A very important part of health which very few doctors deal with is the relationship between the mind and the body. Scientists know that stress is related to numerous health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, a weakened immune system, poor sleep, poor digestion, depression, anxiety, pain, and so on and so forth. From the perspective of mind-body medicine, stress uses the energy that could be used for healing and uses it to damage the body instead.
Giving the importance of reducing stress, the next question is what to do about it. There are thousands of methods, which experts have recommended such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, positive thinking, exercise, etc. I have explored many of these techniques and have been less than satisfied. The reason is that these techniques don’t address the cause of stress: stress-causing thoughts in the mind.
More specifically, it is the judgment that whatever is going on in your life shouldn’t be that way. It could be judgment about situations, other people, or yourself. On the road, you might think that certain drivers shouldn’t drive the way they do. At work, you might think your co-workers shouldn’t act the way they do. Equally as damaging are the judgments about yourself. You might think you shouldn’t behave or think in certain ways. You’ll notice that the common theme of stress are “shoulds” and “should nots”. We make up rules about the way life should be. If someone breaks these mental rules, which is almost guaranteed to happen, it gives your mind the excuse to blame other people and/or yourself for your problems. According to mind-body medicine, resentment, criticism, and guilt are damaging to the body.
If you step back, you’ll see that stress is really resisting life as it is. In other words, life becomes a constant battle with one problem after the other. You become a helpless victim of life.
I believe that the true nature of all people is peaceful and loving. However, the constant thoughts of judgment and resisting life suppress that part of yourself. If you were able to reach your true Self, then you would naturally become loving and forgiving which makes life more peaceful and joyful. How then do you deal with these thoughts in order to reach your natural peaceful state?
One very useful tool is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) (www.emofree.com). EFT uses simple acupressure and I’ve seen amazing changes in stress and anxiety using it. It is possible to learn it on your own, but many people get better results with a professional. Locally, I can recommend Terry Thompson Horn, a therapist in Covington. Her number is (770)-385-0940.
Another resource is Come to Your Senses: Demystifying the Mind Body Connection by Stanley Block, M.D. He has successfully used his system with thousands of people over many decades. His book is one of the very few which address stress by going to its roots. He teaches you how to look at your mental rules and resulting judgmental thoughts and to decrease their effects on you.
A third resource is Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie. She has a web site at www.thework.com which has video clips demonstrating her work.
A few caveats about the path towards inner peace. Do not be alarmed when you start to monitor your thoughts. If you do this correctly, you’ll notice that your mind is constantly making negative judgments all day long. This is the natural state of a mind not at peace. Anytime, you are not at peace, there is a judgment based on a should or should not behind it. A very common error is to try to suppress, avoid, or change negative judgments. That only makes them worse. They can never go away completely, but by using Dr. Block’s or Katie’s methods, you can learn to look at those thoughts and not have them affect you. Many people also make the mistake of judging themselves for being judgmental. Guilt just continues the cycle of negative judgment. You want to be able to look at your negative judgments objectively without judgment. Another common mistake is to think that if you don’t have judgments, then you don’t correct problems. You still correct problems, but you take care of them from a place of peace instead of from a place of anger and distress. If you are still having great difficulty with stress, seeing a good therapist can be a necessary step. Many people also report that Nutri-Energetics (NES) is very helpful.
As you work to decrease the effects of negative judgments, your true loving Self begins to emerge. You realize that external events and people are not the cause of your distress. This is the essence of true forgiveness. Life becomes happier and things going wrong won’t bother you as much. You learn to love people just the way they are and you learn that you are perfect just the way you are. More energy is available for healing resulting in better health. The suffering from illness can be decreased even to the point of needing less medication.
Instead of life being an endless series of problems, it becomes a classroom to learn about yourself and how to become more loving. All people can reach this state and it begins with the choice to look at your mind as a way of life.
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