Let us discuss some aspects of the brain which are very much concerned with how we relate to our surroundings and other people, and whether we habitually become tense or relaxed. Your head is the home of the most incredible computer in existence. It is a biocomputer of complexity beyond even our wildest dreams. It consists of an estimated ten to thirteen billion brain cells, known as neurons, and of an uncountable number of interconnections between these cells. The work of this computer is to receive, store, compare, analyze and direct all the data that we receive from the body and its surroundings via the sense organs of the ears, skin, eyes, nose, etc.
The brain has a memory of past experiences, of advice given to us by our parents, our teachers, our friends, and everyone and everything we have been in contact with and interacted with till the present day. These experiences determine how we react to different life situations. At any given moment data from the internal and external environment is sent via nerve impulses to the brain. A particular part of the brain called the limbic system compares this incoming information with previous experiences stored in the memory of the cerebral cortex. In the light of these memories, we respond to the data in a fixed, programmed manner. In other words, the response of our mind and body to life situations is determined by previous mental conditioning.
If the situations we encounter in life don't contradict our previous experiences then we suffer no emotional or mental tension. If, however, the incoming data from the surroundings does not fit the pattern of our memories then the limbic system starts to create tension. It is designed to do this so unfamiliar and possibly dangerous situations do not catch us unaware. We are programmed to become tense so that we are prepared for abnormal situations. It is a protective measure. Yet most of us are so badly conditioned that we respond to almost all of life situations as though they are a threat to our survival. We continually feel hatred, fear, anger and so on. We exist in a state of physical and mental tension.
Yet this over-emotional response to life situations is not necessary for twenty four hours a day. It is only necessary when we are faced with a real emergency. We need to change our mental programs, so that unfamiliar data from the environment does not automatically bring the limbic system into action. In this way we can begin to relax and enjoy life more.
Many over-reactions in life are due to subconscious memories carried over from childhood: fear of strangers, of the dark, of insects, dislike of the opposite sex or of people from another country. These are part ofmental conditioning and cause the limbic system to make us tense whenever we meet life situations that don't reinforce our mental conceptions. For example, if we have a fear of the dark and suddenly the brightly lit room we are sitting in is plunged into darkness, the reaction of fear in this circumstance is not necessary; it is a result of previous experiences stored in our memory. This is just an example, although similar reactions occur throughout our lives. One of the biggest complexes that modern man has is the fear of failure; the desire to be successful. Every person feels that he must be a great success or he will lose the respect of his friends, family and himself. This fear is only a programmed response; perhaps our parents and teachers continually indoctrinated us that the only worthwhile people in the world were those who 'made it'. As a result we are continually worried about failing; every situation we meet in life, every person we meet is a challenge, for they may show us up as failures. And so whatever we do in life is treated as an emergency, and we remain perpetually tense. It is only when we mix with close friends, who we know will never consider us as unsuccessful that we actually relax. This is a good example of how our mental programming governs our life and makes us unable to free ourselves and relax. Again this type of programming is not necessary - it exists only because of our faulty way of thinking and education.
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