The main factor in maintaining health today is the ability to live in harmony with ourselves, our environment, with others, and to keep our “big by-products” at a controlled level; defined as STRESS.
Stress is a multidimensional phenomenon, meaning having physical, emotional, mental, environmental and developmental, and yes, even spiritual aspects. In our discussion, we will touch on each of these issues, and discuss how to not be too stressed. We will also discuss how to reduce stress after a “stress response” is triggered. This will become clearer as we continue. This is usually referred to as a “stress reduction technique.” The term, stress, comes from the physical world, and usually refers to pressure, or the force acting on a system. Stress can be defined as desirable and undesirable. Unresolved stress can and does cause disease. Four categories are special interests.
(a) Organic disease –
(B) Conversion reaction –
(c) Psychosomatic diseases –
(D) Passion disorder.
Each will be briefly discussed.
(A) Organic diseases:
Organic diseases are diseases that affect the structure and function of the human body. They are “contagious” or “not contagious.”
Infectious diseases are diseases that are usually contagious, such as viruses, or bacteria, fungi, or parasites. And, today, AIDS!
Non-communicable diseases are degenerative processes, heredity, birth defects, nutritional habits, dangerous environmental factors or metabolic disorders. Physical results, for example, are arthritis, senility, nutritional deficits, and heart disease.
(B) Conversion Reaction: (Freud, father of Psychoanalysis, developed this concept.)
This is a term he often uses to describe physical symptoms that do not have physical causes; That is. will be “hysterical blindness,” or loss of some other bodily functions without physical causes. Conversion means using the body to “express” some emotional turmoil, usually the result of unbearable stress.
(C) Psychosomatic Diseases:
The idea here is that the mind plays an important role in many types of diseases. These two types of disorders are usually discussed: (1) Psychogenic, and (2) Somatogenic.
(1) Psychogenic refers to disorders or diseases caused by emotional stress. Examples are cases where actual physical or structural damage occurs to cells or organs, but no known cause can be found. Gastric ulcers, skin diseases, migraine headaches and some respiratory disorders are examples.
(2) Somatogenic refers to a category of diseases that are less clear in definition. For example, fear, anxiety, frustration, and other emotional turmoil produce physical symptoms. It has been studied in detail that microorganisms are always present in the human body. Under a very stressful period, these microorganisms, which usually do not cause adverse effects, become agents of disease by attacking body structures, and disrupting normal bodily functions. (D) Arousal disorders: Cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems are examples here. Research over the past half century has pointed to our limbic, hypothalamic, and rectular activation centers as the core of emotional stimulation. Let’s look at the scheme below:
PERCEPTION: (Mental function, involves interpreting events that occur in our lives.
The results of our perception:
Feelings, emotions, defenses arise: (emotions arising from our interpretation above)
BEHAVIOR: (Actions resulting from mental and emotional interpretations above).
This scheme represents the mind-emotional interaction of the body from stress and how this affects our daily lives. Lifestyle is also considered as the main element in every discussion about stress. The way we experience “developmental years”, our basic “attitudes” towards life, all have influence.
HUMAN NERVOUS SYSTEM: Human Nervous System: Scientists talk about “three brains”: (1) the first and oldest brains associated with the physical world; (2) midbrain that is related to the inner world; (3) the last and most recent brain that is related to creativity and abstraction. The first or physical brain is the “reptile brain” of concrete imaging. It is centered in the hypothalamus. (External / physical).
The inner brain, mammals (midbrain) that affect emotions and dream imaging and metaphorical imaging. (Limbic system). (Our emotional chair).
“New brain” (neocortex) that instructs intelligence, and abstract images and rational thinking. With this new brain we become able to synthesize, make, calculate, and manipulate information provided by the two lower brains.
Think of these three brains as twisting each other, like onions. Each develops for thousands of years, and through human evolution. With each step in evolution, the human species gains another degree and other ways to connect with the world.
Here’s how they work:
First, an event occurs in our consciousness. We, using perception, mental processes, interpreting these events in the sense of meaning to us; largely determined by prior conditioning and experience. Furthermore, depending on our interpretation, we generate some emotions for the event. Next, we behave towards that event, determined by the emotion that arises; this is an aspect of action. Finally, all of this produces several consequences, both for ourselves directly, and / or for others with whom we share this existence on earth.
