How stress kills your body

Why some diseases don’t get cured?

Have you ever suffered from a symptom like drowsiness, lethargy, dizziness, pain etc when all the tests results are normal? But still, there is a problem and you cannot name it. And no matter how many medicines you eat, the symptoms doesn’t go away.

Today each one of us is suffering from some of the Other kind of health problem, in spite of the tremendous scientific advances in the medical field. The market is flooded with health supplements that claim to bring the perfect state of health. However, all our attempts to cure ourselves are on the physical plain. And probably that’s the problem. we are ignoring the simplest, fastest and indispensable source of perennial health – the mind.

According to Ayurveda, the mind is the supreme controller of the body. If therefore if the mind is not stable, then the body metabolism also will be unstable. According to Ayurveda if you have anxiety depression or stress, it will lead to vata vitiation in the body. Vitiated vata Dosha will cause constipation, indigestion, bloating and multiple other digestive problems.

If if you have bouts of extreme anger, then you will have a huge tendency to develop acidity, inflammation in the intestine, peptic ulcer and other pitta dosha related disorders.

If you have a dull and unexciting life, you may develop a kapha dosha imbalance leading to sluggish digestive system. In this case, you might suffer from anorexia, heaviness after meals, lethargy, indigestion.

And these problems will never be permanently corrected on the level of the body in if we do not fix them on the mental plane. Therefore, it so happens that people go on taking medications for the decades without any permanent relief.

If we look at this concept from the modern from the perspective of modern medicine, we will find a similar correlation between the mind and body.
According to modern medicine, there are two types of nervous systems working in the body. These nervous systems are the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system. They have contrary characteristics and the balance the requirements of the human body in different conditions.

Stress, anger, anxiety, fear, and all the negative emotions Trigger the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is programmed to ensure the protection of the body in all circumstances. It stimulates a fright-flight-fight response in the body.

So if you are extremely stressed, you will naturally choose one of the above three modes of response.

The sympathetic nervous system ensures that the vital organs in the body and the muscles get more blood supply as compared to the rest of the organs which are not required for immediate protective response. According to this nervous system, muscles need more energy and nutrition to fight or to run away.

Incidentally, the blood supply to other organs like the digestive system, urinary system, skin, etc. decreases significantly under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system also reduces the activity in all these body parts.

And this is why anger, anxiety, stress, worries immediately show a negative effect on the digestive system as the sympathetic nervous system is switched ON and it reduces the blood supply and activity in the digestive system. The sympathetic nervous system can maintain this effect for a reasonably long duration. For this reasons, ancient Hindus refrained from eating anything when unhappy!

Therefore if you are always stressed, anxious or worrying, your entire body will be working under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system. And for this reason, stressed people have dull skin, lousy digestion, lack of hunger, tiredness, and multiple other health problems.

In the body, stretched for too long under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, the organs become too tired to work and give up. This stress is the reason for the high prevalence of lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension, hormonal disorders et cetera.

It is like a man who when forced to run for a very long time, eventually drops down. He can only get dragged after that.

Prolonged exposure to the activity of the sympathetic nervous system also accelerates the rate of aging in a person. Due to the hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, the body parts become overused. The body is not able to replace the old cells at the rate which can match the requirements of the sympathetic nervous system.

This lag in replacement and repair happens partly because of excessive requirements of the sympathetic nervous system, and partly due to lack of proper activity in the digestive system. The digestive system is the only source to receive nutrition in our body. If it is not working correctly, then the body’s nutritional supplies will fall short.

The only option left for the body is to deteriorate and age faster. Today most of the people are worried about health, aging, fatal disorders like cancer. Cancer cells are present in the bodies of all individuals. The disease happens only when the body is not able to kill cancer cells. Stress hormones provide a suitable condition for the cancer cells to grow in the body.

Here I would say that the law of attraction works in the case of health as well. If you are worried about any health problem, you are contributing towards creating it.

However, people don’t realize that stressful aspiration about a good life is the only cause for and for an unhealthy, short, and miserable life.

On the other hand, if you have a peaceful mind, it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system in the body. The parasympathetic nervous system relaxes the body and focuses on repair and rejuvenation.

The effect of the parasympathetic nervous system is entirely contrary to that of the sympathetic nervous system. We can compare these two effects with an example of two countries, one engaged in a war and another in peacetime. The land at war depletes its resources, whether it is the human resource or natural resource.

