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JJ the Gardener

01 - Personal Energy - Understanding Stress and Our Energies

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Personal Energy - Understanding Stress and Our Energies

The Autonomic Nervous System


Our personal energies are effected by a large part by stress.  We tend to think of stress an invisible thing but stress is actually a physical affect caused by stimulation from both physical and mental/emotional influences.  For most of us, our personal energies are not balanced and we suffer from this in ways we likely do not understand or possibly appreciate.  The following explains the  physical effects that stress inflicts upon us and in so doing we hope the word "stress" begins to have more meaning as in understanding the process, that understanding can give us a measure of control that can have dramatic positive impacts on our lives.

We will discuss several topics and for some people they will view some topics as not as important as some other topics.  Please understand that each topic is important and acts like a spoke on a wheel.  While some topics such as breathing and meditation can offer a more noticeable benefit in a quick period of time while some others do not show or illustrate their benefit as quickly such as nutrition and increased sleep.

Please understand, what follows is a skill and can be learned.  While perhaps we may have some habits that work against these topics from being utilized effectively as it may impact upon our comfort level such as actually going to sleep for the correct period of time and such as altering our breathing and posture.

By gaining an understanding and finding an appreciation for adopting the practices it will positively impact your life energies.  The topics that will be discussed are:

  • Understanding the autonomic nervous system (basic is only important but I offer more information),
  • State of Mind,
  • Sleep,
  • Breathing,
  • Meditation,
  • Nutrition,
  • Daily routines that help balance ourselves mentally and physically.


Understanding the autonomic nervous system (basic is only important but I offer more information)

Before I go into personal energy I think its important to realize and appreciate our two part autonomic systems within us. 

  • The sympathetic nervous system
  • The Parasympathetic Nervous System


Autonomic Nervous System



The sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system is generally called the flight or fight reflex.  It is a stress reflex the basically diverts our bodies energy into the vital processes of our bodies for the moment and shuts down or reduces energy to other parts of the body. 

  • Such as if we see a dog and that dog begins to chase us, the sympathetic system sends hormones to receptors that enable us to run as fast and as quickly as possible.

This system affects our heart and blood vessels and promotes the areas of our bodies that need it the most, as in the legs for the above dog chase scenario.  It also suppresses immunity and overtime with frequency this is a factor that plays a role in us being unhealthy due to reduced immune systems.

Your body goes through a number of changes when the sympathetic nervous system is activated.

  • Your heart rate increases
  • The bronchial tubes in your lungs dilate
  • Your pupils dilate
  • Your muscles contract
  • Your saliva production is reduced
  • Your stomach stops many of the functions of digestion
  • More glycogen is converted to glucose

However, the sympathetic nervous system can be activated without real world aspects and can be activated such as scary movies, work stress, bad news on tv, personal relationship hardships or just about anything stressful.  Unfortunately when this type of stimulation actives our sympathetic reflexes we do not go through the balancing aspect of the physical activity such as running or whatever action would of been applicable.  This aspect and negative consequences becomes compounded overtime.

What happens is we when we mostly have the stress component activated overtime we become accustomed to this stimulation which then becomes a habit and becomes integrated into the normality of how we live our lives and we develop significant health issues and mental aspects as a result.  Often these issues are not noticeable at early stages and leads to many problems we tend to take medications for such as high blood pressure but by understanding that how we live our lives is the root of the cause we can begin to take actions and measures that can truly cure the issue and not hide it via medications.

The following is taken from Lyam Thomas Christopher - As I think he sums it best.


Our fight-or-flight mode of existence actually spurs us to action by creating its own kind of fantasy world (for what is the material world but a highly presumptuous explanation of our sensory experience). Fight-or-flight heightens your senses, yes, but it uses a pre-programmed kind of drama to do that.

It fictionalizes your experience of the world and paints a rather bleak, over-simplified picture of it, re-defining you as a limited, physical object that is the victim of another supposed physical object. It creates an isolated inner fortress (ego) that imagines itself besieged by a hostile outer reality. This “me”-centered drama is what rises up in your mind to replace your higher brain functions.

Quite simply, the sympathetic nervous system screws with your normal baseline perception of reality. And if you get duped into the fight-or-flight mode a lot, even when it’s the mildest possible state of on-the-job stress, that’s enough to make your life look pretty damn bleak to you. Hence humankind’s unenlightened state.

In summary of the Sympathetic Nervous System is that is provides a valuable service in genuinely emergency situations but since it is easily activated by our modern life style and habits it has become a root instigator into many health and mental issues that affect us today.  The doctors will tend to give us medications that do little overall but treat a symptom.

We all hear stress is a big issue but we rarely appreciate those words.  By understanding this system perhaps we can begin to truly understand and begin to appreciate those words and start to change the cycle that is destroying us.

The following tactics can help and we will go into more on each aspect further in their own compilation.

  • Positive state of mind,
  • Meditation,
  • Breathing,
  • Exercise,
  • 7 to 8 hours sleep on a regular basis,
  • Nutrition


Detailed information about the Sympathetic Nervous System



The Parasympathetic Nervous System

The second part of the autonomic system is the parasympathetic nervous system.  This is activated when we are typically are rest and relaxing allowing our bodies to use energy in healing and maintenance type of ways. 

This system is often referred to as the feed and breed system.  The parasympathetic system when in balance with the sympathetic system enables us to reduce stress and live healthy mental and physical lives.  We often ignore this part of us and we suffer greatly for it.

The body undergoes several specific responses when the parasympathetic system is activated.

  • Your saliva is increased
  • Digestive enzymes are released
    • When we are stressed we cannot digest our foods correctly and this causes a reduction in nutritional absorption and health issues overtime.
  • Your heart rate drops
    • When this does not occur due to modern life style and modern stimulation this buildup of increases stress on the affected body parts and overtime create significant health issues.
  • The bronchial tubes in your lungs constrict
  • Your muscles relax
  • The pupils in your eyes constrict
  • Your urinary output increases
  • Regulating sexual arousal

Ways to activate the parasympathetic system is to do calming things, from breathing, light exercises, petting a dog or a cat, reading a book, sitting and enjoying the evening, listening to calm music, a soothing bath, taking a walk, gardening, spending time in nature and the list can go on and on.  Finding what works for you to that helps calm and sooth you is the answer and possibly to expand on that list to help you manage it with more tools.

These methods can assist in activating the parasympathetic system in situations such as work or when other techniques are not practical.

  • Aligning our mental and physical attentions:
    • By bringing our mental state into the physical state (what we are doing now) it can help to reduce stress by simplifying stimulation.
      • Examples: 
        • Focus on your feet on the ground or within your shoes
        • Feel the wind upon your face
        • The sun shining on you
        • The saliva in your mouth, how your tongue rests and the warmth and texture of your tongue.
        • Breathing excercises
        • Meditation and muscle relaxation techniques
        • Positive emotion and happy thoughts

The more time we spend in the parasympathetic system the better and the sooner we activate this after stimulating the sympathetic system the better for our mental and physical well being. 


Detailed information on the Parasympathetic Nervous System

In Summary
By addressing these two parts of our nervous system by understanding how modern life and its stimulation affects us we can begin to take control of our physical and mental health at a root level by simply allowing our bodies to function as intended.
As a result we can increase our mental and physical energy levels, our nutritional absorption, our mental states, our immunity and reduce the potential for chronic diseases.  It is never too late and the body is remarkable at healing if given the chance.
We hope this has given you an understanding of how stress in our lives affects us and that you will begin to take the steps to manage those stresses and become better for it.
A cultural healing and life writing and compilation
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