Managing Chronic Stress with Meditation
What is Chronic Stress, how does it affect our health?
We have basic instincts to
survive, sustain and procreate. On the basis of these instincts we
have survived and evolved for thousands of years. The survival instinct
has helped us over the ages to save ourselves from dangers,
it still helps us on occasions, where our survival depends upon fast
response. This 'survival' instinct causes the response, commonly known as 'Fight or Flight'. Since we don't
face the same dangerous living situations as our ancestors did, now
this 'Fight or Flight' response gets triggered if someone is facing critical project deadline, financial threat or getting into an argument. Often
in these situations neither fight or flight is a solution and this
response doesn't end but remains chronically active and causes
harms to biological systems in long run.
The triggering of this response is mainly caused by misidentification of the
threat. It is analogous to the allergic response, in which the immune system misidentifies the simple proteins and substances as
potentially harmful and gets activated to fight against them. The allergic reaction does produce immediate symptoms that are easy to identify, but the
chronic stress response is more insidious, it is very difficult to identify this and a lot of damage is done once the symptoms appear.
Acute Manifestations of
this 'Fight or Flight' response can be seen in 'Panic Attack' and a Chronic Manifestation of
this response can be seen as insomnia, anxiety disorder,
depression, hypertension, cardiac and psychological disorders.
On the contrary the instinct to sustain initiates
the processes that replenishes the body
and helps rejuvenate. This
instinct causes the restful response and fulfills the
energy needs of the body.
The two main sources of energy are
'food' that provides nutrition and the 'rest' which helps rejuvenate the body. This restful response consists of both 'Deep Sleep'
and the state of 'Restful Awareness'. In this state of 'Restful Awareness' we are awake and aware of the
body but the mind is quite. This
state of 'Restful Awareness' is known as
Meditative state and the process to achieve this state is known as
The 'Restful Awareness' marks the end
of the 'Fight of Flight' response. As
an example if an animal is chasing you and you are running for your
life, in this state your 'Fight and Flight' response is serving you
well, as the chase ends and you are at a safe place, the first thing
you will do is a 'sigh of relief', this marks the end of the 'Fight or
Flight' and immediately a process of relaxation starts.
In Modern Times
most of the causes that initiate 'Fight and Flight' response like 'critical
project deadline' remains active for much longer time thus this
response remains Chronically Active and causes harm to body. Doing regular Meditation raises level of
Awareness which in turn makes you aware of when this Chronic response of 'Fight or Flight' has gone active.
Doing Meditation regularly puts an end to this, thus helping you get
into the state of 'Deep Rest'.
I have collected following articles that describe the Stress and it's affect on health.
Each of these links will open in a new window, so please make sure that your pop-up blocker is not blocking them, this is as per guidelines from these sites.
MayoClinic.com Stress information