Stress is a non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it or to an external stimuli. A more practical definition is “when the problems presented by everyday life exceed our resources for coping with them, we feel stressed”. Moreover stress can also be generated from within by hopes, fears, expectations and beliefs and “most importantly due to lack of noble aims and ideals in life”. As obvious from the definition of total health, which according to WHO is physical, mental, Social and spiritual wellbeing, any attempt to address management of stress must have an integral approach. The term Management of Stress is used instead of freedom from Stress, because stress is spice of our life and freedom from stress is DEATH.
PsychoNeuroImmunology (PNI ) deals with - how psyche affects neuronal system which in turn influences immune system. As immunity goes down, one succumbs to illness, due to stress. With the study of PNI has ushered in a new era of medicine i.e. the mind-body medicine. When we consider the inter-relationship based on mind-body relationship, Stress involves integrated activities of : Cortex , Hypothalamus, ANS, Neuromuscular and Hormonal system. Imbalances in brain chemistry particularly in neurotransmitter levels, have a large range of effects on:
- brain circulation
Stress causes a reaction within the nervous system, Stress hormone Cortisol is overproduced and weakening and decreasing in the production of the calming hormones melatonin and serotonin occurs. With Subsequent production of free radicals Stress hormones may actually damage the brain when stress is sustained. Toxins and free radicals kill cells in every organ of the body. Organs that suffer the most initial cell damage are the brain, liver, pancreas, adrenals, stomach and GI tract, which ultimately lead to weakening of whole nervous system and body immunology.
At a more subtle level, it caused incoherency of inner consciousness reflected in haphazard thought pattern, overindulgence in sense gratification, self-pity and led to severe depression. Meditation, takes us on an inward journey that bridge the gap between thoughts and Establishes a conscious contact with the creative energy of life-force. During meditation, the body gains a state of profound rest. At the same time, the brain and mind become more alert, indicating a state of restful alertness. Meditation creates a unique hypo metabolic state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep.
During sleep, oxygen consumption by body drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent, this in turn increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy. Meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety. Meditation brings together all the energies of the mind and focuses them on a chosen point: Streams of thought, Deity, Flame, Fragrance. Even 20 minutes of inner equipoise is enough to give you inner peace and freshness.