In the western world most of us believe that our bodies are machines which need food, water and exercise for them to work efficiently. If something goes wrong with the machine we use doctors or surgeons for drugs or surgery to help put us right and then continue with our lives as before.
We are all too aware that there is more stress in our lives now than ever before – yes, even here in sunny Spain!! Illnesses relating to stress are increasing all the time and orthodox medicine does not have a cure for stress! Also, most doctors today do not have the time to do a lot more than just write out prescriptions so they never really get to the bottom of the problem, they just give you a tablet which will help you feel better temporarily until the stress causes the illness to occur again.
However, in the East, particularly in countries such as China or Japan, the approach is very different. People in these places view the body as an “energy system” not a machine. This understanding goes back years and years and has proved to be very successful in curing illness and disease. They believe that illness is an imbalance or blockage in the flow of energy caused by stress, negative emotions or an unhealthy lifestyle.
The stress factor
The most obvious way in which the mind affects the body is through stress. A good way to illustrate this is by using this example – imagine you are trying to squeeze toothpaste out of a tube which still has the lid on. What happens? The toothpaste has to come out somewhere and if it can’t come out of the top it will find the weakest point in the tube and come out of there….Now imagine you are a tube of toothpaste; you are feeling under pressure, stress levels rising, you carry on regardless ignoring how you feel, not making any time to deal with your anxiety, keeping all of your emotions bottled up with the lid firmly on. So what happens to the emotional pressure that is building up inside you? Trust me, it will eventually find a way out of you and if it can’t be expressed or resolved by coming out through the lid, it will find your weakest point and come out there!! This could be your immune system, your nerves, your digestive system, your sleeping pattern and so on.
Stress in itself is neither good or bad, it is how we react to stress that makes the difference. Some people rise to the challenge and deal with it, others cannot cope and it leads to panic, fear or depression. Feelings have a very stressful effect on the body if they are repressed. Incidents such as a dispute with a neighbour, coping with an ill partner, dealing with legal or financial problems all have to be dealt with but because society doesn’t allow us to scream and shout (although some people do that!) our responses have to be contained. Where do all these chemicals rushing around the body go? How are they expressed?
There can also be changes in behaviour such as an increase in habits such as smoking or drinking, bursting into tears suddenly, loss of interest in sex, not caring about your appearance and so on.
Stress doesn’t only occur at work – it can arise at many times and in many different ways. Losing a partner, getting married, losing your job, moving home are examples of times when we may experience sadness, fear, uncertainty or nervous excitement. Emotions contract the muscles and blood vessels, heighten the release of hormones such as adrenaline, affect digestion and breathing and weaken the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to illness and breakdown.
Obviously we can’t always avoid stressful situations or traumatic events but what we can do is become more conscious of our feelings and try not to repress them or deny them. Releasing and accepting our feelings as they arise is essential.
Penny is a qualified Angel/ Spiritual Master Teacher, Usui /Angelic Reiki Master Teacher, Spiritual Counsellor and ITEC Holistic Therapist. For more details visit her web site www.pennywing.com.