Stress is nothing more than the constant exhaustion of the thymus gland, caused by negative or weakening influences in life. -Andreas Mortiz, ND (Naturopathic Doctor)
Research often reveals that the gift of civilization is not always refined or sophisticated. A couple of Saturdays ago, while on my way to visit family, I was surprisingly greeted by a group of indecorously blissful young (visibly and audibly drunk) college students on the NYC 1 train. Why? They were celebrating Santacon. -Yes, that is a real thing.
More importantly, the train cars were overcrowded. To pass the time, these (seemingly sophisticated) students decided it was best to indulge in the hackneyed tradition of contentious college drinking games. Keep in mind, this is a public train, young children, seniors and other civil adults were present. The floor of the train car was both wet and slippery. And as stated before, it was the weekend, therefore the MTA service was as fickle as “fiscal conservatives.”
Drunk (entitled) college students + snow day + packed train (weekend schedule) = 3 shots of STRESS neuropeptides released into the bloodstream. Luckily for those of us that made the time to meditate and/or attend yoga classes; the breathing technique that we amassed, helped. And tremendously so.
“Research informs us that all of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, intentions, beliefs, and recognitions, are instantly translated into neuropeptides or neurotransmitters (neuronal nurdles of stored information) in the brain. The primary function of neurotransmitters is to serve as chemical messengers of information. The messages they deliver determine how your body operates. Bear in mind that the body— your physical state, is designed to function and serve you well.
As a result, any biochemical instruction given or received somewhere in the body (via neurotransmitters) is felt as an instruction everywhere else. This is possible because the cells of our bodies are equipped with receptor sites for all of the approximately one hundred different neuropeptides identified by neuroscientists. This helps to shed light on why every cell know what every other cell does or thinks.
Once you bear witness or your attention is uncontrollably diverted to a particular experience, the cells in your body will automatically trigger the activation of the necessary biochemical pathways. This is done to translate a strong emotion such as fear [or vexation] into chemical messages (neuropeptides) that order your adrenal glands to secrete abnormal amounts of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Once these hormones are released into your bloodstream in sufficient amounts, your heart rate begins to increase, then, the blood vessels (arteries) that supply your muscles with blood dilates.
This effect often constrict important blood vessels in the body, and thus elevating the blood pressure. If such stress responses occur on a regular basis, they can impair digestive and eliminative functions, causing considerable damage to the entire body. Most medical practitioners define this chronic condition as [protracted] stress.” (Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation, Andreas Mortiz, ND)
Our lives often mirror the accelerated pace of the current time. However, this pace was recently and impetuously (I might add) enforced by imperious and entitled men. “In the past, men were stressed if the mammoth hunt went poorly. Commotion in the cave would set in. Once a mammoth was killed, there was relative peace and clam for a long time. Today’s women (and some men) have it tougher. Mammoths are extinct, and wo(men) have to find different source of bread and butter. Modern civilization has brought with it the huge possibilities which pamper us, not at a price of comfort, but at a price of great stress. Stress can be ever-present, and we know that in the long-term, it is damaging. It weakens the immune system and is considered the main cause of human failure.” (My Herbs, Issue 3)
The thymus gland, which regulates the activation of T-cells (circulating immune cells, also called white blood cells), is the first organ affected by protracted stress. T-cells assist the body to identify and remove cancer cells or any other invading agents. The weakening influence on the thymus gland may be caused by factors such as news of negative events, an unfavorable situation, dehydration or the frequent consumption of nutritionally poor foods or beverages (such as, fast|processed foods, soda|alcoholic beverages).
The thymus gland shrinks when it is exposed to stress. It is well known that following a serious injury, surgery or sudden illness, millions of T-cells are destroyed, causing the thymus gland to shiver to half its normal size. Currently, most individuals are unaware of how much of their life energy is drained by exposing themselves to stressful situations. Regularly spending time in unhealthy environments, will simply overwhelm the body. When there is no energy left to function normally, one becomes nervous or begin to panic.
Stress ceases to affect us when we stop exposing ourselves to negative influences and correct the damage that has been caused by stressful situations. You can positively strengthen and recharge your thymus gland and entire body (if you so choose) through uplifting and encouraging activities. These activities include eating nutritious foods, listening to relaxing music, practicing yoga, meditating and/or spending more time in natural surroundings rather than indoors (or in front of one screen or another).” (Timeless Secrets of Health and Rejuvenation, Andreas Mortiz, ND)
While I will admit that some of our interactions are out of our control, how we decide to respond is entirely up to us. Breathing exercises, which is the foundation that yoga and meditation was built upon, assist to regulate the flow of oxygen throughout the entire body.
These yoga/stretching practices, (then called Kemetic Yoga) tracing their origins back to (pre-colonial) Egypt (one of the earliest, most civilized and sophisticated nations) was practiced around 40,000 BCE to improve holistic bodily functioning. “It is not just ‘highly cultured’ activities that rewire the brain. Even leisure activities change our brain; meditators (devout yogis) and meditation teachers have a thicker insula, a part of the cerebral cortex activated by paying close attention (this brain region also influences emotional intelligence). On a final note, the (most important) gift of the human brain is plasticity, allowing us to adapt to a vast range of environments.” (The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge). Why not unpack that gift?
Simply put: Stress ends by reconfiguring the brain.