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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Dealing with Stress

The stress of living in the twenty-first century on planet Earth requires the programming of safety valves to keep us healthy and happy. From every direction we are bombarded with forces that tend to draw us away from ourselves. The media tell us what we should like and dislike. Pressured jobs preoccupy us and can disturb our necessary sleep. Noises in the environment continually distract us from the task at hand. We can be left feeling like a battered boat on an angry sea - losing touch with what we really want, really believe, and ultimately, with who we really are. A daily practice of some spiritual nature, such as meditation, can help you keep your heart and mind open to possibility - even to miracles - and give you support and encouragement when the daily trials of modern life threaten to overwhelm you.

A variety of stress-reduction techniques and meditation forms have become increasingly popular because they work to help us in relaxing, concentrating, and attuning to the deeper, spiritual, creative self.

When we discussed Prigogene's theory earlier, we learned that it is the critical fluctuations that provoke a shift into a higher level of restructuring. Meditation, concentration, and other altered states of consciousness can cause just such critical fluctuations. Normal states of awareness show up on EEG machines as small rapid brain waves. They look something like this:

[graphic of asynchronous EEG]

When people meditate, or move inward by other means, their brain waves slow down but also become larger, like this:

[graphic of synchronous EEG]

In other words, larger waves mean larger fluctuations affecting the structure. Such states, then, break habitual patterns and, in so doing, open the system to the possibility of a new shift - a leap in consciousness, perhaps. This might take the form of a more gentle approach to life, the ability to flow with contradictions rather than to be overwhelmed by them. Or it may mean the opening of a new creative potential, since it has been demonstrated that meditation-like techniques enhance personal creativity.

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