Physically, this is what happens: Two researchers, Cannon and Bard, call this physical reaction a “escape or fight” syndrome. Keep in mind that a normal stress response, and I emphasize “normal,” arises when we are confronted with real and real physical threats to our existence. Nature itself gives us this response to give us an increase in energy, and a means to fight danger or escape from it. Therefore, stress per se, is a very important and useful aspect of human existence. But in the modern world, most of these stress reactions result from interpersonal interactions, and are caused more emotionally. They are the result of conditioned reactions and our individual interpretations of events that happen to us every day, all day, every day! And, by definition, it is not a threat that is truly harmful to life and existence as nature that is intended to use stress responses. An event happened to us. We see it, see it, and interpret it mentally. This in turn evokes an emotional response, unless we interpret this event as completely neutral and has nothing to do with us in any way. This leads to several decisions to respond, to behave in a certain way, usually with habits. Remember that habits are “automatic”, and not responses that are thought for an action. This is the opposite of the deep thought response to the event, which is carried out consciously and directedly. The old phrase from this is: “For each action, there is a reaction.” A more modern version is: “Every decision we make produces several consequences, whether desired or unwanted.” Prisons and prisons are filled with automatic reactions to life events. Behavior that is controlled by our emotions, or midbrain, and is not the result of our higher level, creative (meaning selective events), the brain, the last of our evolutionary processes, which equips us to make conscious decisions, usually produces results unwanted.
But, to continue. Once the circular event above occurs, our physical emotions trigger the following series of chemical events:
Sensory nerve stimulation:
Adrenal Medulla, releasing (Stress hormone: Epinephrine, Adrenaline).
Stress Response: (triggered by ACTH because it stimulates the adrenals).
Increased nerve stimulation, increased cardiovascular activity, heart rate, heart volume, cardiac output, blood pressure; increased metabolic activity, increased glucose, protein mobilization, increased antibody production, fat mobilization, increased sodium retention, increased neurological sweat, changes in saliva, changes in tone and GI system motility.
What is really needed here is an individual and personal system to control stress and tension. Remember the scheme above. We start with an event, remember. To avoid stress responses together, we need to change lifestyles and how to react to the environment. As a result, we need to change the way we view events. (This is what Albert Ellis and other therapists are trying to do in their Cognitive Therapy.) And, second, it changes the way we respond emotionally to events. There is no logical reason to interpret each event, or even most of them, as emotionally stressful, if we do not personally consider the results of our interpersonal meetings. There’s an old saying: Offending is just as bad as giving it. Certain levels of interpersonal detachment are needed to achieve this. After all, what other people say about us is more of a revelation than others. This is the person’s personal interpretation of our behavior.
What this means is that we need to get a more separate way related to everyday events, which were previously considered a “threat” to our ego, or conversely considered as a kind of insult to our existence. We need, in essence, to reinterpret our long-conditioned lives and automatic reactions to events in our lives that cause stress responses to be triggered automatically. Avoiding stress responses is the best way to live in this world more stress free! But once physical, chemical, and stress responses are triggered, nothing can stop them from achieving their chemical consequences completely, as explained above. After this happens, we need to be consciously involved in the “stress reduction technique” which will now be discussed in detail. What is needed here is a “holistic” approach to reducing stress.
Level of Difficulty in applying Stress Reduction Techniques:
Difficulty = Easy: Behavioral Technique;
Respiratory Manipulation, Yoga; Changes in Physical Environment; Physical activity. (Lower Brain)
Difficulty = Moderate: Interpersonal: Neuromuscular relaxation (release of tension).
Communication: Visual Imagery. (Middle brain)
Hardest: Change beliefs:
Reorientation of our interpretations; think; feel change.
Meditation. (High mentality)
It must be clear that stress causes many physical ailments. If we really want a healthier life, and now we are very depressed, we need to make changes.
1) We need to be aware of our “stress”
2) Establishing stress-reducing routines
3) Use time-management techniques
4) Minimize smaller changes during periods of major change.
(1) Develop a more separate attitude towards worldly events.
(2) Try not to take things so seriously, or personally. Remember that what someone says about you reveals more about the person speaking than you! What someone says about you is “the idea or the” truth, “so don’t validate other people’s ideas by doing what is expected! We each have the freedom to say and do whatever we choose. Only wise people can truly say and act wisely. Also, it is a stupid, immature, and backward thing that acts and says stupid things. So, consider the source. Be and act wisely, not stupid. “Don’t be sad, happy! ”
(3) Practice physical relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, stretching, walking, or other physical exercise. Yoga can be very helpful. Note: Avoid Hatha Yoga efforts to increase Kundalina energy upward by force) because this causes mental illness).
(1) Review the way we are conditioned by the initial life events, and how our parents “program” us to do and think about how we do it. For example, if an authority figure tells you, “Folgers coffee is the only coffee that can be bought; it’s the best in the world!” Or again, “Never buy ice cream other than chocolate!” Just because it’s proclaimed by an authority figure, does that mean right! In other words, do a little mental cleaning of the house, and understand what has been forced on you, literally. THINK YOURSELF! Authority figures, life or death, love others to obey their opinions or beliefs. They can be wrong, you know!
