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Don't Worry Be Happy
By Eli Bay   Printer Friendly Version

In a world changing so incredibly fast, in a time in which the old certainties are no more, many people are starting to feel that the world is degenerating into chaos. Depressing visions and images of the future are starting to become fashionable in some circles. This trend should concern all of us. What we, as societies, believe will happen-our collective mindset- plays a significant role in shaping outcomes in the future. Emerging as self-fulfilling prophecies down the road, what we think and believe today becomes our reality tomorrow. If we allow our minds to stay locked into fear and negativity (however rational it may appear to the left brain), we are working against our personal and collective, short and long term interests. This toxic thinking is also responsible for creating many of our common stress-related symptoms and illnesses.

It is instructive, therefore, to learn that a new field of modern physics dealing with the study of chaos has discovered that what appears to be breakdown at one level is actually a stage in a process, which is reorganizing the system. Suddenly a new order emerges out of the chaos, reintegrating the system at a higher level. These leaps occur in chemical processes, in ecological systems, in cities, in the brain, in our societies. What appears to be breakdown is part of the natural restructuring which inevitably precedes a breakthrough to a higher order of organization.

As our society rapidly restructures, familiar and comfortable belief systems and institutions disappear overnight. Certainly this letting go of the old is unsettling and stressful. But rather than reacting only with heightened adrenaline, let us respond in a way that anticipates the dislocation and uncertainty because that is the way the world is and will continue to be from now on. Rather than interpreting this restructuring as chaos and degeneration, we will do ourselves and our society a great service by reframing the situation.

Let us recognize the extraordinary potential we have for creating a new, more fulfilling, and healthy society for the twenty-first century. If we can keep a perspective on the big picture and contextualize the breakdown, confusion and turbulence as the preceding act in a drama of societal evolution, we may stay reasonably centered, balanced and healthy in a time of unprecedented stress and change.

Staying well in the midst of today's rapidly changing environment is now everyone's challenge. We would be wise to direct our personal focus upon achieving a reasonable balance in life. That means taking the time out of hectic lifestyles to both exercise and relax away the day's accumulated stress. That also means eating sensibly. But perhaps of greatest importance to well being is sustaining a positive mental and emotional state in the midst of this turbulence. Wide-ranging research is making us aware that excessive melancholy; anger, anxiety, stress, aggression, and other negative emotions play a major role in illness and create deterioration in the quality of our lives.

It is challenging to be positive and optimistic when we can find so many reasons to be anxious and frightened. Even our bodies think that being anxious and ready to fight or to run is a normal state. But if you begin to look for reasons to be positive you can find much to cheer you on. In science, there are so many breakthroughs that a significantly new view or paradigm of the way the world works has emerged. In medicine, we understand that through the neuropeptides like endorphins there is a direct mind body interaction; that thoughts, for example, can affect the immune system. In biology, morphogenics explains how fields shape evolutionary development and may be consciously influenced. In physics, quantum researchers have arrived at conclusions that question several fundamental assumptions of materialism. Their theories sound surprisingly like the spiritual teachings of the world's religions that teach us that as we think, so we become.

It is easy to be buried by stress and to fall into negativity and despair. If we seek health, we must consciously strive to recognize and let go of negative emotions as they emerge - not to wallow in them even though they may be familiar and comfortable. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that the measure of one's mental health is the amount of good that one sees. Our challenge is to seek information and experiences and interpretations that can help us to stay positive and healthy.

One practical technique to switch off negative states fairly quickly is to breathe them away. If you're angry or distressed or depressed or just feeling drained and worn out, try this:

Sit in a reclining padded chair or lie down on a carpeted floor or on a bed. Loosen your belt or buttons at your waist. Unplug the phone and tell others not to disturb you. Close your eyes. Begin breathing in through your nose and guide the air down into the bottom part of your lungs ... Let your abdomen fill with air and then allow your lungs to fill from the bottom to the top, filling your entire torso with air, from your hips to your neck ... Then slowly let the air out through either your nose or your mouth, and letting go of any tightness or tension as you exhale... Continue to breathe in this way, filling your lungs slowly from bottom to top, and letting go with each out breath ... (for five or ten or fifteen or more minutes).

This redirects the flow of hormones through the endocrine system and releases endorphins. It also acts as a switch that turns on the parasympathetic nervous system and shuts down the "fight or flight" reaction we popularly called stress. If accessed regularly, this restful and revitalizing state of relaxation produces a more positive and balanced mind and body that can form the foundation for a healthier worldview. So: Don't Worry Be Happy, Relax. Try it and see for yourself.

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