STRESS: The Devil in the Details of Disease
By Arleen Lorrance
Have the doctors told you what they told me about osteoarthritis? “It comes with aging. Everyone gets some degree of it. You can take meds for it (that come with the usual side effects; some work, some don’t.) You learn to live with it.” Then too, whenever we aging folks (starting in our 50’s) complain about pains here and there, the doctors are quick to label it arthritis. The condition is not only well known, it is quite popular. Oh, and let’s not forget that it “runs” in families.
At age 75 I have dealt with my share of arthritis. I have the intermittent traveling kind. It shows up when the weather changes, especially if rain is coming. It chooses different parts of my body at different times. Sometimes my hands ache so much I can barely use them. Sometimes it is one hand and not the other. Sometimes it’s the fingers or the wrists or the fleshy part below the thumb. When arthritis grows bored with the hands, it shows up in the knees or either or both of my shoulders. Need I go on?
Over the years I have done many things to deal with the condition: anti-inflammatories (for a very short time), stretching, swimming, squeezing a ball, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc. Mostly, I helped myself by not simply accepting that everyone gets this and you just have to live with it. As we know, sometimes by accepting a reality we continue to create it in ourselves. On a trip to New Zealand I discovered the wonders of pure emu oil. I rub it into the painful areas and get significant relief, even disappearance of pain altogether. This lasts until the next bout and I start all over again.
Getting to the Root Cause
But wait, everything I have just written was true of the past, or at least since January 2014 and counting. That is when I ceased having pain anywhere in my body (after about 25 years of experiencing it with regularity.) What, you may ask, stopped the arthritis? The only answer I can give is that I stopped it. How? I suddenly saw its root cause and I immediately changed my way of living.
What I discovered was STRESS: the hidden, underlying kind that lurks like a devil just beneath my consciousness. It is often there even when I am at relative ease and I am certain I am not creating stress about anything. This was a major revelation to me and it is radically changing my life by eliminating aches and pains that walked about with me.
The change occurred starting January 17, 2014 as I sat on an airplane heading out for a 21-day vacation. Before I left I knew one thing: I needed a long rest. Prior to departure I was engaged in my usual busy life, focused on getting things done. I didn’t think I was pushing (not any more than usual) but I did know that I needed rest. I settled into my airplane seat and let go of all agendas, all thoughts and ideas, even post-it reminders. I watched the clouds go by and merged with them.
My first destination was time with family in Florida. I sat around. I read. I played. I ate and slept. I enjoyed every moment.
The first change I noticed was that my sinuses (another area of distress for about 40 years; don’t get me started) were quiet: no irritation, no drip down the throat, hardly any blowing. Of course, I immediately thought it was the change of climate from dry Arizona to humid Florida, but I had lived in dampness before and it made no difference. Instead I should have listened to my own words: “no irritation.” I mean, whenever I create irritation or resistance to anything in my life rather than saying “yes” and going with the flow of what is, it follows that I create irritation in my body: in my sinuses, in my joints, you name it.
Next, I noticed that I could sleep on my shoulders without the persistent pain that had been there the whole week before. Wow. This felt very good. After three days, I noted that I had no pain anywhere! If it wasn’t the climate (and it wasn’t), what was it?
My first clue came when I was standing in a line and started to get antsy about how long it was taking. I didn’t really have any time frame to meet but I created irritation anyway. I began to feel the undercurrent of stressful energy. We all know about blatant stress such as worrying, or having too much to do and no time to do it, or being stuck with people we don’t like, or simply having angst in general. I am well aware when I create this kind of stress. But now I became aware of something else: subliminal stress.
Subliminal stress is hidden deep under the surface of the conscious level and it festers there even when life is going well and I think I am happy and carefree. It begins to form the instant I create even a little resistance to something. Then, it waits. Along the way, I inevitably add more discontent or annoyance or aggravation. This produces irritation.
Once the process has begun, I take it even further by putting up more resistance which then causes inflammation which stops energy flow and literally invites ailment (a condition) because it is a conditional response to life. The subliminal stress gathers itself up into a pulsing beacon which sends its invisible rays out to the susceptible parts of the body, those ripe for dis-ease and pain. The inflammation sends fire to cells, nerves, muscles, and arteries, which leads to blockage, the cutting off of life force. So, there I am, clueless, feeling pretty good and yet suffering pain, while having no idea why. This is what I experienced before the vacation. I didn’t think I had been under stress, or irritated, or resistive, but under the surface a whirlpool of accumulation was taking its toll.
Excess Energy, Unused
Stress is born of excess energy that is called up but not used. Excess energy leads to excess tension. Excess tension is the fire that flames in the pain centers in the body.
What I mean by excess is overdose! I can think of many times in the car when another vehicle jumps in front of mine. I react appropriately by breaking and steering clear but in my energy field I create havoc. I panic, I shout, I jump into fear, I hold on to some pretty negative thoughts about the other driver. This is just for starters because I think about it long after the event and then I prolong it by animatedly telling others about it. Perhaps you too have done this. I have overdosed on a simple moment in time when in fact no one even got hurt and the cars never touched. The excess energy I called up finds its way to my internal pulsing beacon where hidden stress multiplies with ease.
What to do about it? First, practice saying “yes” to everything. Second, stay conscious in order to catch stress before it begins, before you create it. If you begin to feel resistance, breathe into and through it and release. It is that simple.
One day after I made this discovery I began to feel the beginnings of the usual pain in my hand. I caught it just as I was beginning to create it. I took a deep breath and exhaled through the spot on the hand. The energy moved and the pain didn’t materialize. One night, I couldn’t sleep because my mind decided to spin about something. I couldn’t get it to stop and I could feel how this could be the beginning of stress. My breathing trick didn’t work so I tried beauty instead. That very day a golden hibiscus had opened in my garden. I brought it into my mind’s eye and filled my inner screen with it. The golden petals pushed the spin out of the frame. I basked in the beauty and fell right back to sleep.
Creating calm before creating stress takes practice and it needs to be a way of life. Five days after my return from that 21-day vacation my smart phone was stolen. The urge to panic and stress was great. I rushed to report it, but on the way I remembered to breathe. My inner voice said ‘let it go’ and I joked back, “I don’t need to let it go. It is already gone.”
That evening I went to buy a replacement and the young man who helped me remarked that he had never seen someone so calm on the day of losing a smart phone. He said that most people are simply off-the-wall in their distress. I thanked him for his feedback and told him what I was practicing.
I have been focusing on flow and ease and merging with life as it is. I do this every day and I am pleased to report that I still have no pain anywhere, months later and counting.