Doctors and medical researchers have discovered that stress has a role to play in our health. They have learned that stress can cause a breakdown of our immune system and open the door to a variety of ailments. Stress interferes with the healthy functioning of some of our bodily systems required to resist disease. It activates the "fight or flight" response causing certain biochemical reactions in our body.
When we are in a state of stress, our heart beats faster. Certain hormones are released to get us ready to protect ourselves. Once released, they cannot be recalled. A ready-alert system that was originally intended to help us escape physical harm becomes activated even in the presence of day-to-day situations that do not pose any threat to our life.
Thus, we carry within us a state of stress, or a state in which our body is responding to fear and threat even in situations that are only problems for our mind. Because we are not fighting or fleeing, our body has no way to dissipate the bottled up stress and we carry it around with us throughout the day. Ultimately, it begins to cause problems for us internally, and different organs begin reacting to that stress.
Thus, stress that is unchecked and not dissipated can affect our heart, our lungs, our circulatory system, our digestive system, our skin, and our nervous system. We may suffer from stress-related headaches, stomachaches, breathing problems, and nervousness.
We may not be able to control the contraction of certain diseases which are genetic or which are spread from the air, but we can have a measure of control over our own personal stress. There are ways to reduce and even eliminate stress in our lives. When we talk of eliminating stress, we do not mean eliminating problems. Problems will always be there. But we can eliminate our unhealthy physical response to the problems.
There is a technique called meditation that we can try in our lives. By learning the art of meditation, we will have a defense system against stress. The key is to have another kind of response to problems that will not stimulate these physical reactions in the body.
If we can learn to meditate, then we can confront problems in a way that does not upset our physiological systems. Meditation provides a way for us to learn to control our reactions.
When we are in a state of meditation, our heart beats slower. Our body and mind are relaxed. It is in a state of calm. When our body is peaceful and calm, the physical reactions to stress are stilled. It is said that we also get more rest in meditation than the same amount of time spent in sleep. Why? In sleep, we may dream. The dreams may be good or they may be stressful.
Our body may react in sleep to our dreams as it would if awake. We toss and turn in our sleep. In meditation, though, we are perfectly still. Our mind is still so there are no stressful thoughts or dreams in which we can react. Thus, it is a time of peace for our body.
If we become habituated to meditation, we may call upon that same response when we are in a difficult situation. At first, it may take a while to get used to it. But the more we meditate, the more easily we can access that state and use it throughout the day.