Stress is not your enemy. Stress is like dark chocolate. A little of it won’t kill you. In fact, small blocks here and there can be good for you, or at least give you a reason to get of bed in the morning.
But chronic and severe stress can damage your body and mind, blocking the fluid communication to and from most organs — especially in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and in the limbic system, the brain’s emotional centre. Believe me, you want these two systems–much like the House and Senate — running as smoothly as possible, with low levels of the delinquent stress hormones in your bloodstream.
Stress per se is not the problem; it is not the vilified devil to avoid at all costs. Stress is a wonderful mechanism evolved to protect us and empower us to face challenging circumstances. There would be no life and no growth without adaptation to an ever changing environment. Life is a perpetual search for equilibrium amidst the constant homeostasis’ disruption in response to the environment.
Modern stress is psychological stress. The problem we face today is the impossibility to act upon the stress-response. The vast majority of modern stress is psychological stress. However, the body does not know the difference between a real threat (a tiger attack) and a fake threat (worry about a job interview). The hormonal cascade initiated by stress is exactly the same. But there is a fundamental difference: whilst in the first instance the body prepares for action and acts on it; in the second situation all that chemicals released in the body have no chance of expression. These chemicals turn into toxins and are stored within the muscles and tissues with deleterious health consequences. In our modern world we are not allowed to express emotions and without an outlet, the neuro-chemical-endocrine mechanism turns into a deadly poison for our system.
What we need today is not trying to suppress the stress response. Rather we need to purify the body from accumulated toxins caused by unexpressed emotions and physiological stress responses. This is crucial to re-establish a good baseline for a healthy stress response. A new strategy is needed to address stress. If the sympathetic nervous system is over-reactive and the parasympathetic is not functioning properly, it makes logical sense to try and stimulate the parasympathetic. But experience shows that when you are stressed, just by “trying” to relax, it does not work. Active meditation approach is to create physical and emotional tension, exploit the law of the sympathetic activation to the maximum, so that the parasympathetic kicks in naturally and spontaneously.
With my own experience there are 2 important techniques which help to relieve the stress maximum.
Most of us admire a child. We like to see him, gets happy to see their reactions. Have you ever thought why? Because the child live every moment with its 100% totality. If he is angry he is only angry, he is laughing then he is completely into it. But as we go we lose this innocence, we create boundaries around us. We have forgotten our ability to laugh, we just socially smile. We can’t laugh loudly.
Everybody knows from his own experience that after laughter, good laughter, a belly laugh, you almost feel that you have taken an ice-cold shower; a peace, a silence, a freshness…
You may have observed, or not, that man is the only animal in the whole of existence who is capable of laughing. Laughter is the only distinguishing mark that you are not a buffalo, you are not a donkey; you are a human being. Laughter defines your humanity and your evolution. And the greatest laugh is at your own ridiculous things.
But mind you, when I am asking to laugh, it’s like ROFL. Rolling on floor and laughing with so much intensity.
I am going to give the practical demo of it too. You all can simultaneously do that with me.
Just a minute or two let’s do it together.
- Another great activity is called gibberish.
The word “gibberish” comes from a Sufi mystic, Jabber. Jabber never spoke any language, he just uttered nonsense. He had thousands of disciples because what he was saying was, “Your mind is nothing but gibberish. Put it aside and you will have a taste of your own being. Use gibberish and go consciously crazy. Go crazy with absolute awareness.
Standing or sitting, close your eyes and begin to say nonsense sounds – gibberish. Make any sounds you like, but do not speak in a language, or use words that you know. Allow yourself to express whatever needs to be expressed within you. Throw everything out, go totally mad. Go consciously crazy. The mind thinks in terms of words. Gibberish helps to break up this pattern of continuous verbalization. Without suppressing your thoughts, you can throw them out in this gibberish. Everything is allowed: sing, cry, shout, scream, and mumble talk. Let your body do whatever it wants: jump, lie down, pace, sit, kick and so on. Do not let empty spaces happen. If you cannot find sounds to gibber with, just say la, la, la, la, but don’t remain silent. If you do this meditation with other people, do not relate or interfere with them in any way. Just stay with what is happening to you, and don’t bother about what others are doing.
Try following it and share your experience.