The war continues for a very long time, and it becomes the culture of the land. Local development subsides, basic human amenities become dear, law and order crises becomes rampant in the war-stricken country. If we look at the countries suffering from terrorism, there are unfortunate instances of even small children getting engaged in weaponry and active warfare. A body continuously under the influence of stress becomes like a country afflicted with war for details decades.

Now if we look at the effect of the parasympathetic nervous system, it provides peacetime in the body.

Major civilizations have flourished not under the influence of war but the impact of peace. Peaceful society allows time space and resources for development in all dimensions. Citizens of a peaceful reaching will have better facilities, law, and order. A non-violent society provides all the essential amenities to its citizens. Significant refinements in the form of art music and culture can happen only in the peacetime.

Now in this context, we can look at the functioning of an effect of the parasympathetic nervous system in the body. Parasympathetic nervous system triggers the “rest and digest” and “feed and breed” response in the body.

First of all, the parasympathetic nervous system relaxes nervous hyperactivity. Nervous hyperactivity creates overstimulation of all the body parts. As this hyperactivity is balanced, the blood supply gets diverted to the organs neglected under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, like the digestive system, and the excretory system, reproductive system, etc. We cannot eat, grow, or make a baby while on the run.

Parasympathetic nervous system makes us more conscious of the body. We become aware of pain, inflammation, or other problems in the body. This body consciousness is the first step toward preventing and solving health issues. Under the influence of the sympathetic nervous system, the body gets under the effect of natural pain killer, which helps to focus all the attention on the survival.

Parasympathetic nervous system regularises heart rate. It has a cardioprotective effect contrary to the erosive force of the sympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system focuses the body resources on repair and rejuvenation of the cells. It activates the digestive system, stimulates hunger, and salivation reflexes. Therefore it ensures nutritional abundance in the body. The parasympathetic nervous system relieves the toxin load by activating the excretory system.

With ample nutrition available in the body, the rate of cell replacement and repair increases compared to the speed of deterioration. Therefore, we find the monks with a radiant face, flawless skin, and perfect digestion. They can maintain ideal health without the availability of the latest health supplements our other health resources just because they have a peaceful mind.

Therefore we can safely conclude that mind is the sole cause of health or disease. And it is essential to focus on the promotion of Mental Health mental state before engaging into any other kind of health activity. Because if the mind is not healthy, it is impossible for the body to maintain health with the help of external means.

For a long healthy and happy life, we must mind our body!

This article is based on another article from Sahajmarg meditation blog – https://www.sahajmarg.org/newsletter/sahajsandesh/2019.7

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The Ayurveda Channel

Mindful Fear

One thought can erase the effect of another. Fear is one strong thought that can numb other thoughts. And fear works for almost all of us. We all fear something or the other. Initially, many of us might face problems with the implementation of mindfulness. And fear can be a good tool to become more mindful of what you are doing if have more of the fear factor in your mind.

Fear mostly affects us in a negative manner. We don’t start things or continue them because we fear failure to perform. Actually, I am writing a book on mindfulness more for my own reference in future, because I have failed so many times, that I have become really good at getting back on my feet after falling. And I hope that in the future, I will be able to practice mindfulness for a longer duration than a few minutes at a time. But these few minutes have such a blissful impact that they can help us keep going in any kind of situation.

The fear factor has worked for me in some cases. I am not talking about an absolute state of panic. But a small amount of fear, that amount which prevents you from driving the wrong side of the road or telling small white lies etc. That amount of fear can bring a lot of difference in the way we think and act, that too in a positive way. 

A mindful person can foresee things going wrong and that’s the best time to correct them. For example, as I see myself thinking something negative while cooking, I fear that I am infusing the same thoughts in the food, with in turn be transferred to my family members eating it. So, while cooking I immediately correct my thinking, at least when I am putting any ingredient in the cooking vessel on fire. Whenever I am cleaning or dusting something, I become conscious of what I am thinking, because it looks like I am smearing that object with the same thought and it better not be a negative one. Thoughts are all around us and they create the entire environment of the positivity or negativity. That’s the reason why things touched by saints are sacred and places of worship have a peaceful environment.  

This somehow came naturally to me and it might work for someone who is more prone to fear than to other negative emotions like anger or greed. I believe that the so-called negative emotions are just emotions and can be harnessed for personal betterment. They can be treated like medicines that should not be consumed as food(in large amount) when hungry(have a vacuum in the mind) but works in a small amount to help cure diseases.

For example a lot of fear before the exam can lead to mental blockage and a big zero in the exams, however a little anxiety can save you from the little mistakes made under the influence of over-confidence.

