Restlessness in life and in mind stems from the nervous system that is imbalanced. In order to really refine self and become established in stillness and equanimity, it is first necessary to heal the nervous system that gives rise to addictive, self-destructive, escapist and harmful behaviours. In this day and age, the nervous system already becomes imbalanced from birth with the early introduction of stimulants like sugar and caffeine and electronic devices and applications that specifically aim at triggering dopamine spikes in users.
The spiritual effect of an imbalanced nervous system is that firstly, it becomes nearly impossible for one to enter to the state of meditative equanimity and stillness that is required for starting spiritual practice and emotional refinement. Secondly, it bars one from maintaining the long-term stability and vision in life that can keep one on the right track of continual self-refinement, spiritual development and evolution.
The most powerful way to imbalance and destabilise the human nervous system is through traumatic experience, and especially traumatic experience over a prolonged period of time. A single severely traumatic experience can affect the nervous system negatively when the stressful experience is unable to be processed. This means that when something happens in the present which somehow triggers or relates to that stressful experience the initial nervous system response will be repeated. Where that nervous system response might have been valid in the original traumatic experience as the body’s natural response, in the future when the same experience is merely triggered in the harmless situation, the response becomes unhealthy and debilitating. The nervous system is no longer reacting to outside stimuli like it should, but rather to the mind which interprets harmless experience through a veiling pocket of unprocessed and unrefined stress.
When traumatic experiences are repeated over a long period of time, the nervous system actually gets into a cycle or routine of unhealthy stimulation or excitement. For instance, if one was beaten as a child once a week then later on in life one will continue to seek out some kind of heavy nervous system stimulation at least once a week. This is because the nervous system has already been set into this rhythm; even though the experience itself was negative, the nervous reaction is purely physical and even great violence will be experienced as a kind of excitement. Therefore one will automatically seek to recreate this same level of excitement with at least the same regularity as one has been conditioned to experience it.
The conditioning of the nervous system to receive these regular peaks of excitement is actually one of the deepest roots of most addictive behaviours. This root creates a feeling of unfulfillment and boredom as one’s internal clock cycles towards a peak; one will seek out the feeling of stress and release because the body has been programmed that way. And it doesn’t have to be specific. Addicts often cycle between a few addictions or just merge many into one flow of addictive behaviour. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, sex, violence, or adrenaline-inducing experiences, it doesn’t matter, the nervous system is interpreting all of these experiences the same way as a peak of excitement or stress and then as a release and cycling down from that peak.
In order to heal the nervous system and undo the patterns of unhealthy stimulation that lead to discontentment, addiction and a lack of success in life, one must begin to re-train the nervous system through meditation whilst also consciously refining the traumas that gave rise to the imbalance.
One must first notice the moment when there is a need and one is searching for this buzz or kick of excitement, and one must then either go cold turkey, by completely ignoring the impulse or by gradually reducing the intensity of the activity to wean self off from it.
Through the practice of meditation, one can start retraining the nervous system to experience periods of deep relaxation. One may then use this relaxed meditative state as a tool when one feels overcome by an addictive urge for stimulation. It is extremely difficult because the need is so deeply rooted in the body that it becomes almost as necessary as the need to eat or sleep. One must reinforce consciously that it is not a healthy need, but rather a programmed reactive impulse that is rooted in the traumatised and imbalanced nervous system. This way one can choose to consciously go over it.
However, one must also refine self by looking into what caused the imbalance of the nervous system in the first place. If it was caused by some traumatic incident then one must begin to consciously go into that experience neutrally with one’s awareness and begin to undo the knot of stress by seeing the experience through a still state of neutral self-awareness without creating more stories or judging self or anyone else involved in the experience.
Healing the nervous system is a long and tedious process. If one works diligently on the process of emotional/ mental refinement, cultivates stillness and purity of mind, and consciously goes into and sees how one’s nervous system has been particularly imbalanced and how exactly that manifests before gradually undoing those habits over time, then one will be well on their way to the freedom of a healthy and balanced nervous system that provides the correct foundation for spiritual evolution and bio-spiritual transformation.