The official definition of “stress” is to be subject to pressure or tension, and can be in applied in any literal context. However, in the industrialised world today, the word stress, or to “be stressed” is used commonly in a human context, and relates to being mentally and/or emotionally under extreme pressure or tension. Stress can be a positive motivator, but the implication in this article, refers to being stressed as a liability to human health and wellbeing.
We have much to understand about human stress, but what we are finding, is that chronic mental and emotional stress or psychological stress, is a common factor in the onset of many physical disorders and diseases – particularly the types of diseases most prevalent in society today, such as mental illnesses, cancers and heart diseases. Suffice to say, being able to identify and treat this type of stress in its early stages is important. There are three significant factors that point to physical disease being a condition of psychological stress.
- Firstly, the condition of being “over-stressed” compromises the human immune system, thus weakening the body’s natural ability to maintain normal health and wellness.
- Secondly, under continuing stressful conditions, a person will tend to crave and over-eat sweet foods, as well as over-indulge in alcohol, drugs and cigarettes in an effort to relieve their stressful symptoms.
- Thirdly, every emotion we experience has an associated chemical signature. Each signature is unique to the emotion and accounts for the physiological feeling-changes we experience as human beings. Chronic stress and ongoing negative emotions can create overly acidic cellular environments, giving rise to increasing toxicity within the body. This, combined with a compromised immune system, over-eating, and the over-indulgence of vices, are the factors that predetermine the onset of physical disease – just as we are seeing in the world today.
Typically, pharmaceutical treatments tend to be limited to treating the symptoms of stress, rather than addressing the cause itself. While the option of psychological stress counselling can provide valuable support, it is the “sufferer of stress” who is in the best position to deal with the cause of their problem. In developing an understanding of their condition and the self-awareness to make lifestyle and outlook adjustments, complete remission from chronic stress and any subsequent disease can be achieved.
Our material-driven lifestyle under question:
Even though the stresses we feel are initially the result of our subjective life perceptions, there are dehumanising aspects of our modern society that provoke stressful responses in people. Unfortunately, those who have, or control the resources that could improve this situation, tend to be less affected by ongoing stress. The fiscal priority of materialism as it stands, lacks vision when it comes to recognising the benefits of a less stressful way of life. But when one considers the human cost that stress imposes on our society, it is hard to understand why the idea of serious investment is withheld. A happier, healthier society would create a much more vibrant and abundant marketplace.
It is interesting to note that those who have had the courage to step away from the treadmill-demands of this somewhat obsessive lifestyle, have been able to overcome their stressful dilemmas and avoid major health problems. There have also been many who have “luckily” survived major health problems and who have HAD to modify their lifestyles and attitudes as a result.
There is no doubt that the developed world needs to take human stress more seriously and be willing to make the necessary changes to overcome the mental and emotional health problems it creates.
There is also no doubt that “we as participants”, who’s health and wellbeing is compromised by the demands and expectations of the modern world, have a responsibility to avoid major health issues by addressing head-on, the cause of mental and emotional stress within ourselves . . .
A question of balance:
There are many things we as individuals can do to support a healthy societal change. One is to recognise the importance of maintaining BALANCE in life.
The Work Life balance:
Recognises the balance between work and play, between the hours of work and the hours spent in leisure. Parents, who have to work longer hours to maintain a lucrative lifestyle, often end up neglecting their children – a situation that only compounds the stresses they constantly endure.
The balance between Ignorance and Awareness:
Can we afford to keep ignoring this problem? Stress is a constant liability to the success of business and industry. Yet there is still a denial that takes precedence when it comes to investing in the health and wellbeing of management and staff.
The balance between Medical Science and Holistic Medicine:
“Holistic medicine” involves the client taking personal responsibly for their health & wellbeing. Medical science advocates that the client should follow advice without question, and be willing to hand over the maintenance of their health to working professionals. Medical science has its place – but the suppression of natural medicine is a crime – The people would be better off and healthier if both existed together. Forget the qualifications . . . some people just have an intuitive and natural gift to heal.
