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Archive for February, 2007

Photo of Deborah Morrison

Healthy & Natural Journal, Feb, 2001 by Deborah Morrison

We all know how it feels to be stressed out. But what actually causes stress and what does it do to our bodies? How do we avoid the damaging effects of stress?

A medical definition of stress is that which disturbs a person’s mental and physical well-being. However, a more common definition is that stress is a heightened response to both routine and out-of-the-ordinary conditions and events.

Stress takes a daunting toll on our nation’s health and finances. Studies and surveys show that:

* 70 to 80 percent of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related illnesses.

* People who experience high levels of anxiety are four to five times more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke.

* Stress contributes to approximately 50 percent of all illnesses.

* Stress-related injuries on the job have increased from 5 percent to more than 15 percent of all occupational disease during the past 10 years.

* The cost of job stress in North America is estimated at $200 billion annually; this includes costs of absenteeism, lost productivity and insurance claims

* 7 out of 10 people surveyed said they felt stressed in a typical workday.

* Approximately 43 percent of those interviewed said they suffer noticeable physical symptoms of burnout.

Stress is a natural part of being human and can function as a source of motivation as well as a catalyst for problem-solving. Not all stress results from crises and obstacles. Stress can also be triggered by events that create intense feelings of happiness or excitement. So how do you identify harmful stress, how does it hurt you, and how can you manage it in your life?

What causes stress?

Our 21st-century lives are full of stress. We live in a fast-paced world where technology enables people to be active 24 hours a day. Our ancestors were forced to go to bed when daylight ended: in contrast, electricity allows us to stretch our working hours around the clock. We are now linked globally by jet travel and telecommunications, which contribute to the frenetic work pace. Our contemporary culture has a reverence for productivity at work; as a result, many people are under pressure to work longer and harder. Consequently, people often abandon leisure activities and family time.

Causes of stress are termed stressors. Stressors can be physical or emotional, internally or externally generated. Various stimuli, including physical violence and internal conflicts, can be found at the root of stress. Major life events, such as putting an elderly parent in a nursing home, a birth or a death, and a marriage or a divorce, are common sources of stress. Minor incidents, such as bouncing a check or being stuck in a traffic jam, can also be stressors.

Responding to stressors

A physiological process occurs as the body reacts to a stressor. This “fight or flight” mechanism is triggered by the autonomic nervous system and can be a lifesaver in times of danger. The brain releases the stimulating stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (also called adrenaline) into the system. As a result, the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, muscles tense, the senses sharpen and metabolism changes. The entire physical system is now prepared to respond to an attack. Physiologically, one feels apprehension, tension and nervousness. This reaction is clearly helpful when we’re in immediate physical danger. However, all too often, the “danger” the body is responding to is loss of a job, prolonged illness, or death of a loved one. Many modem stressors do not go away quickly, so the body stays primed to react. Ongoing exposure to stress can result in mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety and depression, heart palpitations and muscular aches and pains. If the stress is not removed or reduced , illness often follows.

A physical effect

When the body is responding to a stressor, breathing is quick and shallow. As a result, the flow of oxygen is depleted and cells are deprived of oxygen, which they need for maintenance and health. Being in a chronic state of stress also shuts down functions such as metabolism, causing indigestion, heartburn and decreased sex drive. Stress also weakens the cardiovascular and immune systems and generally depletes any of the body’s vulnerable areas.

The cardiovascular system can suffer some of the most debilitating effects of chronic stress. Stress can cause increased levels of cholesterol and other lipids in the blood and can accelerate the development of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other types of damage to blood vessels. Stress hormones may result in the presence of excessive cortisol, which can produce lesions in the heart muscles that, over time, can cause the heart to pump so erratically that death may result.

Research is also showing that stress has a negative impact on the immune system. Stress triggers hormones that are thought to inhibit the activity of white blood cells–the cells that fight off disease. These hormones have also been connected to cancer in some recent studies. Stress hormones also decrease the size of the thymus, which is responsible for the development and maintenance of the body’s immune system. Researchers acknowledge that Iong-term stress definitely suppresses the immune response.

Deborah Morrison is a Writer, Therapist, Counsellor and Speaker from Ontario, Canada.  She has written numerous articles on health, healing and spiritual life.  Her first book showed her visionary capacity and shares similarities with Blake & Gibran.  She has also co-authored a novel of spiritual depth with Arvind Singh called Nexus.

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Deborah Morrison & Arvind Singh from Ontario, Canada explore their gifts as novelists through a captivating book called NEXUS. Deborah has previously written a book of poetry called Mystical Poetry, and she has published many articles on health and spirituality. Arvind has published a number of articles on spiritual and philosophical thought both in English and South Asian languages and this is his first book.

NEXUS is an amazing spiritual adventure of Personal Transformation & Empowerment. Readers have described it as Insightful, Captivating and Inspirational. It builds on the experiences of both authors as teachers of relaxation, breath and yoga therapies. Through a poignant journey to a retreat, each person in the novel is looking to overcome personal pain including the main character, Logan Andrews.

Logan, a journalist in his mid-20s, struggles with depression to the point of suicide. Can he control his troubled mind before its too late?

In a vivid dream, Logan is guided to a spiritual retreat where he meets his lost love, Sarah, along with an arrogant millionaire, a grandmotherly woman and two insightful teachers.

Problems soon emerge for Logan and others at the retreat. What happens to each character and the depth of their personal experiences makes NEXUS a journey of transformation and a compelling read.

