on September 27, 2006
The introduction to "Art of Stress-free Living" starts with a quote by Dr. Redford Williams, Duke University: "Diet and exercise alone are like a two-legged stool. It's more stable with the third leg, stress management." However, Dr. Dhillon goes even further that for healthy heart stress management is even more important than weight control and lower cholesterol. He observes that his stressed friends who were not overweight, had normal cholesterol ended up with bypass surgery, whereas those who are overweight but with low stress level did not need bypass surgery so far (in their mid-sixties now). He provides various studies and statistics on "high cost of stress" in terms of health as well as wealth. The studies show sixty to 90 percent of all doctor visits involve stress-related complaints.
The book consists of six chapters each representing an independent topic: chapter 1, Mind-Body Connection; Chapter 2, Stress Management Approaches; Chapter 3, Mental Relaxation Approaches to Stress; Chapter 4, How Breathing Affects Stress; Chapter 5, The Value of Spiritual Living; Chapter 6, The Power of Now: Zen Buddhism Approach. The chapters precede by introduction, and are followed by Glossary, References, Notes, and Information 'About the Author'.
"Art of Stress-free Living" presents a totally fresh approach to "stress-free living" in which Dr. Dhillon uses his knowledge of science from the West, and yoga, breathing and spirituality from the East (as done in his other dozen books). His unique qualifications include advanced degree in life sciences and molecular biology from Yale University in the West, and his earlier education and experience with yoga, breathing and spirituality from the East. He uses his knowledge to the fullest and truly presents a synthesis of Eastern and Western stress-management approaches, a subtitle of the book..
His skillful use of scientific knowledge makes this very different from reading a medical guide to handle stress. He gives scientific reasons to use yoga, meditation, breathing and spirituality to not only handle stress but to empower yourself emotionally. A rare blend that brings science and spirituality together which are generally treated as oil and water.
Easterner or Westerner, the reader will have a fresh perspective about handling the stress. It is easy to read book that changes your outlook towards stress and humanity.
The author has taken the facts from various sources and created a blend of science and natural relaxation. But you don't find miracles and supernatural powers which will be against his scientific training. For example, in chapter 4 on "How Breathing Affects Stress", he gives a table on page 98 to show how oxygen requirements change with relaxation to show that relationship between breathing and stress is real and scientific. It's refreshing to see validity of ancient techniques in the face of modern day science. Art of Stress-free Living: Eastern and Western Approach is a practical guide that combines various stress treatment approaches known for centuries by faith healers and meditation experts, and are now recognized by modern medical practitioners.
In Chapter 1, Dhillon takes us through the effect of mental state over the body functions. He cites actual cases in which happy and stressful state of mind has shown to influence functioning of various organs that make us healthy or sick: from Happy mind and happy heart to improvement of disease-symptoms such as diabetes, cancer, sensitive gut, fertility, menopause. In this chapter, he starts with a positive and essential stress (eustress) and leads the reader into mind-body medicine. He does describe "How the Mind works" and also the emotional pain. Chapter 1 covers detailed studies on various diseases in which stress is the major player. The studies described are confined to scientific research done by reputable researchers at well-recognized universities and research institutions. Happy mind and happy heart, Mind and diabetes, Mind to soothe a sensitive gut, Mind and cancer patients, Mind and fertility, and Mind over menopause are all covered under different headings.
After establishing mind-body connection in chapter 1, the next chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 cover various approaches to stress management. However, before dealing with purely stress-management approaches, he does discuss in chapter 2 various sources of stress and stress symptoms. He gives a table that lists various life events and stress values associated with each event. This chapter also gives a graph where you can determine your stress-level. You get a clear sense of good (eustress) and bad stress (distress) in this graph. There is another table that provides a quick check of stress symptoms. The stress symptoms that include physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, behavioral symptoms are very useful to find out if we do suffer from any of such symptoms and need help. Various methods of coping with routine stress are described, for example, beating stress in the heat of battle, coping with failure, coping with travel stress, jet lag and so on.
In addition to common sense approaches to routine stress, under specific stress-management approaches are discussed "Medical Approaches" and "Non-Medical alternatives." Nutritional approach, exercise, sleep, a change of routine, financial planning, and communication are among various other means of handling stress. The author introduces relaxation techniques to be followed in detail later in the next chapters.
Chapter 3 covers popular relaxation techniques. Meditation, Progressive relaxation, Autogenic training, Transcendental meditation, and faith-based meditation techniques are covered among various traditional techniques many of which are used by hospitals. A simplified method of mind relaxation for sleep is described. Self-hypnosis and Quieting response, and various other techniques are also described. Many of these are used by trained professionals to treat patients. He suggests advantage of using professional help such as hypnotist when appropriate. However, there is enough description to follow these techniques at your own.
Chapter 4 is devoted to breathing and its relationship with stress. It describes how stress can interfere with oxygen delivery and the damaging impact of stress on arteries and heart. The table in chapter 4 gives data on changed oxygen requirements during stress and relaxation. It shows increased oxygen requirements during stress and vice versa. In this chapter is introduced the complete, yogic or total breathing and use of diaphragm. The use of breathing during meditation is described. Step by step description of specific breathing techniques for relaxation, concentration, and control over emotions is included. The exercises include Breathing to relax, Breathing for stress and emotions, Breathing for concentration, and Breathing for sensation of calm. This chapter also covers faith-based meditation and breathing techniques to relieve stress. There is even a test to know your patterns of breathing.
Chapter 5 describes values of spiritual living that goes beyond relieving stress. Why is there a spiritual need, and why spirituality raises us to a higher level of our existence and provides a meaning to life. This chapter describes a wave of new consciousness, and trend towards spirituality. How concept of god and spirituality help us coping with stress. This chapter describes virtues such as surrender, forgiveness, positive thinking, and control over mind. Description about relieving fear of death and disease and creating a state of mind without fear are emphasized.
Chapter 6 is devoted to Zen Buddhism approach and power of now to relieve stress. Control over reoccurring thoughts and power of now is shown to be a powerful tool based on Zen Buddhism philosophy. Enlightenment, emotion, psychological pain are included in this chapter. Buddha's philosophy on living life, not life situation, and all the problems being illusion of mind outside now are highlights of this chapter. Joy of being in the present and how to die to the past and future in itself is a complete approach to stress-free and pain-free life. Dr. Dhillon goes in detail about the power of now in this chapter. In this chapter, he also covers general suggestions based on Zen Buddhism.
"Art of Stress-free Living: Eastern and Western Approach" is written in times of much needed Eastern-Western approach to global issues, where the modern-day reader can learn from the best of both worlds. This book fulfills that purpose well. He takes ancient techniques of the East, and relates them to everyday living in 21st century of science and technology. Dr. Dhillon not only points out the stress as a modern day problem, but provides logical solutions. So it's a good source of information for handling stress by yourself without going to expensive seminars, wellness centers, medical offices, spas, schools, or retirement centers.
Although there are books covering various aspects of stress management, this is a very easy-to-read book with fresh perspective on this much needed aspect of health care. Many western readers will like author's scientific approach to manage stress while using ancient wisdom. It is quite interesting to read a new approach to handle this modern day epidemic: "The Stress."
Every individual, Public library, a community library with interest in Yoga, meditation and coping with the stress must have this valuable book in its collection.
Book is now Available (for individuals and libraries) on Amazon, and from the publisher who makes its books available in both the United States and Europe through all bookstores.