A complete absence of fear is unnatural in humans. Excess fear is pathological. Therefore, probably we don’t need to become fearless. A person with absolutely no fear can turn himself into a monster. We can regulate the fear and use it as a signal for self-protection, and not allow it to numb us into inactivity.

Imagine that you are an human inhabitant of an ecologically ruined planet and have landed on earth at night. You have no plants, no animals on your planet. Suddenly, you hear a strange sound in the dark, something that you have never heard before. Something strange touches you and you start running for your dear life. Unfortunately, the strange thing also starts to run after you. To your horror, you discover that this thing can run faster than you, can see in the dark and has piercing shining eyes!!!

You might be already dead even before this thing reaches you, just out of fear. There is no need for the scary thing to do anything! Fear will kill you.

But in case you survive to see the strange thing, you might see a dog for the first time in your life. And dogs are loving creatures. If you survive the fear evoked from barking and let out something nice to eat, you might get a most trust-worthy friend on the earth.

You can reach the happy ending, only if you are not dead out of fear already. Little fear for survival can help you think fast, it can help you think out of box, it can help you observe things more keenly and try out things that you would never have dreamt of doing in your entire life!

So fear can be good, as good as excitement, confidence and other virtues. But in the amount proportional to the amount of salt in the food, not more, not less

Om shanti shanti shanti!

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Ayurveda for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

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Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

SAD is a kind of depression associated with seasonal changes. It is also called seasonal depression or winter depression or winter blues, as it is most prevalent in cold seasons; Sharad(Autumn), Hemant(Fall), Shishir (Winter)). The affliction and symptoms are different from individual to individual. The probability of its occurrence in springtime or summer is low as compared to winter.

The exact cause of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is not confirmed, but lack of sunlight is considered to be the main factor causing SAD.

Sunlight affects and, to a certain extent, directs the body biorhythm. The major effect of sunlight is on the mental level, far more intricate as compared to its visible effects on the body.

The brightness of the light is associated with hope, enthusiasm, and life whereas darkness is associated with sadness, doubts/negative feelings and even death. Lack of light or low light for a prolonged period of time may lead to depression and mood swings, even to suicidal tendencies.

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Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

The prominent symptoms are –

  • difficulty in waking up in the morning
  • nausea
  • tiredness
  • oversleeping, and over-eating (which leads to weight gain)
  • the feeling of lethargy
  • lack of concentration
  • the tendency of social withdrawal
  • decreased sex drive
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss.

The combination and intensity of all the above symptom differ from one person to the other. In fact, any kind of transition from light to dark can trigger negative feelings in patients with severe Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) in Ayurveda

Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) is defined as “Avasada” in Ayurveda. Primarily, Kapha dosha is responsible for Seasonal Affective Disorders according to Ayurveda.

Each element has multiple qualities which are exhibited according to the context, just like the same word might have different meaning based on the topic, language or even tone of the voice. Kapha dosha is dominated by the elements of water and earth. In the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), features like structurelessness, instability of water and grossness, heaviness and motionlessness of earth function in an imbalanced negative light.

Role of the sun in the human physiology

According to Ayurveda, the human body is like a lotus. A lotus opens when the sun rises and closes with the sunset. Similarly, our metabolism kickstarts with the sunrise and slows down to a minimal basic level with the sunset. That is the reason why people who frequently have a late night meal suffer from chronic indigestion. It is because the powering factor for the digestion – the sun is not available. Best digestion can be achieved only at a high metabolic rate, which is absent at the night-time. Sun not only affects our bodies. The real effect of the sun is on our minds!

Ayurveda based hypothesis for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

Hypothesis -1

The human body is supposed to have 7 chakras which are symbolized as lotuses. These chakras or the power points are stimulated by the supreme light of divine wisdom. The chakras when opened in the divine light, bestow supernatural power to an individual. However, these chakras also has a basic role in physiology that they play in their dormant state. The sun has a basic effect on these chakras and helps to stimulate their basic functions. But when there is improper or inadequate exposure to the sunlight, it fails to stimulate the chakras and result in depression.