The balance between Stress and Relaxation:
As documented, too much stress and too little relaxation is a recipe for health problems. Stress may be unavoidable at times but there is very little credibility given to the effectiveness of natural stress-relieving practices, such as Meditation.
Stress can be difficult to detect. A person may seem quite happy most of the time and yet there could be a lot going on below the surface. In many cases, early-life experiences can be at the source of a person’s stress. But with adulthood comes a coping mechanism that suppresses the stress by obscuring it from public view – usually via a specific personality trait. In this instance, the source of stress can even become hidden from the person who suffers from it.
Stresses can also build-up incrementally making it difficult to detect until it becomes chronic and quite serious to a person’s health and wellbeing.
There are many reasons that life has become a stressful experience for many people. What is generally obvious is that the growing instance of mental and emotional stress seems to run in parallel with a less than happy and peaceful world. We may not be able to change the world in a day, but we can change ourselves. We CAN bring ourselves to a state of balance and we CAN in a relatively short time, experience a dramatic increase in the quality of our health and wellbeing. Yes, major health problems and diseases can be avoided if we are willing to take timeout from stressful situations to create PEACE in our lives.
Specifically, I am talking about INNER peace. To have inner-peace creates inner-happiness and this is empowering. It means that we are not reliant on external stimuli to make us feel at peace, or to make us feel happy.
The happiness we feel, and the peace we feel, comes from within. As the quality of this “more-positive” disposition increases, so our immune system benefits and grows stronger. With lowering stress levels, we are more inclined to give up unhealthy habits and vices and the chemical composition of our now more-frequent positive emotions, ceases to be a volatile cocktail to our physiological bodily systems.
So how is this achieved? It is achieved through the most natural activity . . .
The regular practice of meditation is by far the most effective and natural way of dealing with mental and emotional stress.
Meditation also increases our self worth and brings to life, a sense of inner peace and happiness.
Meditation has been known to western society for many years and is practiced in its traditional forms by millions of people. However, it is still not strongly endorsed through mainstream medical care, partly due to questions around the compatibility of the traditional practice versus the way of life in the developed world.
Despite the varying viewpoints on the practice of meditation, in truth, it is essentially no more than a passive relaxation exercise. The fundamental of practicing meditation is to achieve and maintain a state of “physical stillness” over an extended period of time. Recommended, is twenty minutes per sitting, and one sitting per day. It’s not a hard thing to do, but it is an uncommon thing to do. For a start, the very act of becoming “still” is contrary to the dynamic movement and speed of western civilisation. For this reason, the stillness effect of meditation can by contrast, be a profound experience and extremely beneficial for us at many levels, some of which I have already covered.
Each time we meditate, our stress levels are reduced, and a balance begins to establish between being stressed and being relaxed. With regular daily practice, being at peace and feeling happier becomes more noticeable and continuous. Meditation ‘tunes us in’ more acutely to our mind and body, thus further strengthening our vital systems and our natural ability for self-healing.
The biggest hurdle in meditation for western folk, is to be able to sit quietly and still for the duration of the meditation – day after day. Our busy minds can become a distraction to maintaining stillness, and frustration can often get in the way of continuing practice.
With this in mind, many years ago I expanded my music composition skills to include writing a music that would assist people to sit quietly and still for extended periods. This has proven to be extremely successful for me and has helped many people who have previously given up on meditation. It has also been invaluable to first-time meditators who have been able to maintain a regular practice from the outset.
I have titled the approach to meditation “Simply Stillness”. To meditate is to be in a peaceful state. To meditate in stillness is a natural practice – even animals can be seen meditating naturally. But to the high stress levels of life in the western world, meditation is a miracle cure for mental and emotional stress.
A world that meditates is a world at peace . . .
PS If you are in Melbourne on October 14, 2016 – come along to my show and immerse your body and soul in peace… Tickets very limited! Get them here!