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The level of alcohol and drug abuse in our society is part of a larger complex of problems that arise from stress or distortion in the collective consciousness. If this sounds an unfamiliar term, collective consciousness is the field that permeates society with the individual as its basic unit. Stress in individuals results in dysfunction of the central nervous system which in turn brings about an inability to fulfill desires. Consequently there is a lack of satisfaction and happiness in life generally. Stressed individuals create stress in collective consciousness, which is experienced throughout society as tension, anxiety and lethargy. Stress in collective consciousness, in turn, causes people to take alcohol and drugs as an attempt to reestablish balance and gain an illusion of optimal state of functioning and fulfillment. In many social situations there is peer pressure to indulge in such consumption.

Unfortunately despite their promoted allure, alcohol, tobacco and drugs invariably throw the system further out of balance, leading to a vicious cycle of escalating stress in both the individual and society. Since our beginnings as a colonial nation, excessive drinking in particular has been a common feature of New Zealand social life as a means of “drowning one’s sorrows” under the pretext of having a good time. Sadly the altered mental states induced by booze or drugs is felt to be preferable to coping with life in the real world. A stressed society sees this as okay and even allows the glamorising of such products, as in the case of alcohol, through public advertising.

Actually everyone knows this, so what’s new? If stress is the ogre then surely modern medicine has an answer? Sadly again the best that this sector can manage is an effort to minimise the symptoms of stress in their many forms, mainly by prescribing even more drugs. You can try to manage symptoms, such as headaches, depression and insomnia, but this does nothing to remove the underlying cause of those symptoms … the wear and tear on the central nervous system. Such wear and tear is what the profession defines as stress – this is distinct from the popular usage of the word in reference to the pressures and circumstances that cause the inner damage in the first place.

There is however some good news. Firstly the range of our bodily self-repair mechanisms includes the central nervous system, so it has the innate capacity to restore itself to normal functioning, just as the rest of the body is able to heal a broken bone or flesh wound. All that is needed are the right conditions … for the release or dissolution of stress, all the body needs is a level of rest that is deeper than sleep. Fortunately we live in a time where a universal procedure is available to easily bring about such deep bodily rest on a regular basis. It is the Transcendental Meditation technique.

This system, otherwise known as TM, is primarily a mental technique, practised sitting comfortably with eyes closed, which initially brings a profound settling of mental activity leading one to experience pure consciousness, a state of mental alertness without actual mental activity. Elsewhere I will deal with the psychological and emotional benefit this brings in daily life, but it is this mental settling, or transcending, that has a reciprocal effect on the metabolic rate in the body. Because consciousness is primary, it is the settling of the mind which settles the body, not the other way around.

The extraordinarily deep level of bodily rest (about twice as deep as sleep) that accompanies transcending is what the nervous system is crying out for in order to start releasing accumulated stress. From the day that you start to practise TM your nervous system is becoming less rather than increasingly stressed. Naturally this is reflected in so many ways … the numerous benefits to mental and physical health can be surveyed by checking out the medical research and commentary at: www.doctorsontm.org

Specifically in terms of the social behaviours mentioned at the start of this article, there is a marked decrease in the consumption of alcohol and drugs of all kinds, once one is established in the practice of TM. It must be noted that TM instruction and follow-up in no way includes counselling against the demon drink or getting stoned … the decrease happens mainly because people are feeling so much better within themselves that they are naturally dis-inclined to spoil that real-life experience with the effects of drugs and drink. Many have said to me that the thought of reaching for the bottle or cigarette packet simply does not occur anymore as they get on with what is meaningful in their lives. They are no longer driven by the ache of inner dissatisfaction that previously compelled them to indulge in life-damaging habits.

Incidentally as a postscript – the research shows a reduction in the use of all drugs … so that includes prescription medicine. No surprise really if you are less anxious, sleeping better, feeling happy all day with your blood pressure under control then it must expected that you can be weaned off chemical medication with all its side-effects. To borrow a line from the all-pervasive pharmaceutical advertising … why not “ask your doctor if TM is right for you.”

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