The mind and stress and their impact on rejuvenationCornelius O'Shaughnessy
Cornelius O'Shaughnessy is the co-founder of Bodhimaya, the award-winning retreat and London wellness clinic, he has studied meditation, Eastern philosophy and the mind for over 20 years and is one of the world’s leading meditation and Eastern philosophy experts.
Renowned for his his ability to help people navigate through challenging situations, Cornelius has become a sought after advisor; his clients include some of the world’s leading CEOs, business men and women, politicians and high profile individuals.
The body isn't the only thing you need to focus on if you want a long and healthy life. Stress also has a huge impact on longevity and our body's ability to function.
The body’s reaction to stress – the fight-or-flight response – is an evolutionary development. Stress raises adrenaline, cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels, making us alert and ready to react to any threat to our survival. The problem is that we often have this reaction to issues and events that aren't a direct threat to our survival. As a result, we often live in a state of chronic stress.
Stress to a certain level, that is managed well, is good for us. It challenges our resources and encourages us to become fitter, healthier, stronger and wiser. Exercise, fasting and emotional challenges are all types of stress that keep the mind and body on its toes causing positive physiological and emotional changes. It is only when stress is sustained and chronic that it is harmful to our health. Chronic stress that isn't managed well increases the risk of depression, weight gain, digestive disorders, heart problems, inflammation and many other conditions.
Excessive and badly managed stress can also shorten our telomeres. Telomeres are caps at the end of our chromosomes that protect them from deterioration. Shorter telomeres are associated with disease and accelerated ageing.
So if we want to rejuvenate our body, we need to develop a healthy response to stress and a more relaxed approach to life.
Six Stress Management Essentials
Mediation may be the secret to a long healthy life and a calm mind. Meditation reduces stress, helps us develop self-awareness, boosts immunity, positively alters brain function, decreases inflammation, activates beneficial genetic changes and helps us react to life in more relaxed and considered way. Recent research also shows that meditation may be able increase telomerase levels. Telomerase is the enzyme that protects our telomeres - those precious little caps that safeguard our DNA.
Just 15 minutes of meditation a day is all you need see the benefits.
Meditation and mindfulness are two aspects of Eastern philosophy that have become popular and are well-recognised for their ability to combat stress (12). Having experienced the benefit of these practices, people are beginning to take a deeper look at the wider approach to the mind and life that Eastern philosophy offers.
Once the reserve of hippies and spiritual seekers, Eastern philosophy is becoming the go-to mind and self development tool for CEOs, lawyers, bankers, business people and anyone with a stressful and demanding lifestyle. Using mediation, self-awareness and the development of logical and practical wisdom, Eastern philosophy teaches us how to live in a way that manages stress, the mind, life and suffering more effectively.
Eastern philosophy teaches us that suffering is an inevitable part of life and that instead of resisting and fighting against stress, illness, grief and sadness, we should accept them as part of life. This doesn't mean we shouldn't try to remedy our problems, it just means that we shouldn't become consumed by our internal resistance to fundamental parts of the human experience. The true power of mediation, mindfulness and Eastern philosophy can only be realised with the help of an experienced teacher, so ensure that you're learning from someone who has plenty of experience and hasn't just done a weekend meditation and mindfulness course.
Forget Positive Thinking
Yes, you heard right. Forget positive thinking as a tool to deal with your problems. It doesn't work. To effectively deal with stress, negative emotions can be emotionally healthy, you need to be real and honest with yourself and connected to how you feel to. Having a positive outlook but not being consumed by negative thinking is essential, but don't just roll your problems in a superficial glaze of positive thought and tell yourself everything is fantastic when it isn't. Instead of endlessly repeating positive affirmations, it is better to connect with your emotions, find meaningful solutions to your problems and deal with the root cause of your chronic stress and suffering.
Do what you enjoy
Work towards your goals and surround yourself with the right people. We often find that work and life take over and there is little time to focus on our goals and the things we enjoy. It is essential for our emotional and physical health that we prioritise the pursuit of our goals and spend time engaging in enjoyable activities with people who are important to us. Go for a walk, a swim or go to the gym. Spend quality time with your family and friends, spend quality time alone, eat well and focus on nourishing yourself. It can be hard to prioritise these things, but if we don't, our heath and wellbeing will suffer.
Spend time with people that love you. Support you and have your best interests at heart. Most importantly, learn to let go of people that aren't making you happy. Friendships and relationships that are draining and highly stressful are not good for our health.
Think about therapy.
If you have specific issues that have been on your mind for an extended period of time then therapy can be an effective way to work through them.
There are a wide variety of therapeutic approaches and what works for one person doesn't work for everyone, so find a form of therapy and a therapist thats a good fit for you. CBT or psychotherapy are the two of the most popular therapeutic approaches.
Consult your doctor
Your first port of call should be your Doctor. Feeling unable to cope with stress can be a sign of underlaying depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. Your doctor can either rule these out or give you medical advice if there is an underlaying issue.
Meditation, mindfulness and Eastern philosophy can be fantastic tools to help us develop a peaceful and more relaxed state of mind, but they aren't always appropriate for people who have certain underlaying mental health issues.
While managing your stress more effectively can take a lot courage, honesty, self-reflection and commitment to self-development, it is an essential component of a long and happy life. The benefits of a relaxed and peaceful state of mind can have a positive impact on every aspect of our life and safeguard our physical and emotional health.