In this discussion we are mainly concerned with relaxation and psychosomatic diseases. These two subjects are very closely related as we will shortly explain.
In the previous two lessons we emphasized the importance of not sleeping during yoga nidra practice. Here we will blatantly contradict ourselves. We will recommend yoga nidra specifically as a method of inducing sleep.
Tension as a cause of illness
Many ailments are caused by deep-rooted subconscious tensions. This is especially true in the modern, competitive, industrial world. Vast numbers of people suffer from heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, ulcers, asthma, skin diseases, etc. The basic cause is mental tension. That is, they are psychosomatic.
How does mental tension cause disease? The answer is not easy to give, but the following is a brief explanation.
The physical body is composed of a number of interrelated systems. These include the involuntary functions of the body such as the digestive, respiratory and glandular systems. These are directly under the control of the subconscious mind acting through the brain. When the mind is calm and harmonious the physical organs will also function efficiently. With mental tension, there are corresponding negative repercussions in the body. Ill health in one form or another is the result.
Normally, the muscles of the body receive a continuous influx of weak nerve impulses. This maintains muscle tone; that is, the muscles are kept in healthy condition. Every disturbance and conllict in the mind has its corresponding effect on the nervous system and brain. Excessive disturbance interferes with the tonic rhythm of the muscles. Instead of being mildly stimulated by weak nerve impulses, the muscles are overactivated without a corresponding physical need and activity. Continuous mental tension leads to excessive muscular fatigue.
The result is a continual drain of energy from the body and eventually chronic fatigue. This leaves the body weak and vulnerable to the onslaught of disease.
There are further repercussions: the involuntary systems of the body have to work harder to meet the energy demands of the over-activated muscles. The digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems have to work harder to provide more energy. The whole body functions more vigorously at a higher rate. Extra demand is placed on the internal organs such as the heart, lungs, intestines and so on. They are required to function above their normal level for protracted periods of time. Eventually, they fatigue, become less efficient and the general health of the body declines. Often there is a breakdown in one or more of these organs, leading to ailments such as arthritis, coronary problems, constipation, asthma and so on. Tension in the mind leads to the whole gamut of so-called civilized diseases.