Life is a struggle, Stress is its consequence, and Progress is its outcome. But, whenever, our body/mind system is worked beyond its natural Biological Limits, it generates ABNORMAL STRESS which we denote in this chapter as “stress” by eliminating the word abnormal from it. This stress has many dimensions. It can be due to the sudden emotional shock, like the death of a very dear relative which time alone can heal or crying soon after the Sad Event may somewhat lessen the shock stress.
The stress can also be caused by over-using our body/ mind system again and again without giving enough rest in between for the body/mind system to recuperate itself. Have you not seen the rubber band being stretched? If you stretch it slightly, it will return to its original shape, and if we stretch it again and again or stretch it beyond its elastic limits, the rubber will get permanently deshaped and not return to its original shape and if we stretch the rubber too far, the rubber band can break. The same thing happens with human beings also, though we are not exactly like rubber or the rubber stamps, because human beings have been endowed by God with will-power to repair themselves infinitely by connecting themselves with the greatest healer – The Almighty; unless one has stretched oneself to the Impossible Beyond, from where no one returns.
And these biological limits for stress are not only widely different for different persons and races, but these limits change with age. A simple example of stress will illustrate it. If after running for a while, we start panting for breath, and are not able to speak properly, we have caused stress to our body because we have run beyond the aerobic capacity of our lungs/heart system which gives a feeling of tiredness to our muscles; because we have accumulated lactic acid in our muscles due to the paucity of oxygen.
For this, we need rest. And this capacity to run long distances is different for the different persons and can, however, be developed/increased with daily practice as in the case of fast or long Distance Runners, but this capacity to run diminishes with age. In fact, running can become hazardous for older persons unless they are used to running daily.
Anger is another common example of stress. Talking is natural to man, but talking continuously for many hours can cause hoarseness and stress, but so called ANGER is an extreme form of stress, when we shout at the top of our voice all sorts of hotch potch; this throws our natural breathig out of phase/gear, thus our heart starts beating faster in order to help reach the oxygen/glucose/nutrients to the brain, because the requirement of brain is almost nine times larger than any other part of our body, the adrenal glands release the chemical-adrenalin in the blood stream to help the liver to release more glycogen in the blood to tide over this emergency.
In youth, we have full blooded veins and it is somewhat possible to withstand certain amount of anger, but in old age, Anger can stress the heart and even prove fatal.
But there is another form of anger – suppresse danger in which we are constrained by our civil behaviour not to shout, but we suppress our anger which we may feel over the wrong decisions of our office bosses. And even at home; we suppress our anger at the behaviour of our wife and children. Such suppressed anger also releases and triggers the same emergency hormonal secretions though not on the same scale as the expressed anger. While, our expressed anger happens once in a blue moon unless one is Angry Type, but suppressed anger is like repeated stress and thus, it slowly deranges our body/mind system.
Similarly, our capacity to withstand extreme heat/cold diminishes with age, inspite of the fact that our body provides itself the best stable temperature system by keeping our body temperature around 98.6DF, inspite of large fluctuations in atmospheric temperature during the year, during our normal health. And our hair turn grey when we grow old in order to reflect the extra sunshine away from our head, otherwise the oxidants created by the sun-shine will damage the brain neurons.
This happens, because in old age, the Semi Clogged Blood arteries are not able to give full blooded nutrition to the brain as in youth to metabolise the sun rays effectively but some of the over-zealous persons will dye their grey hair to black again in order to look younger but such persons carry extra risk to themselves when the atmospheric temperature shoots upto 105D F and beyond, in tropical climate; thus they need to take greater precautions from bright sun-shine.
And further I must assert that our modern technology has been very unkind to our delicate eyes, exposing the eyes to bright flash lights or long bright exposures during television photo sessions or having to read voluminous newspapers/ journals/office work/working on computer screens/ watching home television for long hours and that too with semi-bent forward neck position which impedes the supply of blood to the brain, thus further enhancing the strain on our eyes. Such excessiveness is”beautifully described by Lao Tse thus :-
“Continuing to fill a pail, after it is full, the water will be wasted, continuing to grind an axe, after it is sharp will wear it away. Excess of light blinds the eyes, excess of sound deafens the ears, excess of condiments deadens the taste. He who possesses moderation is lasting and enduring. Too much is always a curse; most of all in Wealth.”
There is another great cause of emotional stress, particularly in our old age, when our near kith and kins – our own sons and daughters far-sake us and admit us in Help Age homes and rarely visit us – that feeling that I am no longer needed becomes a source of great stress. And I quote Shakespeare in “As You Like It” when the King in Exile in the forest laments thus :-
“Blow, Blow Thou Winter Winds Thy Sting is not so sharp As that of Ingratitude;”
Similarly, Raj Kapoor – a great Actor and Film Maker of India sings in one of his pictures
“Dost, Dost Na Raha Pyar Pyar Na Raha Ai Zindgi Tumahara Aitbar Naa Raha”
Another very great cause of stress is some kind of lurking ‘FEAR’ over-shadowing us, which hangs like a Sword of Democles on our head and is a continous stress. Such type of stress is also faced by Soldiers on the War Front under Cannon Fire -Cannons to the left of me, Cannons to the right of me and Cannons everywhere.
