understand, choose, and imagine – always freely.

      I think the most critically important thing to realize about the mind is that, if we objectify it as “the mind” – an intangible, “separate,” mysterious and sometimes negative “entity” almost – we don’t see that it is merely the purity of our own voice – the voice and “considerations” of our very own self – the illimitable consciousness playing as an individual.

      Seeing that, “the mind” is perceived as emanating from consciousness (oneself) and its negative mystery is destroyed forever.

      August 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm

  5. Good point, Lee.

    It is us driving the train that is the stream of thought.

    There is no problem if we stop charging along and instead sit back and enjoy the view!

    September 27, 2010 at 8:11 am

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