In the midst of an era of hypertension, where everyone is in a hurry to get things done, we don’t seem to find time for our emotional life. You may be running fast in order to burn fat and working hard on personal diet needs, but you are making a crucial mistake if you discount the importance of the link between physiologic aspects of stress and stressful psychological events.
Traditionally, doctors are concerned with physical signs and symptoms, prescribing medication. And when no specific disease is present, counseling is advised. Most counselors and psychologists treat diseases directly through healing personality, thoughts and emotions. Of course, this is not a new field, but a large number of people are still hesitant to use and take advantage of its benefits with regard to solving their problems, ignoring the undeniable fact that emotions can strongly affect your overall health.
It would be wise to learn from the age-old wisdom, strikingly stated by world-renowned classic writer Anton Chekhov: “A human is to be all beautiful – body, face, mind and spirit.” This formula is not about human perfection. Its content implies a new perspective: Mind – Body.
The living illustration of how the “mind – body” connection gets disconnected today can be seen in the lives of women. There are number of them, who for one reason or another, struggle with insecurity. Many are trying to be perfectionists even if that is not their nature. The desire to have the best product, the best-looking home, the best figure, can become a compulsion. This need to attain perfection, an attitude that has been partly encouraged by the American culture, slowly crushes their hearts, leaving emptiness, depression and isolation.
More often than not, a woman’s inability to tolerate life’s stress and the simple or complex frustrations of life provokes hypertension, better known as high blood pressure. It’s not just control of what you eat and how you sleep, but the emotions – cold or hot – that cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. In fact, the high incidence of hypertension and the increase in deaths due to heart disease and stroke shows that we may not always be capable of controlling our lives.
To feel in control of your life, you need to be able to maintain or restore your emotional health. Whether you are frustrated, sad, anxious or guilty, be aware that these feelings can be lessened or eliminated all together if properly treated with the power of mind and spirit.
In the book “The Relaxation Response” written by Herbert Benson, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the author describes the four basic elements of relaxation process of the mind and spirit for those who experience emotional difficulties:
“The first element is a quiet environment. One must “turn off” not only internal stimuli but also external distractions. A quiet room or a place of worship may be suitable.
The second element is an object to dwell upon. This object may be a word or sound repetition; gazing at a symbol; concentrating on a particular feeling. For example, directing one’s attention to the repetition of a syllable will help clear the mind. When distracting thoughts do occur, one can return to this repetition of the syllable to help eliminate other thoughts.
The third element is a passive attitude. It is an emptying of all thoughts and distractions from one’s mind. A passive attitude appears to be the most essential factor in eliciting the Relaxation Response. Thoughts, imagery and feelings may drift into one’s awareness. One should not concentrate on these perceptions but allow them to pass on. A person should not be concerned with how well he or she is doing.
Usually a sitting position is recommended. We believe the sitting, kneeling, squatting, swaying postures assumed in various forms of prayer have evolved to keep the practitioner from falling asleep. The desired altered state of consciousness is not sleep, but the same four elements will lead to sleep if the practitioner is lying down.