Hypothesis -1a

Another addition to the above concept is that due to improper exposure to the sun, the body faces difficulty to manage homeothermy or balance of internal temperature. Looking at the elemental level, less exposure to the sun might increase the Kapha dosha (cold, inactive). As the Kapha becomes imbalanced and stays in imbalanced condition for a long time, it will gradually incubate a group of diseases. Initially, it will hamper digestion, spread to other parts of the body. As a preventive response, the body will continuously signal to the person, through indigestion, feeling of uneasiness, frequent cold etc. However, if we fail to respond to the body’s requirements, it will take an internal course correction and lodge the disease in the least disruptive position in the body. Here the disease(imbalanced dosha) finds a loophole, the weakest dhatu in the body and starts to manifest in the form of a proper disorder. This pathogenesis is different for each person.

According to Charak, Rasa dhatu endows happiness (prassnata), Rakta gives comfort(sukha), mansa gives patience, comfort and forgiveness,meda gives comfort and a sense of prosperity, asthi provides enthusiasm, majja gives aural intelligence, and shukra bestows joy and peace. Now if one, multiple or all the dhatu are polluted by the dosha and are affected in their mental dimension, it will result in Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). In this case, this pollution will be caused initially by the absence of sun rays.

Hypothesis -1b

The body makes some crucial changes in its metabolism that help it to survive but might affect the brain or the nervous system is a negative manner. For example, a person who receives a cut in his salary, he might cut down on his recreation expenses and focus on bare survival. But he will not be happy. Some people might become aggressive, some might become anxious and other might just give up. The ones who give up are the ripe candidates for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). For this reason, manas prakrati is crucial, because it frames the expression of physical inadequacy in the body.

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Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) according to Ayurveda

The possible causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) can have 2 sources – mind and the body. Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) is not a temporary disease like a seasonal cough and cold. It needs a build-up for several years and/or multiple factors aggravation.

Mental Factors

  • Improper brought-up (ignorance by parents, unhappy family history)
  • Childhood abuse(mild-severe)
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Unhappy relationships
  • Anxiety
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Suppressed anger
  • Feeling of worthlessness

The mind is the absolute authority over the body. There is always the primary contribution of mental factors in the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). Most of these causal factors also appear as the prominent symptoms in individual patients.

Most of the physical symptoms of  Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) are mental projections of the individual.

Physiological Causes

Vitiation of the Kapha dosha is the primary cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). Now depending on the body type(prakrati), food, lifestyle, general health and personality (manas prakrati) of an individual, other doshas like vata and pitta also can be involved. Kapha prakrati people are more prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD).

Causes of Kapha Vitiation

  • Lack of sun exposure/ excess cold climate
  • Regular consumption of heavy, oily or incompatible food
  • Improper sleep pattern (sleeping in the daytime/ during daybreak or sunset)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic indigestion

Preventive Ayurveda for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

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Preventive Dinacharya(daily routine) for the Light-dependent Depression

All kinds of light change leave some effects on every individual. The daily solar transition periods are also very important in this context. In Indian tradition, it is considered auspicious and important to light the lamps during the dusk. It is considered inauspicious to sleep during the transition periods of the day like the sunset or sunrise, esp. the sunset.

According to Ayurveda, all kinds of starts are governed by the Kapha Dosha. Both sunrise( beginning of the day) and sunset( beginning of the night) are the time for rise in Kapha Dosha. If the Kapha dosha is vitiated then it might lead to light-dependent depression. People who sleep during these occasions might get Kapha vitiation leading to SAD in the long term.

It is believed that Tamsic or evil tendencies flare up during these transition periods, esp. in the evening. However, these are not external demonic factors, but internal mental factors. Probably people, since ancient times, have experienced mood swings or negative thinking during the daily transition periods. Therefore almost all religions recommend morning and evening prayers.

Ancients used mythology to propagate the preventive therapy for depression due to daily sunlight changes. One of such Hindu beliefs is that Gods visit the houses to bless us in morning and evening time, so this is the time for worship rituals with devotional songs, dancing etc. All this helps prevent the depressive feelings; also it restores the faith that someone is there to help us in all conditions and this reinforces hope.

Phototherapy is the treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). Sunbath, as and when possible is a great tool, except in Sharad (autumn), as it is the time of Pitta vitiation.

Apart from the above rules, one must observe some social codes of conduct that can help to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD).

Small daily rituals like daily prayers before the meals, family time (not family TV time), taking blessings of elders every day ( Hindu ritual of touching feet of elders in the morning) etc. help to bring the family together. A happy and closely-knit family is the best remedy to prevent all kinds of mental disorders.

Preventive Ritucharya for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

The best cure for depression is happy engagement!

But normally we are not able to be happy without a reason! If one is able to attain permanent peace of mind and happiness without a cause then there will be no Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) for him. Inner stability promotes outer stability.

