How does the Cycle Work?
It’s also in us to be stressed in the right circumstances; that’s the true rhythmic and elemental piece. Like food, if we’re addicted to stress, how do we find balance without becoming overweight, diabetic or anorexic; and in this instance, complacent and apathetic or dead in the face of a kumodo dragon on some movie screen?
In simple terms, here’s the way our system expresses stress: the fore brain perceives a potentially dangerous situation and transmits this information to the hypothalamus deep in the midbrain. The hypothalamus sends a message via the sympathetic (masculine, Yang, Sun) branch of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to the endocrine system (pituitary, adrenals) which then pumps up the appropriate chemicals and limbs to deal with this danger. In the end, it’s usually adrenalin that overtakes our systems making us feel fast, strong and powerful, able to overcome anything. So we run away, or we stand and take on the challenge. This is better known as fight or flight and it takes us right back to our mammalian and sometimes reptilian patterns.
But you already know that.
How wonderful to feel so formidable! Our ego-minds get engaged encouraging us saying, “let’s do that again!” And so the cycle perpetuates.
Because our Western world no longer offers us many opportunities for the very physical and eminent danger of being killed by wild beasts, falling over a cliff, or going without food on any given day, we automatically find ways to exercise our fight-flight mechanism. Thrill seeking through outdoor adventure and other extreme behavior in our culture; driving in a car and creating stressful situations in contained environments like work or career; and relationships can trigger adrenalin just as easily. So we do it, over andover again. It becomes so sophisticated, this need for power and speed, that the tiniest things can trigger a release of our inner, biologically spiritual drug.
Physiologically we have yet to evolve to our greatest capacity, and abating stress is a really important step up into higher consciousness. If we remain stuck in the lower vibrations of stress, we cannot access the divine experiences we long for; sticking here is no better than hanging out in a dingy bar playing pool all day long or watching reality television murder stories all night long.
Like Don Quixote, we humans like to fight our elements microcosmically (inside our own spiritual, mental and emotional terrain) too, so we really need to learn a little about managing and abating stress before even our sacred practices take us into unresolvable, addictive stress patterns.
Have you ever seen a Yogi addicted to stress? No joke, I have!
Some say stress motivates us. Some say it’s a demon, calling it an ever-present, oppressive omnipotence that pervades the universe. Some deny stress altogether, thinking they’re cool and collected. I have my doubts about the truth in those images, even when the projections look calm, not sweaty. Some are just so addicted to the biochemistry of stress, and for a while, at least until they use up their resources and burn-out their adrenals, they look really good in tight skin suits, sinewy, dry muscles and rigid jawlines.
Where’s the razor’s edge here? I believe it’s up to you to find your own fine line.