CAN we overcome stress? If we can, should we?
Today psychophysiologists are beginning to formulate models showing that stress, anxiety, and depression influence the body to create or aggravate mental and physical disorders. Greater stress and anxiety tend to degenerate the physical body and depress one’s mental outlook on the world.
Are there ways to reverse this process of physical degeneration while maximizing the condition under which positive attitudes, beliefs, and life-style changes can heal the afflicted body and mind?
The basic assumption at the root of current research is that there is both a psychological and a physical component to all disease. Another common assumption is that individual is able to exercise a marked degree of will power in the development, aggravation, and alleviation of these disorders.
From these assumptions one might conclude that a personal psychology or philosophy may have a pronounced effect upon whether a person maintains a positive attitude regardless of the state of health.
According to Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, estimates concerning the role of psychological factors in both physical and psychosomatic disorders range from a conservative 50-70% to full 100%.
A basic assumption in the latter estimate is that all psychological, psychosomatic, and physical disorders are either caused or aggravated by our individual reaction to stress. According to this view, illness is often comprised of an interaction of psychological and physical factors.
When we experience stress, the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system [ANC] is activated. This activation can be followed instruments which measure the galvanic skin response [GSR].
GSR is measured by introducing a weak current on the surface of the skin and determining the skin’s resistance to the flow of the electric current. With sympathetic arousal skin resistance increases, while with parasympathetic relaxation skin resistance decreases. Following application of a stress, the average individual shows a brief arousal followed by a relaxation.
During a metaphysical diagnosis or aura reading, the subject’s compensatory temperature fluctuations can become quite exaggerating. Such fluctuations are especially pronounced during the diagnosis of a particular psychic center in which energy seems to be overly concentrated.
In figure2b we see such an exaggerated reactivity during a diagnosis involving the third psychic center. During such periods, the subject –and even the one diagnosing –may notice an uneasiness which results in a tendency to shift about in their chairs. Often both simultaneously get the feeling that the experiment is too long and “just when the whole thing will be over, anyway.”
In contrast, during metaphysical healing sessions as depicted in figure 2c, subjects may show much less variation than during the control sessions represented in figure 2b.
Returning again to our metaphor, the subject may feel like his body has suddenly become like an excellent sports car that hugs the road as it rounds corners. The subject experiencing little need for “compensatory steering.” During this period subjects feel relaxed and content, and following the session, they often report the feeling of being part of a great cosmic whole.
The electromagnetic field produced by the body can also show changes during metaphysical healing. Apparently these biopotentials are intimately associated with the regenerative, growth, and healing process.
A remarkable example of the regenerative process of healing occurs among certain hospital patients who have had broken bones that would not heal –sometimes for years. These patients have had complete healing occur in six weeks following the application of a weak direct current on either side of the break in the bone.
In placing the electrodes, the negative pole must be placed toward the extremity of the bone, and the positive pole toward the central of the body. If these poles are reversed, calcium is given off from the bones, preventing the healing of the bones. This pole placement requirement reflects the natural polarity of the body’s electro magmatic field.
Dr. R. O Becker of Syracuse University noticed that certain amphibians, like the salamander, develop particular electro magmatic patterns in regenerating limbs. Similar do not develop in closely related animals, like the frog, which lack the capacity for spontaneous limb regeneration. When these patterns are artificially induced in the frog, limb regeneration occurs. Dr. Becker has even observed partial regeneration in mammals such as the rat.
Learning to live with stress not only helps us to become more resilient in our bodily reactions, it also provides that extra creative energy which is essential for feeling of well-being.
A person experiencing the anxiety of hypertension tends to respond more slowly to stress, and tends to stay aroused for longer periods afterwards. In fact, as new stresses are applied there is a tendency to become more and more aroused, as if ascending an escalator.
In time the anxious person is no longer able to respond, having reached and maintained maximum levels of sympathetic arousal. In this chronic state, the body’s capacity to remove the high concentrations of excitatory hormones and the waste products of overactive cells is impaired and the body begins to deteriorate.
In contrast to this condition, a person who regularly practices relaxation, meditation and psychic energization exercises tends to respond differently.
Such an individual appears to react more quickly to a stressful condition than does an average person, but he just as quickly relaxes. Thus, during the course of the day, such an individual can handle more stress than the average person, and without adversely influencing his health. In other words, he has more resiliency.
Resiliency to life’s many challenges is of obvious benefit. After all, we need the tension and release of stress for growing and for creating new realities. In other words, we need stress in order to be creative! Therefore, we need to develop our ability to be resilient.
During the course of metaphysical healing, additional indicators of autonomic function, such as skin temperature, can inform us of healing progress. The body has a narrow temperature range in which it normally functions.