But till the time we are in the process of achievement of inner stability, there are other effective ways to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) during different seasons.

Sexual Intercourse

According to Ayurveda, winter is the best season for sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is a good way to keep the mind and body active. Feeling of being wanted and being loved can eradicate depression to a large extent.

But sex has a flipside. If one engages in sex with a touch of artifice, then it may further deepen and darken the negative moods. So if you are using prostitution, sexting or sex-toys, there is a lower probability of satisfaction and happiness. Sex overall has a very temporary effect on Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). It may enhance the feeling of dissatisfaction and cause more depression in the long term. It is first on the list because it comes first to the minds of the majority of the population!

Casual dating helps to remove the feeling of solitude, esp. in people who are alone or staying away from their dear ones. Blind dating is a good way for people who have bad experiences in relationships because they tend to have less faith in known people.

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Celebrations

Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) mostly affects people during the winter or rains, when the sun exposure is less and there is overall low mobility due to snow, rains, cold waves etc. Celebrations provide the required entertainment and engagement during these times and prevent the depression from setting in.

Cold seasons like Sharad (autumn), Hemant (fall) and Shishir (winter) are periods that have maximum festivals in most of the religious traditions. Lot of festivals like Christmas, New Year, Dushera, Diwali (New moon night of Kartik month) are celebrated across the world in during the cold seasons. Most of the Hindu festivals fall in the darkest period of the moon.

Deepavali or Diwali is one festival that especially focuses on the light decorations. It comprises rituals like Deepdana( donation of light/lamps), full night worship( sleeping vitiates Kapha dosha during certain nights, therefore sleep is avoided, instead people devote the night for worship rituals).

Most of the festivals have some special tradition or ritual attached to it. The uniqueness of each festival arouses excitement. Besides, it gives another engagement to most of the people with generally uninteresting lives, since the preparation for each festival are usually different, in terms of delicacies or costumes or traditional dances and lots more. All these festivals gratify our senses with great food, new clothes, beautiful decorations, and lights. They make a huge contribution to maintaining our mental health.

Besides, in Hindus, this period is the time considered auspicious for weddings, which are generally celebrated with huge pomp and show, and relieve us of monotony and depression.

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Spiritual Practices

Apart from religious festivals and other celebrations, one thing that helps invariably is the faith in divine (it helps, like a placebo, even if it might not exist for non-believers). The faith helps to keep up the hope under all circumstances.

  • Many spiritual practices like singing devotional songs, dancing etc. generate a positive self-image and help to dispel depression.
  • Meditation creates balance in thought process and is one of the most important self-improvement tools.
  • Satsang (company of saints or good people) is another way of killing depression. In good company, you are exposed to positive thoughts and environment.

Ideally, spiritual practices are the best resource, having a most permanent effect on the mental health.

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Sports

Depression may set in when you have a low engagement in physical activities. A sport definitely is a very positive way to employ oneself when free. You can play by yourself or with others. The fun generated out of the game is a great resource to stay positive. Sports is esp. relevant for kinesthetic people suffering from depression.

The important thing is that more outdoor sports or sports ensuring physical activity should be taken up. Sports requiring teamwork are great, as they keep you socially engaged. The perspiration out of rigorous sports activity gives you benefits of both physical exercise and mental relaxation.  Video games should always be a second choice.

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Music

Music is a great way to keep you entertained and busy. But the kind of music you choose is important, blues or sad music might not a great help. Positive and light music has amazing results on aural people in dispelling depression.

Indian music has a classification of seasonal music (music recommended for a particular season)

Ideal raga for the seasons

Sargam or 7 sounds are the basics of Indian classical music. Different notes of these 7 sounds, used in different combinations constitute different Ragas.

Daytime is divided into 8 parts and each part is called a Prahar. It is of 4 hours duration.

Each raga is said to have a specific best time or prahar for singing when that particular set of sounds is soothing or healthy for the body.

For more details on the timings of Ragas, please refer http://uday.caltech.edu/raga.html

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Hobbies

Intensive engagement in any of the expressive arts like dancing, painting, sculpting etc. are great ways to prevent SAD.

Curative Ayurveda for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)

Ayurveda offers curative treatment based on Ayurvedic herbal preparations, a healthy diet and lifestyle, Ayurvedic cleansing therapies and Satvavjaya(Ayurvedic psycotherapy). The treatment is tailormade according to individual requirements.

Hope this article helped you with information on Ayurvedic options for Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD).

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