It's time to get a grip on your thinking
Starting Over Again, Part 7
A Continuing Series on Getting on with Your Life
by Harlan L. Jacobsen
LOSS OF A LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP IS THE MOST STRESSFUL THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU
Dr. Holmes of Washington State Medical School has found that 10 times more widows and widowers die during the first year after their loss than all others in their same age group.
WHAT DOES STRESS DO TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU HAVE MAJOR LIFE CHANGES?
It turns on what is known as the Fight or Flight response, which speeds up body metabolism, a marked increase in blood flow to muscles, tends to shut down digestion processes and other body functions not essential to fight or flight. It increases the heart rate and increases the blood pressure. These are all fine things having to do with helping you survive by fighting or fleeing but in your case of stress, you do neither.
The danger to your body lies in staying in a stressful state for a long period of time, and since society does not socially accept the fighting or fleeing, your response stays turned on but you do not use it as it was intended. Down through the centuries only those humans who had a good flight or fight bodily response to stressful situations survived. Therefore, whether you now need it or not ,you inherited it and you have it.
THE DIFFERENCE IN INDIVIDUALS IS HOW YOUR MENTAL COMPUTER PROCESSES AND EVALUATES WHAT IS HAPPENING IN YOUR WORLD
If it is a major life change and your mental computer is not used to accepting change regularly, it turns on a body alarm that says "Fire up body" we are in great peril. Something is happening to us that we are not sure how to handle (body, get ready to run).
WE INHERITED THE FIGHT OR FLIGHT BODY STRESS ALARM_
Which does not always fit our modern society and is usually not appropriate in our day and age. So the mechanism that nature designed to save your life in the jungle was great for the time.
NOW DAYS IF YOU HAVE A GOOD STRESS ALARM SYSTEM, IT CAN AND OFTEN DOES KILL YOU
Because you don't use it to fight or flee. Your subconscious survival mechanism all happens automatically when something is going on in your life such as stopping doing what you "always" did, or getting into unknown territory where you have no experience, and your visualizing (worry) what you fear or don't want to happen is often interpreted by your subconscious as really and actually happening.
YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO SHUT OFF YOUR FIGHT OR FLIGHT STRESS BODILY RESPONSE ON THESE FALSE ALARMS
You need to change your mental outlook also as to what is a danger (often imagined) and what isn't, but a lot of this is deeply ingrained and automatic, so when your body gets under stress you need to learn how to unstress whenever you decide you need to.
THE OPPOSITE OF
STRESS IS BODY
RELAXATION; BE ABLE TO TURN ON THE BODY RELAXATION RESPONSE
You don't have to run the relaxation response all day long to counteract stress. Just turning on the relaxation response several times a day unwinds the body and keeps it from getting unnecessarily uptight because of accumulating and never letting go of the fight or flight feeling.
LEARN TWO THINGS--HOW TO STOP MENTALLY VISUALIZING AND TURNING ON FALSE SURVIVAL DANGER ALARMS, AND HOW TO UNSTRESS YOUR BODY SEVERAL TIMES A DAY
Surviving divorce without it aging you and taking years off you life expectancy and making you ill can be done by these two processes.
FIRST LET'S LEARN TO LET GO TO UNWIND THE OLD BOD
We suggest you read Dr. Benson's book (he is from Harvard) on the Relaxation Response if you really want to understand it. However, what we tell you here will probably suffice.
(By the way, research shows sex doesn't seem to work very well when you are under stress. We just thought you should know that to keep you motivated in doing something about divorce induced stress.)
THERE ARE SEVERAL LEARNED METHODS OF INVOKING THE RELAXATION RESPONSE
We won't list them all but here are some that have been working well for others going through great stress. (By the way--most of these will dramatically improve your life even when no great stress is hitting you.) Stress of divorce drains vital reserves of energy--and leaves us prey to illnesses. These suggested methods all "build" energy, and will help improve your life and ability to handle anything that comes down the pike, not only now but keep using it in your future. It doesn't matter so much which method you use, but we and others that have researched recovering from divorce recommend that you adopt one of these.
UNWIND WITH MEDITATION
Nope--meditation is not a religion. It is a relaxation process. You may consciously decide to let go but the more you try to relax ,he tenser your muscles become. Meditation is merely a deep relaxation technique that works for everyone and can be used anytime you choose. However, it is best done at regular times such as three times a day. It changes you from "wishing you could relax" to "I can relax".
Letting go using the meditation technique slows the heart rate, lowers the blood pressure, eliminates headaches and, when done on a regular continuing basis, generates for you a great emotional
calmness and strength to cope.
