Eric Walrabenstein talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Waging Inner Peace: How 5,000 Veterans Used the Ancient Secrets of Yoga and Mindfulness to Reclaim Their Lives from Stress (and How You Can, Too).
“Stress isn’t really about stress, it’s about managing your humanness.” ~Eric Walrabenstein
Waging Inner Peace is based on the BOOTSTRAP program that Eric created specifically to enable military veterans to cope with the stresses that stemmed from the pressures they experienced while in active service, with Eric noting that the effects of stress on veterans and troops is “catastrophic” and that around 20% of all veterans who had been on active combat deployment suffered from stress-related disorders, according to the US Veteran’s Administration, and Eric calls it “an epidemic.” BOOTSTRAP, which is based on the idea of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps,” is a ten-week program that enables those who take it up to better understand the underpinnings of stress, and as more and more people took the program, Eric realized that the principles and techniques could also be applied by non-veterans to their own lives.
The book itself sprang from when the mother of a veteran approached him with her concerns about her son, who was a Marine who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and was concerned about the situation. This was the impetus for Eric to start thinking about how to reach people who had no physical access to him, and from there, Eric realized that writing the book could impact more people than those he could reach with just his practice, particularly since he found these practices to be particularly transformative in his own life.
Eric notes that there has been a shift in the way society helps veterans deal with stress compared to before, giving the example of a relative who was a B-17 bombardier in World War II who dealt with stress by downing a few drinks and moving on. He notes that being in combat overwhelms the “human” system, and he also notes that stress has an internal component where people are concerned in that people’s responses to a stressful situation differ depending on how they respond to it, with one such example being how the same person can take the stress of traffic in stride one day and become angry, while being in the same situation, on another. He remarks that different people respond to stress in different ways, which is also the reason why some people aren’t affected by what others would deem to be large amounts of stress, while others just need a slight amount of stress to put them into a tailspin.
Eric remarks that stress isn’t an entirely bad thing, noting that “good stress” enables people to grow, such as the stresses people experience when they learn new things, or when they work out in a gym or getting a cold, which only improves a person, but that too much stress overwhelms one’s system, which is what causes problems. PTSD is on the extreme end of the stress spectrum, where people are stuck in a “fight or flight” state which causes the symptoms associated with it, including adverse physiological effects such as high blood pressure.
One of Eric’s techniques is called “Mindfulness,” which is based on two parts. The first is focused attention, where one brings one’s attention to what is going on in the present, while the second is to focus one’s attention without judgment, or with acceptance, and gave the example of being mindful while being stuck in traffic.
To people who are stressed out, Eric would tell them that they need to recognize that the greatest source of stress comes from within, due to the way we have learned to respond to our circumstances. He notes that a lot of us blame stress on the outside world, but that our own reactions to the circumstances play a part, and that we should be curious about what goes on within us that exacerbates the stress response.
Eric Walrabenstein’s website is bootstrapusa.com.
Purchase from Amazon: Waging Inner Peace: How 5,000 Veterans Used the Ancient Secrets of Yoga and Mindfulness to Reclaim Their Lives from Stress (and How You Can, Too) by Eric Walrabenstein