The setting of this range is controlled much as a thermostat controls the temperature within a building. During relaxation or other activities there is a normal level of reactivity to the body’s thermostat, which is located in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, a centrally located brain structure associated with the pituitary, acts as the head of both branches of the ANS.
The reactivity to the body thermostat-setting is similar to steering a car on the highway. We may desire to drive straight down one lane of the highway, but as the car swings slightly to one side, we adjust by steering a little to the other side. If we overcompensate to the right or left, we must steer again –a little to the left or right and so forth.
The body’s temperature control mechanisms work in the same way by compensating a little, up and down, to keep us on the body thermostat-setting.
Learning to live with stress not only helps us to become more resilient in our bodily reactions; it also provides that extra creative energy which is essential for feelings of well-being and a sense of peace profound.
When we participate in creative processes we can explore countless numbers of possible patterns before finally settling on an idea. Many of us, however, encounter emotional resistance to the flow of creative possibilities. We demand of our minds an immediate, logical, finished product that stifles new creative exploration. Most of us do not lack ideas. What we lack is a rapid and direct means of getting in touch with those ideas. Is there a magic key for unlocking those secret reservoirs of imaginative power?
One magic key describe by Gabriele Rico is a creative process called CLUSTERING. A similar process using patterns is termed “mind mapping” by Tony Buzan. Both techniques use the right brain’s ability to image and synthesize. Clustering, or “mind mapping,” temporarily suspends the normally dominant left brain activity that is logical and orderly.
It is a non-linear brain-storming process akin to free association. Invisible ideas become visible, flashing out in lightning-like associations that allow new patterns of ideas to emerge.
Initially, thinkers accustomed to a logical, step-by-step approach find clustering unsettling. A frequently made remark is, “This is crazy. Where is this taking me?” With experience, however, most thinkers eventually discover that they can explore creative ideas without first knowing the “who, what, where, why, and when.” They find that creative exploration is a practical, exciting, and ultimately inspiring adventure.
In one Rose+Croix University class students were introduced to the clustering process. The students drew a circle in the center of a clean page. In this circle they placed a “seed” or “nuclear” idea. Then they opened themselves to any thoughts, ideas, images, feelings, or emotion that this “seed” evoked.
Ideas associated with “ letting go” made a splash in the students’ minds and were quickly jotted down on the paper and circled, with the circled ideas radiating outward from the “seed” idea like ripples in a pool. Some associations triggered other associations, and new circles radiated out from the secondary ideas. These secondary ideas often spread to yet other associations in a continuous, rapidly expanding ripple effect.
In clustering, each association leads inevitably to the next with a connection of its own even though the analytical left brain does not perceive the logic. These sudden subconscious associations make the connections that create the marvelous complexity of images and their rich emotional qualities. When captured on paper these associations either suddenly or gradually reveals new patterns and meanings arising from seeming chaos.
Northrop Frye, the literary critic, observed any principle or idea can become “a storm center of meanings, sounds and associations radiating out indefinitely like ripples in a pool.” Students find that clustering is rapid –the process taking only from two to four minutes to reach new patterns, meanings, and insights.
After the insight arises the student writes a brief vignette, a thumbnail sketch or cameo, of the insight. Writing the vignette which expresses the insight is also rapid, often taking another five to ten minutes. As Fry suggests, clustering is like a thunderstorm: from the gathering of the clouds with the first ideas, to the clusters falling like a cloudburst, the lightening-flash insights, the clearing blue sky of the vignette, and rainbow of the accomplishment –all in perhaps only fifteen minutes. The results are often surprising, sometimes even awesome. A frequent comment is “It simply wrote itself!”
While human nature resists the unfamiliar and unconventional, once this resistance to using the clustering approach is overcome, people find this creative exploration of ideas exciting and surprisingly productive. Students use the process to take essay exams; businessmen and engineers for writing memos and reports; writers for developing ideas –the applications are limitless.
The process reveals that each of us possesses latent creative genius –genius awaiting our release. Clustering can be a magic key for releasing our imaginative powers within.
The brain’s vitality can remain intact throughout our lives, as long as we keep exercising it,” states the Vancouver Sun newspaper. “Read, read, read,” says Dr. Amir Soas of Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Ohio, U.S.A. To retain brainpower as you age, choose mentally challenging hobbies, study a new language, and learn to play a musical instrument, or engage in stimulating conversations.
“Anything that stimulates the brain to think,” says Dr. Soas. He also encourages cutting back TV. “When you watch television, your brain goes into neutral,” he says. The Sun adds that a healthy brain also needs oxygen pumped through healthy arteries. Thus, exercise and proper diet, the same things that help to prevent heart disease and diabetes, also help the brain.