Society at the end of the
twentieth century is challenging all of us to get our acts together and learn
how to cope with the newly emerging world that is taking shape around us.
One of our great challenges
is to achieve a sense of balance in a rapidly changing society that is demanding
so much of us. We are expected to work our fifty to sixty or more hours a week,
spend quality time with our children, nurture our relationships, perform our
ceaseless household duties, commute, deal with day-care, stay fit, improve ourselves,
surf the net, read, do church, community or volunteer work, and on and on and
on. And that's just before lunch. This is, of course, above and beyond the perfectionist
demands we place upon ourselves.
Technology was going to
save us. Remember "The Leisure Society" we were promised just a few years ago.
Machines were going to free us. In reality, today we are, on average, working
an entire month (in hours) a year more than we did in 1973. And most of us are
feeling really stretched. Drained. Pressured. Harassed. Living beyond or very
nearly beyond our margins. Out of balance.
Stress accumulates over
time, gradually straining every organ and system in the body until imbalance
and breakdown occur. That is why we need to shut down. There is a profound need
to let go of the stress and pressure, to get out of our own way and let our
body, mind and emotions the space to properly rest well enough to naturally
repair, recuperate, and rejuvenate. The issue is balance. You can't burn the
proverbial candle at both ends without becoming imbalanced.
Both traditional teachings
and the findings in modern medical science advise us to invest a little time
each day allowing our body and mind to properly let go "of the world"; to go
inside and release the tension in our tight bodies, quiet our incessantly active
minds, and calm the emotional expressway within. We consciously intervene to
break out of the cycle in which stress chronically strains every organ and system
in the body.
A variety of simple but
effective methods are available to achieve this relaxing and revitalizing state.
Deep muscle relaxation, breathing techniques, meditatively focusing the mind
on sounds, images or words, sound and light machines, self-hypnosis, biofeedback,
floatation tanks, massage, all induce a state in which the mind becomes alert
and calm and the body becomes relaxed and at peace. It is a "zero" state in
which the mind body systems release the stress and strain. One just lets go
of the chronically tense reaction, the braced body - and relaxes - and allows
the healing and recuperative forces of the body to mobilize, coming forth to
correct the imbalances and heal the breakdowns.
Everyone needs this relief
from stress. If deep release is not regularly achieved, the strain eventually
produces unpleasant results: common symptoms like headaches and sleeping problems;
serious problems like arthritis and asthma; life-threatening diseases such as
heart disease and cancer. As the Latin poet Ovid once wrote, "If you can't rest,
you won't endure". It's time that we moderns began to take that advice to heart.