Meditation and Understanding Stress
To understand how you can reduce stress and therefore prevent disease, first we should define it.
Stress is not a deadline to meet at work, a term paper, or even a traffic tie-up during rush hour. Stress is how we react, physically and mentally, to these experiences.
Some days we're better at it; some days we're not. If we've slept well at night and wake up fresh and rested, we're apt to handle any demand during the day far better then if we run into it, headlong, on a Friday afternoon at the end of a long week.
Stress, then, can be understood to be any structural or material abnormality in the body (tight neck muscles, high blood pressure, tension headaches, etc) that is caused by overloading the machinery of experience, the senses.
Any overload can cause it. The sudden flash of a camera bulb can create stress in the eyes. Too much exertion or excitement can cause stress - or not enough rest. Any experience, positive or negative, can create stress if the system is unable to handle it.
Is Stress the Spice of Life?
Some say that stress is the spice of life. People who thrive on the continual stimulation of new challenges, new responsibilities, new pressures would hate to live without stress.
It's true that the opportunities and new challenges are essential for a fulfilling life. Eliminating stress from your life does not mean eliminating these challenges. Rather, it means eliminating their negative side-effects - chronic fatigue, anxiety, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, etc - which severely restrict your capacity to be healthy, successful and enjoy what you do.
Transcendental Stress Management is real Stress Management
How, then, can you live your life fully and not be victimized by stress? There are many "Stress management techniques" available today that try to minimize stress by training people how to better organize their time, their responsibilities, and their work and home environments.
These techniques often give advice on how to avoid high-pressure situations, recommend mental imagery exercises, and advocate changes in lifestyle to reduce stress. Some suggest de-escalating career goals.
Are these the basics of stress management? Simply, No. They may be helpful in their own right, but they are not the "bottom line" on stress management.
So what is the bottom line? Rest. The very deep rest gained during 20 minutes of the TSM Vedic Meditation allows the body to rejuvenate itself and throw off the accumulated stress and fatigue that has built up over years. It helps to normalize high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol levels, improve bronchial asthma, provide relief from insomnia - even improve reaction time and athletic performance.
Without this rest, you can only hope to "manage" stress and struggle to organise your schedule to cope with growing stress in life, not eliminate it.
So, how would you feel if in a few minutes every day you could relax so deeply that you dissolve away the stress and fatigue of life?
The Physiological Effects of Stress
Seventy-five to ninety percent of all doctors visits are due to stress-related ailments and stress-related disorders. Chronic acute stress leads to an out of balance biochemistry with elevated cortisol and suppressed serotonin. These biochemical markers of stress in turn lead to ill health and psychosocial disorders. Consequently, stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health.
Stress can effect the onset of, or susceptibility to disease. It can affect the progression or course of disease, even when there is another cause of the disease; and stress can effect one's recovery from disease.
Stress has been linked to:
- Breakdown in the immune system
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Cardiovascular disease
The Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain
Chronic stress creates excessive levels of cortisol in the brain, impairing the function of the hippocampus, leading to neuronal atrophy and destruction of neurons, decreased short term and contextual memory, and poor regulation of the endocrine response to stress.
The Effects of Chronic Stress on the Immune System
Chronic stress affects the immune system by increasing sympathetic activity and decreasing cellular immunity. Immune cells migrate to different parts of the body and can worsen autoimmune and allergic conditions. Over time, this creates a suppression of the natural positive acute mobilization cells to the point of challenge.
The Effects of Chronic Stress on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Systems
The effects of chronic stress can create significant damage to the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of coronary artery disease, elevating blood pressure, increasing infarction, increasing the risk of diabetes, and increasing the likelihood of obesity.
Stress Has Been Shown to Affect The Brain And The Ability to Think Clearly and Make Good Decisions
When stress hits, whether at a high or low level, your body goes into what’s called "fight or flight". In fight or flight, large parts of your brain actually shut down when you need it most. Critical sections of your brain literally go on strike! So if you're dealing with stress every day, your brain is not functioning at the level that it could be. Just think about the toll that this can be taking on your professional success (and your ability to make money), how you interact with others (especially your romantic relationships), and how you feel about yourself.
Stress That Gets Stuck In The Body Leads to Long-Term Health Challenges
Stress decreases nutrient absorption, increases salt retention making you bloated, affects your cholesterol, and impacts your immune system, endocrine system and nervous system!
To make matters worse, when you go from the "fight or flight" mode of stress into a "freeze" state, your body is effectively storing the stress of that moment. Dr. Robert Scaer, a neurologist who has researched traumatic stress, has found that the “freeze” response encapsulates stress in our bodies, preventing us from moving on after a stressful event until we’ve found a way to release the stress that’s literally lodged in our bodies, in our muscles, even our cells.
Stress releases the chemicals of adrenaline and cortisol which both lead to weight gain. These two chemicals have been shown to slow down digestion and constrict blood vessels along with a few other key biological changes that control how your body and brain function and how strong your food cravings come on.
Most doctors agree that emotional well-being is essential for good physical health. In fact, in terms of dieting for weight loss, not addressing emotional issues -- whether small or serious traumas from the past -- is the primary reason that most people who lose weight often fail at keeping the weight off.
Essentially, when we're dealing with stress it affects EVERY area of our lives... So If Stress Is Such a Major Issue That Impacts So Many Areas Of Our Lives, Why Don't More People Do Something to Deal With It?
After years of working with clients we've found some similar patterns in regards to why so many people are living with such high amounts of stress, with little or no action taken to deal with it.
1 - Many people aren't even aware of the level of stress they're carrying every day. They feel it is "normal" for them to feel the way they do and are unaware of how things can feel different.
2 - Others who are aware of the stress they are carrying don't think they can do anything about it. They feel that their finances, health, relationship, emotions and other areas of their lives are out of their control and thus they falsely believe that the stress that they are dealing with is also out of their control.
3 - Many that are aware of their level of stress and who want to do something about it either don't know what to do, or feel that they don't have the time to do anything to deal with it, or don't feel that it's important enough in the scheme of what they have going on in their lives.
Unfortunately what most people don't realize is the effect that stress, along with anxiety and overwhelm that comes with it, has on all areas of their lives.
Addressing the stress you're dealing with will create enormous improvements in all areas of your life and most importantly, will make life significantly easier and more enjoyable.
Here are some important benefits that come from the regular practice of TSM Meditation:
- Helps eliminate physical pain from your body.
- By reducing stress we can create lasting weight loss.
- One finds increased comfort and can Let go of fear, guilt, shame and other negative emotions that hold you back.
- TSM Improves your ability to think clearly, allowing you to make better decisions in all areas of your life.
- TSM reduces and often eliminates phobias and limiting beliefs.
- Stress release also means release of any hurt and trauma from painful events in your past.
- One naturally experiences increased energy and happiness enabling a positive attraction in the field of our relationships.
- -Finally sleeping well at night.