The Buddha explained to us that the stress that we experience is not really happening because we have too much or too difficult work to do. It’s happening because we don’t understand what’s important. Attempting stress reduction without meditation is like trying to grow a house plant without water. No matter what we do, that plant is not going to grow unless we give it what it needs. In other words, we need to know the key ingredient before we can make any progress.
It turns out that the key ingredient to stress reduction is the capacity to be continually aware of what we are doing. The path to overcoming stress is to let mindfuless guide us toward the solutions to our problems. Once we become aware, we can clearly see what is the dominant condition that is causing our suffering and then we can take action to neutralize it. This process of developing continual awareness is what we call insight meditation because it leads directly to insight knowledge.