Worry is a deeply embedded pattern in us. It happens independently, without any solid, valid embedded pattern in us. It is an addiction like smoking and drinking. I read about some recent research conducted at the American College of Chest Physicians. It said that the proportion of people classified as highly nicotine dependent has increased by thirty two percent in the last eighteen years!
Any addiction happens because we want to maintain our patterns. The same is true with worry. You worry to maintain patterns. It becomes your nature.
Understand that the mind is like a piece of hardware programmed with the software called ‘worry’. For example, let us say you experience depression, or worry, every morning at ten o’clock when thinking of all your unfinished office work. Ten o’clock gets recorded as a low mood time for you. Everyday at exactly ten o‘clock you will experience a disturbance in your mood. Many of you might have experienced this. The same low mood happens on Sunday when there is no office to go to. Then you tell yourself, ‘No, today is a Sunday. I don’t need to go to the office. I don’t need to think about those things.’ Then you have relief but the mind goes back again and again to the same mood, because our mind is programmed hardware. Continue reading →
We all have a part of our brain that controls our actions such as breathing, digestion and such activities that the body does automatically, involuntarily. Nature has designed a fail-safe system in a part of our brain called hypothalamus. This part of the brain also includes what biologists refer to as the reptilian brain. Behavioral scientists often talk about the fight or flight response. When the body-mind system perceives a danger to our survival the hypothalamus is alerted by our unconscious mind. The unconscious mind functions at speeds a million times faster than the conscious mind. So even before we consciously become aware of danger, we instinctively become alert. The hypothalamus activates the pituitary gland, the master gland, which then activates the adrenalin glands that secrete the adrenalin hormone, which is pumped into our extremities, the hands and legs. We then get ready for the ‘fight or flight’ reaction – either the energy prepares us to fight the threat or to run away from the threat. The unconscious reptilian brain takes the decision to release chemicals into our body to protect us. This worked very well in the days of the caveman when he faced lions and tigers. He had to be ready even without thinking to fight or run away.
To study the effect of adrenalin on human beings today, experiments were carried out on athletes. Sprinters were lined up at the starting block and moments before the pistol was raised to signal to them to start running, the umpire lowered his arm. So, the sprinters had to fall back and reposition themselves. This was repeated six times. Without even running a meter the sprinters collapsed at the starting block! The adrenalin level in their bodies had become dangerously high. The life saving adrenalin can become a killer when it is produced without reason.
The chances of our meeting a tiger or a lion are quite slim these days. Nevertheless our unconscious mind keeps sending signals of such danger. I call them ‘fear strokes’. Psychologists estimate that we face at least half a dozen such fear strokes every day. These fear strokes produce large quantities of adrenalin in us. It has been established that depression is a direct result of such adrenalin production. Depression in turn is considered to be the main cause of many chronic and fatal illnesses. Medical research has found that many young people in rich countries, even teenagers, have arteries so badly blocked that their arteries are similar to sixty-year-old people! Doctors have established that the physical condition is only one part of the problem. A much larger part is the emotional condition. It is now fairly well established that an emotional trigger causes the immediate onset of a heart attack or stroke, even though the physical condition may have been present for a long time. Nowadays, cardiac physicians routinely request people to fill in a questionnaire on stress factors in addition to conventional tests to determine how prone they are to cardiac problems. Doctors have found that major traumas in life such as death of a loved one, loss of job, loss of money and even transfers in job and moving houses can be serious stress factors that can lead to heart attacks.
What is true of heart attacks is true of many non-life threatening but highly debilitating ailments such as backaches, migraines and ulcers. The underlying emotional or psychological factor is far more relevant than the superficial physiological causes.
Continue reading →
Worry and stress are closely interrelated. They are like parent and child. One cannot exist without the other. What works for one works for the other as well. However, given that stress is considered the biggest destroyer of health in today’s world, it is worth going into more depth on this subject.
Four hundred years ago Rene Descartes declared, ‘I think, therefore I exist.’ This has formed the basis of modern thinking. Billions of people in this world have followed Descartes* for generations believing that unless each one outthinks the other they cannot succeed in this world. Descartes was right, and he was wrong. He was right in that that the human system does not know how to live without its mind, without thinking. As a result human beings become slaves to their minds. They live in bondage.
Many centuries before Descartes, a vedic sage declared that man does not begin to exist till he stops thinking. Adi Shankara, at the age of eight, faced his future master across the waters of the holy Tungabhadra river. The master asked him, ‘Who are you?’ In response Adi Shankara- said ‘I am not the mind, I am not the intellect, I am not the ego and I am not the senses. I am beyond all that. I am pure consciousness.’
We are merely a bio-machine as long as we think we are mind and body. We are just a shade better than the animals we ascended from as long as we allow our senses to guide us. But the true potential of human beings is not merely to think and prove that we are superior to animals.
The purpose of human life is to transcend the mind and ascend to a higher state of consciousness.
In that state we are truly in the divinity that we descended from. Till we reach that state of unity with what we truly are, we are in turmoil. This turmoil, this confusion between our true nature and what we pretend and strive to be is what we call stress or tension. Continue reading →