Marketed under the trade name of Transcendental Meditation (TM), TM people give you a mystical word to use that is supposedly designed for you and teach you the method. It takes four hours and there's a fee.
You can, however, learn the technique without paying large sums. However, paying money does mean that you have made a personal commitment to really give this an honest try and to do as told. All those who have learned it this way feel that it was well worth it, from those we talk to. What you pay for, you value and use; if you learn to do it free, you often do not stay with it.
Normally you figure you have only two states of consciousness awake and asleep. All of these methods we talk about here are a third state called an altered state of consciousness.
There are many ways to get into this state including drugs, using some forms of Yoga, hypnotism, meditation and bio-feedback.
WHEN YOUR WELL BEING IS THREATENED, SUCH AS BY DIVORCE, YOUR DEFENSE ALARM (STRESS) BODY ALARM IS EXPERIENCED
Meditation is a learned way of handling this without resorting to booze, drugs, excessive smoking, eating or grabbing at other straws to cope with your uptight bodily reaction and uncomfortable feeling.
YOU CAN LEARN MEDITATION WITHOUT A FEE
You will need more persistence, will power and stick-to-itness without the commitment to success by the fee and reassurance you get from the instructor. (There are others teaching meditation who help you too).
YOU ARE LEARNING MEDITATION NOW PRIMARILY TO RELEASE BODILY TENSIONS
You will gain considerable other benefits as well if you persist in using this technique over a period of time.
This is but one of the methods we recommend and you might read other alternatives before picking which you prefer, though there is no reason why you could not use all three that we recommend as usually most useful, effective, and successful.
HOW TO MEDITATE (UNWIND)
First, find a relatively quiet place where you won't be disturbed. (I know a lady who goes out in her car and meditates during lunch hour. Someone was always coming up and tapping on the glass and saying are you okay? So she made a little sign that say DO NOT DISTURB-I AM MEDITATING.) After you get good at this you can meditate almost anywhere. Initially you need quietness and assurance of no interruption.
(1) Pick a word to use as your "Mantra". Repeat your word over and over. Dr. Benson recommends using the word "one." Others recommend counting one to ten and starting over. TM users are given supposedly powerful words such as Ohm or Shom. However you select a word, stay with this word from here on --make it "yours".
(2) Sit upright comfortable, in a straight back chair. Don't slump, keep your back and neck upright fairly straight. Preferably do these exercises at least 2 hours after a meal.
(3) Take 2 or 3 deep breaths, close your eyes and begin to repeat over and over again your "word" (such as "one"). Inhale through your nose, exhale getting all the air out and as you exhale say your "word". Note the time initially and stay with this at least 15 minutes.
(4) Thoughts will wander in and out of your mind--go back to your "word" and the thoughts will go away. Concentrate on your breathing -- in and out.
(5) When done -- open your eyes, breathe deeply, and see how far you can stretch. Stay with it preferably 20 minutes. Open your eyes to check but do not use an alarm.
YOU WILL PROBABLY SAY--
True, mentally nothing probably happened, but measurable things happened to your body, which is exactly why you were doing it.
EACH TIME YOU MEDITATE, YOU WILL GET A LITTLE BETTER AT IT
More will happen to your body as it learns to really let go - you will soon be able to meditate anywhere and when you find yourself uptight, take 15 minutes to unwind and refresh.
DO NOT WORRY INITIALLY ABOUT DOING IT RIGHT
Just let relaxation occur at its own pace. Some will experience feelings of pleasure recharging and well-being right off. Others -- never. Yet both have bodily reaction and benefit.
TAKE A RELAXATION MEDITATION BREAK AT WORK
Skip the coffee break - do meditation instead. It will greatly lessen the effects of too much sympathetic nervous system activation. You will become calmer and better able to cope. Your fellow workers and even your children will tell you, that you are easier to get along with.
YOU CAN GET INTO THIS STATE USING SOME PRAYERS IN PLACE OF THE "WORD" WE HAVE SUGGESTED
You can usually find a prayer in most religions that is used to get into this state. You can use a word such as we suggested, a prayer or TM can give you a "mantra": it matters not how you get into the relaxed state, where all other thoughts are out of your mind. You may even feel a floating experience, a sort of out-of-your-body pleasurable sensation.
We suggest you do this 3 times a day for at least two weeks and after you see what it does for you and your body, you will probably continue it for the rest of your life.
NEXT ISSUE: we will get to two other methods of invoking the relaxation response and letting go including one we recommend most that can literally turn your life around in less than two weeks.