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Stress

Category: Events

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for  - usually but not always - a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control.

In the long term, it produces any number of symptoms from backache to headache, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety,  and depression, but it can also produce under certain circumstances, hallucinations and as we shall see even more profound spiritual experiences.  The examples I have chosen include out of body experiences.

Background

Very often stress is caused by feeling trapped within an environment which causes emotional pain, but appears to offer no hope of escape.  You cannot leave a job you do not like, or you are being forced to work long hours when you are physically unable to deal with that amount of work.  You may have been presented with numerous problems to solve all at once and the quantity of them and pressure of time overwhelms you - the need to help your mother get into a nursing home, the need to find work, the need to handle the collapse of your pension fund, the need to look after your father’s will and estate.

In a sense you are in constant fight or flight mode with little chance of release or relief.  The sympathetic nervous system is permanently being activated and in some respects we are suffering a form of Poisoning from our own adrenaline when we suffer constant stress at this level.

And physically this poisoning can make us very ill.  An excess of any chemical - neurotransmitter or not - over any time span causes damage and it can cause that damage to any organ with which it comes into contact from the brain to the veins and arteries.  It causes inflammation initially and the inflammation leads to damage.  So, for example, stress can cause endothelial dysfunction and headaches, stomach damage and heart damage.

   

How it works

Physically

Physically, any form of emotional stress causes the endocrine system to release corticosteroids.  Even animals exposed to distressing events over which they have no control, respond by releasing corticosteroids.

Corticosteroids produce structural changes in the brain. Neurons and their synapses in both the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex are changed and this leads to impairment in working memory and  spatial memory – memory.  In effect therefore, stress works physically  - at the time of the experience as opposed to long term - as an inducer of spiritual experience via the impairment of memory through temporary brain damage.

Functionally

It may be helpful to have the Model of the Mind open and to have also read the generic description of How spiritual experience works.

Stress is often a direct result of the overload of reason, logic, desires and objectives, obligations and opportunities.   As explained above, this overload is often not of our own choosing, but occasionally we overload ourselves without realising we are doing it.  With no actual pressure from anyone to do anything, we impose impossible targets and deadlines on ourselves.  Whether self imposed or imposed, the stress is caused by an overactive Conscious mind.

Stress also causes Emotion and emotion of extreme intensity.  Thus we have the combination of extreme unhappiness probably coupled with mental exhaustion, all of which is unrelenting and the subconscious is the one that suffers.

 

This double onslaught from both the Intellect and the subconscious eventually overwhelms the Will.  It may be worth mentioning that under these circumstances - where stress is prolonged and of high intensity nervous breakdowns can result. 

Generally no learnt function can match this barrage of imposed pressure.  And the learning function is also overwhelmed because it cannot learn that quickly.  A myriad of new problems to solve and in a time scale it is not capable of dealing with.

So it gives in and the Composer takes over.

Occasionally the Composer will provide a sense of inexplicable peace and relief. But where it can help and you could do something about the mess you are in, it will give you lessons.  Sometimes a stick, sometimes a carrot.  

‘You can do something’, it is telling you, ‘if you find courage you can change, you don’t have to put up with this, nor should you be putting this pressure on yourself,  I am here with you, your Higher spirit.  Change’.

Observations

Some people actually learn to step out of their body when their suffering becomes too great to be borne.  Madame Julia de Beausobre [ reference “The Woman who could not die”] achieved this during her long confinement in the Lubianka prison where sensory deprivation coupled with stress were the two mechanisms at work.

Prisoners of war in Japan also learnt to leave their body when things got very bad.

Related observations