Such type of Continuous stress slowly eats like white ants the immune structure of our body and if not attended to in time, the body will one day collapse like a dead wood. But much before that, stress shows itself in various related symptoms like tiredness, restlessness, sleeplessness, Nausea, Diarrhoea, high Blood Pressure leadinng to Angina and aggravations of all sorts of body pains and headaches etc. with bouts of depression which makes us age faster with early appearance of wrinkles on the face which further aggravates the state of depression.
The Anatomy of Stress Response in Our Body
Thus, when a stress causing event occurs, the sense endings in the hypothalamus region of the brain actuate an alarm signal which stimulates the autonomic nervous system and endocrinal activity directed by the Pituitary gland – the Director of our body’s Endocrine Orchestra, which thus directs the adrenal gland to secrete Andrenalin and nor-Andrenalin hormones in the blood stream to cope up with stress, resulting in increase in the strength and rate of heart beat, constriction of blood vessels and consequent rise in blood pressure, eye pupils dilate, blood glucose level inceases, blood circulation is shifted to the brain and the heart; while depleting its flow to the digestive system.
Glycogen is released from the liver to meet the brain’s increased demand, the spleen contracts, releasing blood cells, all this is done by the Hypothalamus region in the brain to save itself from the ravages of stress and when the stressful event is over, it is followed by exhaustion due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles due to inadequate Oxygen supply and if we can give enough rest to our body/mind system, our body returns more or less to its normal position, but not without causing its shadow on our brain/body.
But, if the stressful conditions continue to bog the mind again & again, the sympathetic nervous system as outlined above itself gets over burdened with neural & endocrine activity beyond its natural limits, resulting ultimately in the appearance of neurological disorders with time.
Man is a dynamic potentiality and has thus the innate capacity to charge one’s life battery through the seven Energy Chakras of the Astral body which surrounds our gross body with which it is connected with vital life energy, as known by our sages after intensive meditation. There is potential divine Kundalini energy which is normally lying dormant, but can be made kinetic and kindled by the seed words V, S, & L of Swadhishtana and Mooladhara Chakras respectively.
The kindled divine kundalini Energy can move to the crown Chakra to illumine our Total BEING, to dissolve our stress totally. The stimulation of Astral Chakras with the following words can strengthen our body alongwith rejuvenating the total endocrine activity of our body/mind system.
(i) The word ‘L’ gives strength to our legs to walk & walking is one of the best yogic aerobic exercise for our body (see chapter on Walking). The word ‘L’ by its resonont sonic vibrations boosts our sex power and kindles the divine kundalini.
(ii) The word V is the seed word of Swadhishtana/ Ovary Chakra. It helps to irrigate all the cells of our body with water/blood/nutrients thus strengthening the cellular life processes.
(iii) The Word ‘R’ the seed word for Navel/Manipur Chakra stimulates by its resonant sonic energy the Adrenal gland – the emergency saviour gland to keep it in full preparedness to meet the challenge of stress. The word ‘R’ also strengthens the liver, the Pancreas & the other abdominal secretions to help restore the disturbed digestion on account of stress.
(iv) The word ‘Y’ helps the heart for better circulation to meet the challenge of stress.
(v) The word ‘H’ – the seed word for Vishudha/ Throat Chakra strengthens the Thyroid/ Parathyroid glands, for better fat/Carbohydrates metabolism & to re-establish the connection between the body and the brain.
(vi) The word ‘N’ – the seed word for Brow chakra, helps to strengthen the left brain – the sympathetic nervous system to keep its vigilance and altertness to cope with stress. This also stimulates the pituitary gland – the master gland. Since pituitary gland is the Director of all glandular activity in our body, it has to be kept in its optimum condition to cope with stress.
(vii) The word ‘M’ is the seed word for crown chakra, it strengthens the right brain and pineal gland. Because crown chakra is a higher chakra than Brow chakra, it comes to the rescue of sympathetic nervous system when it is overworked by repeated stress. This crown chakra is a chakra of illumination of our mind & also helps to develop control over our mind.
The more we stimulate this chakra, the more of brain’s spatial capacity is expanded, because normally a limited brain capacity is utilised and when we yoke our Crown Chakra with the Super – consciousness with the inhale mantras like AUNM & AHANM, we fulfill our total Being with the effulgence of pranic life energy, and this gets amplified thousand fold when the kindled divine Kundilini energy reaches this chakra – Sahasrara chakra of thousand fold potentiality to blossom and illumine our mind. The pineal gland produces the hormone Melatonin to soothe and calm our stressed mind.
2. We are yoked with God – the Super consciousness, through the medium of breath every moment of our life. But, when we fall ill, our breath becomes shallow & erratic. Thus, our first attempt is to restore our natural sequence of breathing. The word SAN or SHAN helps us to start our breath about 7 cms below our Navel Chakra, and the words S & SH also originate from the same place where our breath originates.
And the word SAN yokes us with INFINITY – the superconsciousness to draw in as much pranic life energy as possible to fulfill our BEING. The well known words LONG, SONG, and MONK etc. also yoke us with the Superconsciousness with the word AN to re-charge our life battery and to get rid of the stressful condition of our mind.
3. Another approach of using suggetive healing breathing mantras has been adopted, like “IMPROVING’ which Goads us to think that continuous improvement in my body is happening. It has a hypnotic influence to cure, because thought is the finest & concentrated form of Pranic Energy and as also told by Swami Vivekanand,” Matter is Mighty but Thought is Almighty”. The suggestive healing Mantras are so chosen i.e. IMPROVE or BRILLIANT, HEALING which are in consonance with natural sequence of breathing or the sequence of location of astral chakras.