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Sanity in an age of Intensity – Part 2

How each one of us responds to our environment is determined by the way our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is developed. The ANS controls all automatic actions in our body, like heart rate or digestion, which function even without our conscious control over them. There are two sections within the ANS called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The SNS helps the body when we are stressed because it helps us ‘fight or flight’ during dangers. Nature however has created a beautiful balance with our PSNS that is anabolic, and helps us rejuvenate after our ‘fight or flight’ experience. It helps us rest and relax. But if our foundational existence is ‘fear’, or ‘insecurity’ then when we motivate ourselves to achieve, conquer, and be the best, we are also overworking our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). We are fighting a war! If you are steeped in a nerve-wracking existence, your body and mind eventually succumb to the stressors. That’s what happened to the young and talented Jennifer Capriati who at 13 was the youngest to play professional tennis. She quickly climbed to top ten and at 16, won a gold medal in the Olympics. But the rigours of professional tennis got to her; drug overdose and arrests for shoplifting brought her extensive media coverage. She admitted in an interview that she had even contemplated suicide due to tennis burnout. To her credit though, she slowly gathered her life together and in five years returned to championship form, and even went on to become world number one, and is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Receive grace with self-acceptance

Our body has a natural ability to regulate its inner environment and ensure stability even amidst fluctuations in the external situation. This natural rhythm is in sync with the universe; when we eat, sleep and live a regulated life, we ensure a homeostatic balance. Unfortunately for many an unrealistic ambition disturbs this balance. They invite stress induced diseases and habits that could have been totally avoided. Of course that would mean a few less medals and no worldly glory. But if ‘Achieve’ is your mantra, you can’t blame anyone else for your misery.

To be continued…

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