|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 145 ]
Consider the man who went to the doctor in a state of urgency. "What is the problem?" asked the doctor. "I don’t know," said the man. "I’m going crazy with anxiety. My mind is bouncing back and forth and back and forth. One minute I think that I am a teepee, the next minute I think that I am a wigwam!"
"Ah," replied the doctor with a comforting relief in his voice. "Don’t worry. I know exactly what the problem is. You’re just two tents!"
This is all-to-often the problem, isn’t it? The modern mind flip-flops from one ridiculous thought to another, all the while creating a vicious cycle of mental 'tent-sion' (tension). What a not-so-wonderful byproduct of modern life!
Like it or not, we are all caught in a world where stress is endemic and it's nearly impossible to move out into public space without getting hit smack in the face with it--from the impatient driver behind you who is late for work, to the waiter who is having a bad day, the shopkeeper who has his eye fixed firmly on your wallet, or your co-workers pouring all their relationship problems on you.
What about a boss who just plain hates his job and makes sure you hate yours too?
Of course it's simplest to label each and every stressed-out, unfriendly person that we meet as just an idiot or a jerk, but that assessment would be unfair and usually off the mark too. Though some are indeed better at surface managing their stress and presenting a tad better social decorum than others, we are, all of us affected by this same disease—the stress of modern life.
We are children of a culture that has lost sight of deeper meaning and understanding in life, and have, most of us, become disconnected from nature and our true selves.
From the youngest age we have been indoctrinated into a society that values material success above and beyond all else, one that fosters competition on all levels, academic, athletic, business, social and political -- even competition within the family itself!
Material accolades are doled out to those who perform up to standard and beyond, and exclusions result for those who transgress or fall short of the standard.
Most of the things that cause stress in modern life are not even real, but just come from mental anxiety. Most of our tension is 'implied tension' -- worries, fears and '‘what-ifs' -- a relentless stream of things that prey upon our minds and trade upon our emotions.
This constant strain affects our relationships on every level: family, friends and social. We now live in an age where general stress and tension are at their highest levels ever!
Doctor Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, a medical doctor who specializes in psychological counselling and stress management, states in his article entitled "The Art of Relaxation":
"It is not at all surprising that recent research has supported the importance of the role of stress in premature aging and the aetiology of numerous diseases and disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, peptic ulcer, bronchial asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and even cancer. It is postulated that frequent stressful experiences lead to the failure of the normal homeostatic, self-regulating mechanisms of the organism leading to disease, premature aging, and debilitating mental and physical conditions and early or sudden death."
Many who seek the advice of a doctor are simply told that they are 'tense', which is what they already knew. But apart from medication in the most extreme cases, the average doctor has little to offer in terms of remedy, except perhaps some form of generic advice such as, "you need to find a way to relax!"
Ironically, it is the doctor him/herself who may be the tensest of all.
Doctor Ananda unequivocally declares:
"Yoga offers a way out of this 'whirlpool of stress' and is a holistic solution to the stress epidemic that threatens the very future of our humankind ... This system encompasses the cultivation of a holistic and yogic lifestyle, adoption of a health promoting yogic diet, development of correct and unbiased attitudes and various hatha yoga and raja yoga relaxation practices that help us to strengthen ourselves and develop positive health."
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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