I’ve read many spiritual books but this one succeeds where others fail. It successfully combines a poignant story fraught with true human emotions of personal pain along with remarkable spiritual insights. James Bertrand

Nexus made me laugh and it made me cry. The story touched on many issues that I have struggled with in my own life and it gave practical advice on transforming my life. Its perfect for anyone looking for an Inspiring, Spiritual book filled with practical wisdom. Harpal Singh Khalsa.

A simple story with a simple message, Nexus invites you in to explore the characters’ thoughts and feelings along side your own. Nancy Noble

This book is totally amazing!!! It works like a dream at a subconscious level of understanding even if consciously you’re unaware of its full spiritual dimensions. Aaron

Quality Paperback edition

Published by Manor House Publishing

NEXUSImage

Available online from

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Chapters-Indigo

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Compassion forms the primary message contained in the pages of Nexus, where through empathy and genuine feeling of oneness with others, transcendence from ego-centeredness is possible. Then compassion and genuine love can be enshrined within.

The following excerpts by the Dalai Lama shed practical wisdom on bringing compassion into our daily lives:

Where Compassion Starts

“Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness. ”

“The next matter to be understood is whether it is possible to enhance compassion and love. In other words, is there a means by which these qualities of mind can be increased, and anger, hatred, and jealousy reduced? My answer to this is an emphatic, Yes! Even if you do not agree with me right now, let yourself be open to the possibility of such development. Let us carry out some experiments together; perhaps we may then find some answers.”

“For a start, it is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical. Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us. Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life. If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace rather than physical comfort.”

Transforming the Mind

“From my own limited experience, I am convinced that through constant training we can indeed develop our minds. Our positive attitudes, thoughts, and outlook can be enhanced, and their negative counterparts can be reduced. Even a single moment of consciousness depends on so many factors, and when we change these various factors, the mind also changes. This is a simple truth about the nature of mind. ”

Developing Compassion

“Self-centeredness inhibits our love for others, and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another. For true happiness to come about, we need a calm mind, and such peace of mind is brought about only by a compassionate attitude.”

“Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment. For instance, the love parents feel for their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, but it too is usually attachment. Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife…depends more on attachment than genuine love. Marriages that last only a short time do so because they lack compassion; they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation, and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears.”

“Compassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other.”

“When you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others; you wish to help them actively overcome their problems. This wish is not selective; it applies equally to all beings. As long as they experience pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.”

“Given patience and time, it is within our power to develop this kind of universal compassion. Of course our self-centeredness, our distinctive attachment to the feeling of a solid I, works fundamentally to inhibit our compassion. Indeed, true compassion can be experienced only when this type of self-grasping is eliminated. But this does not mean that we cannot start to cultivate compassion and begin to make progress right away.”

Our Connectedness & Universal Compassion

“I believe that at every level of societyfamilial, national and internationalthe key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in a particular ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities. I believe that the cultivation of individual happiness can contribute in a profound and effective way to the overall improvement of the entire human community.”

“We all share an identical need for love, and on the basis of this commonality, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences because our basic natures are the same.”

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“Nexus” is now being offered with “The Secret” at a special price on Amazon.ca when both books are puchased together. Click on the icon below to visit the link.

Buy Nexus with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne today!

Nexus The Secret

Total List Price: CDN$ 46.41
Buy Together Today: CDN$ 30.98

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To know yourself is the most important aspect of spiritual life.
While no book can reveal this fully, since knowing yourself is a personal journey for each individual. Yet the journey of each person in NEXUS touches the mind and especially the heart. Words are powerful as they can reveal, heal, illuminate and move the spirit. They can act on our mind as a balm.

Ever since I can remember, this quasi-magical quality of language, where the words act upon our psyche to create new insights and meaning, has always fascinated me. The richness of symbolic meaning is given life by our imagination and consciousness.

This is why I have been fascinated by mystical and spiritual language because realities outside ordinary experience are made real by rich symbols. Writing became an extension of this fascination with creative possibilities contained in language.

Deborah and I wrote NEXUS to offer readers a unique journey from surface pain and sorrow to the realization of a deeper peace that is within us – at the core of our being. Journey to this innermost part is “connecting to the Nexus within” and our novel explores this search.

The search for peace is not something new. Ancient civilizations have quested for the answer to self-knowledge contained in an essential question: “Who am I?”

This self-inquiry yields our infinitude as we move past labels of name, nationality, race, gender and religion. At the surface level are these labels deep within is peace.

Our mind is full of worry but when we can objectify our thoughts, we realize that our true nature is outside the thoughts as an ever-present spiritual reality. That realization is the essence of peace. Surface thoughts and emotions pass away like shadows cast by moving clouds, yet at our centre we can find stillness, silence and peace.

The outside is like the rim of a wheel always spinning but the central hub is steady and peaceful.

Wheel

In NEXUS, we experientially explore many insights into spiritual life in the narrative. The journey of personal transformation needs to communicate to the heart. So it can’t be a theory of living but a unique experience of personal transformation from the struggles of people in the novel.

Each person needs to reconnect to their inner centre of peace, their Nexus within, in order to find the source of compassion, peace and strength. Of course, the centre is always there except it can be covered by hurt and pain of experiences.

In some cases, the affliction can be deeply buried like a wound. So it requires conscious awareness before release is possible. After the heart is unburdened from laden emotions, then the truth of who you really are can be known.

Peace is not something we have to find, since it is always within us. Rather we need to uncover it. Our surface condition has an apparent reality, yet true transformation comes from within – at the core of our being.

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