There is a whole psychological system that is based on the idea of parent conditioning, or Scripting, as it is called, “Transactional Analysis,” and very well helps us to understand how we have “written” to think, act, and feel through a conditioning process: A type “brainwash.” Think about how an actor is given a script and should follow it to the letter, without variation or change. We can think for ourselves!
Spirituality plays a role with us who believe in higher Power. Most of our lives, we are “directed outward” because we have needs, and “satisfaction” needs are considered external to ourselves.
Thoughts and reflections directed at opening up a new world for us. There is an inner world of thought forms, and visual images that we cannot fully capture by outwardly directed thoughts. This is the Spiritual World. We must develop the habit of spending time every day to reflect on ourselves, and seek guidance in our hearts. There is another old saying that rings really right here: “Real Truths Cannot Be Communicated, It Can Only Be Found Alone!” And, self-discovery is an inwardly directed process, which requires daily practice for several minutes to achieve the inner silence that is needed. The best way to do this is to develop daily meditation habits. The previous step to doing this was to learn to concentrate and engage in “visual imagery”. When stressed, think of time or a very pleasant experience, and “go there” in your mind. Revive good times, and pleasant thoughts and memories that we all experience in our lives. Through the first development of our increased ability to concentrate, meditation will become easier over time.
The best way to get spiritual awareness and spiritual growth is through meditation. This will bring relaxed, deep and rhythmic breathing, internal awareness, and maybe, in the end, peace and enlightenment! None of these things can come from an agitated body or a mind filled with chaos, doubt, and self-humiliation. So, the requirements for meditation are as follows: Find a peaceful place (usually the same every day), and sit in a style that is very relaxed physically, whatever is best for you. Concentrate on your breath. Take a breath, count to ten, hold for five, and exhale until the count of ten. Try to breathe no more than 8-10 times per minute, until this becomes your habit. This reduced breath per minute can also prolong your life. Then, keep your emotions by only thinking peaceful thoughts and using visual imagery during pleasant times. Then, still mind, which is the most difficult thing to do, because the mind is a virtual parade from one mind to another. Freud called the workings of mental processes as free associations. One thought leads to another, and then another and then another. Have you ever tried to pay attention to your thoughts? It is true! And, how to stop the parade of thoughts; most of which are useless and have no real purpose. One way is to draw a T.V screen, with action on the screen. Then, mentally, turn off the set and stare at the blank screen. If your mind comes, don’t fight it, just say to yourself, “leave, I don’t want you here.” And, just leave them alone. Learning to let go is a real asset to being a person who is flexible and adaptable.
A word about Adaptation:
What does this mean? We have all known people who react to every bad situation with a very negative response, and other people who seem relaxed even in the face of real pressure. What makes a difference? Remember that the conditioning, and the TA “script” that I mentioned earlier are the controlling factors here. If someone in his development years is very frustrated, because the need is not truly valid, he develops a negative view of life; rigid attitude towards Life. For that person, this is a frustrating world, never fulfilling what the person wants.
Conversely, if someone usually fulfills most of his needs, he views the world very differently. He usually expects to get what he wants but knowing this is not always the case. So, the person develops a level of frustration tolerance. He realized the world was more realistic than our first person. Individuals who are mostly fulfilled realize that things cannot always go as expected, so learn to adjust and consider other choices when things don’t go their way. There is one main truth about Life: Change is the Essence! So, a realistic-oriented individual knows that everything, no matter how stable or enduring they are, will ultimately give way to new and fresh ones. This is actually the definition of the evolutionary process. Without change, there will be no growth, whether in individuals or in society or in the universe. Adults who will not reject the changes needed, but will do it together, relax and help in its evolution. This is the meaning of being adaptable.
“Follow the Flow,” they said at Berkeley.
“Releasing” in meditation means releasing “outward things,” as a substitute for “inner manifestations,” to focus on the inner processes, thoughts, feelings, and ways we breathe. Breath is Life. By the way, we need to develop a “way for babies to breathe.” That is, when we inhale, the stomach expands, outwardly not upward, and when we exhale, it shrinks, or deflates. It’s like a balloon filled and then released. It must be slow and rhythmic. This is the way we should approach all life too. Slow, rhythmic, and in harmony with “breathing universe.”
In closing, it must be noted that the biggest obstacle to successful meditation is attitude. At first, and for some time, there didn’t seem to be any results. So, we are discouraged and give up, especially in our “instant gratification” world. However, with continuous use, and a positive attitude, eventually people will begin to realize the true and true virtues of the meditation process. The world will suddenly become much less stressful. There seems to be more time, and more energy to do the things we really enjoy; have fun with Life. Then we will really know what it means to be an individual who can adapt, be wise and stress free.