By Emily Fletcher
Fact: Stress is taxing on the body.
We know this by now, but are we fully cognizant of just how many good ideas stress is costing us? Stress is being called the Black Plague of our century and I don’t think that’s overdramatic. Did you know that 70–90% of all doctors visits are related to stress?
Every time you’ve ever gotten stressed, it’s left something called a precognitive commitment, or PCC, in your cellular memory. Think of a PCC as an open window on your computer. By the time we’re 20 years old, we have about ten million of those. Can you imagine having 10 million open windows on your computer and expecting the machine to do anything else elegantly?
In order to survive with all of these windows bogging down our operating system, we’ve spent years minimizing them. Instead of dealing with our increasing accumulated stress, we’ve told it, “I can’t deal with you now; I’ve gotta survive, gotta make some money, can’t deal with that breakup right now, no time to mourn, I’ve got to minimize, minimize, minimize.”
So now we’re walking around with all of these minimized windows slowing down our brain machine, weighing on us even though they’re not immediately visible on our desktop. In order to operate at our most efficient level, we need to close these windows down. But here’s the challenge: you can’t close a window if it’s minimized. You have to first open it and THEN you can close it. This is what meditation does.
Meditation and “Unstressing”
When we start meditating, it maximizes the windows so that we can actually close out of them. This first stage of pressing “maximize” is what we call unstressing at Ziva. When people start a meditation practice it is not uncommon to have a period of emotional and even physical detox, where you may find yourself a bit tired, agitated, or even sad. Don’t panic. We have to allow the body to re-open the windows, and click “goodbye” about 10 million times. And that doesn’t always feel great, because the stress can have a bit of the same flavor on the way out as it did on the way in.
However, once we start closing down all of those stressy little windows that years of fight-or-flight stress reactions have left in our nervous system, the stress starts to melt away. As you close more and more windows, your brain starts performing more elegantly and efficiently. Your brain computer is recovering, and your body is healing. You’re earning back some of the computing power that stress had been quietly stealing for years. This is why so many of the world’s top performers meditate. This is not a coincidence, they are not special. They have done the work.
And all that you have to do to keep this process going is learn to meditate.When you give your mind and body the rest it needs, your body knows how to heal itself.
Once you move through the floodgate of unstressing, the low-grade anxiety you didn’t even know was there starts to go away. All the minimized windows that you didn’t realize were bogging down your OS are gone, and now you have all this new energy so you become much more present and mindful. This is not magic, it is a return on the investment of getting to the chair every day. This newfound energy gives you more more computing power for the task at hand, which a) makes you more productive and b) makes the task more enjoyable.
If you don’t yet have a meditation practice you love, Ziva offers a number of ways to learn: Join us in person in NYC or LA to learn from Emily or one of our amazing zivaTEACHERS. Not local? Get signed up on zivaONLINE to learn to meditate online from anywhere in the world. Keep up with Ziva on social @ZivaMeditation and visit the Vault for articles, videos, podcasts and more.
This article originally appeared on Medium.