Let’s face it. We live in a drama-addicted society. But if a perpetual state of stress-induced drama continues to be blindly accepted as a state of normalcy, if we continue to scoff, “there’s always going to be stress,” then the impetus to separate ourselves from its malignancy will be lost.
In the drama addiction cycle, when the body reacts to the fight-or-flight fear of death via the sympathetic nervous system, you are not exercising free will. You are at the mercy of physiological reactions going on inside of your body, and nothing more. Now multiply this reactionary state times every experience in your life that has caused you to feel anxiety, worry, stress, or anger. Is it in the hundreds? Thousands? Is it countless? Well then, where is the free will in that kind of life? Perhaps your body is trying to tell you to stop recreating the drama.
When the parasympathetic mode dominates we are in a calm, peaceful, relaxed state. The sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is designed to put the body in a stress mode. Let’s say you get into an argument on the subject of abortion with a friend and his opinion clashes with yours, and as a result, your ego has declared him as the enemy which, in turn, triggers the primitive fight-or-flight/fear-of-death response. This alarming state triggers the body’s release of adrenaline, preparing you for any potential threat. But there is no threat. There is only a difference of opinion.
In addition to adrenalin, the locus coeruleus is activated by stress and will secrete norepinephrine (NE) in the brain. Adrenaline and NE then serve to pull sugar from the glycogen storage in your cells, raising blood sugar levels, and resulting in an exhilarating surge of the intoxicating neurotransmitter dopamine. But here’s the catch; dopamine cleverly tricks the brain into repeating a similar conflict or drama that created the dopamine high in the first place. And thus, the drama addiction cycle continues.
You don’t have to read clinical studies to Dramacool know that stress has an effect on the body. You can feel it. You can feel the pain, the anxiety, the fear surging through your veins. Your muscles cramp, your stomach churns, and your entire body feels, well, miserable. For people who are chronically stressed, it is nothing less than a mild panic attack repeating itself, many times a day, every day, for years on end.
Over time, chronically stressed people begin to become so accustomed to their stress that they begin to know nothing else. Stress is indistinguishable from their daily life. They don’t know what it’s like to live in a continuous state of calm, peace, and tranquility. And when you try to tell them that there’s another way to live, that there doesn’t have to be stress in their life–they look at you awkwardly, as if you’re speaking gibberish. “How can that be?” They ask, puzzled. “That’s impossible,” they say. “Life is stress,” they proclaim. The spiritual master knows that life is not inherently stressful. Rather, stress comes from the judgments and reactions to whatever life brings.
So what do people do to cope with all this stressful drama? A large percentage of them turn to prescription drugs. An average of six million people a year in the U.S. alone admit to prescription drug abuse. And many more, well, just drink or eat their stress away, resulting in alcoholism and obesity.
There are many reasons we feel fear, such as fear of being seen in a bad light, fear of being wrong, fear of loss, failure, rejection, being hurt, etc., but ultimately it all stems from the primitive fear of survival. When you are ego-identified, and therefore identify part of your existence with your own opinions, something as insignificant as losing an argument to another is perceived as a psychological death.
The enlightened does not retreat to the primitive egoic need to be right. Instead of reacting, they are conscious enough to see through the ego-drama and consequently choose not to react to it. In other words, they exercise their free will. This ability to choose non-reaction, non-violence, and non-resistance is the natural mode of behavior for the spiritually enlightened.