How To Survive The Chaos That’s Killing Us
by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
We’re all living with a tremendous amount of chaos pervading over our lives. The purveyor of this chaos – whose name I shall not speak – apparently thrives on it. But what about the rest of us? How can we survive this age of anxiety?
Recently I spoke to my friend the pharmacist and asked her what are the most common prescriptions being filled today.
She said that opiates used to be number one, but that’s changed lately. Now, more patients than ever are being given tranquilizers such as Xanax, Ativan, and Valium, with antidepressants such as Prozac-type drugs next on the list.
Why are we experiencing this surge in stress, anxiety, and even suicide. From whence does it emanate? Could our steady diet of bad news– terrorism, hate, strife, fear, multiple mass killings, climate change, environmental destruction, fires, hurricanes, on an almost minute-by-minute basis be the cause? Does this constant anger and anxiety have a serious negative effect on our mental and physical health?
I believe it does and here’s why: Continuous chaos induces a chronic fear-state in our brains. This activates our reptilian brain, or brain stem. We are thus in a constant state of “fight or flight.” A little stress is good and necessary for living. When it becomes chronic and unrelenting, it’s exhausting and damaging.
In essence, we are hundreds of millions of lizards living in a constant state of alertness, walking around thinking we’re human. This reptilian activation shuts down a critically important region of your brain called the prefrontal cortex, part of the frontal lobe– the CEO of your brain. The prefrontal’s job is to send comforting messages to the amygdala and insula. The former is an almond-shaped spot deep in the limbic system, found on both sides of your brain. The insula is right behind that.
The amygdala controls emotions and certain aspects of memory function, while the insula soothes traumatic experiences. When your prefrontal area shuts down, say from continual chaos, your world becomes smaller, and you can only experience stress, anxiety, and tension. This blanks out healthier emotions such as compassion and empathy so that we tend to react to life in negative ways, with anger and hatred.
Can you see how this has become prevalent? Do you know how this can hurt you? Anxiety and depression are risk factors for all the major epidemics of our time: heart disease, cancer, autoimmune ailments and Alzheimer’s. These maladies make it difficult for you to be happy, joyful, loving, or fulfilled as a human being. They bring sadness and misery.
How can we stay in balance and create mental fitness in this age of anxiety?
The single best thing we can do is something you may never have heard of– a simple, easy, and effective yoga/meditation exercise called Kirtan Kriya, or KK. It requires just 12 minutes a day, preferably in the morning, to put up a shield against negative energy we’ll encounter the remainder of the day. Close to two decades of medical research on KK has revealed many compelling positive results.
This work, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF), was performed at top medical schools including The University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and West Virginia University. Many prestigious medical journals, including The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, have published the work.
Among many other findings, research on KK reveals activation of the prefrontal cortex. As we just discussed, this is a critically important region of the brain. What do you think follows when our KK practice activates the cortex? If you said reduced stress, decreased anxiety, less depression, and a reversal of memory issues, go to the head of the class. In stressed caregivers and women with Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), there were significant findings: KK not only reversed memory loss but also made genes younger by increasing the level of telomerase, a critical enzyme. Moreover, the actual length of the telomeres increased as well. As perhaps you know, a telomere is the protective cap of your DNA. Making your telomere longer signifies younger genes and a healthier, longer life with a better brain and memory.
The fact that women showed an improvement in memory function is critically important because women make up more than two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients. Beyond that, a woman’s risk for Alzheimer’s is twice that for breast cancer. Practicing KK on a regular basis may help women avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
The regular practice of KK also helps you develop aspects of psychological wellbeing such as discovering your true purpose in life as well as evolving spiritually.
To discover how to do KK please click here.
There are also other things we can do to maintain our sanity:
- Simply turn off the TV. Stop listening to angry, unenlightened pundits yell at each other. That will lessen the negativity to which your brain is exposed. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you’ll feel better.
- Use your phone less, especially at night. I’ve found that turning it off a few hours before bedtime and keeping it out of your sleeping space does wonders for rest and wellbeing.
- Take a nice walk outside and observe your surroundings. Breathe deeply. Stanford University researchers found that “awareness walking” improves short-term memory and mood by reducing stress and boosting feel-good chemicals.
Let us all be the change we want to see in the USA and the world. Let’s fight to save the water, earth and air. Let’s work to enjoy greater peace of mind, a rare commodity in this crazy world in which we live today.
As Sir Paul McCartney once sang on the album Abbey Road by The Beatles,
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Meditate more, share your love, find peace of mind, and defeat chaos.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
Prevention Editor Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation
The World’s Leader in Meditation and Memory
Author of Brain Longevity and Meditation as Medicine