Stress is something that nowadays everyone has. Possibly life somehow has become like that. Thus even normal existence often seems like an unending tug-of-war. Plus, countless people feel helpless against this problem. Once, I was also in that pool. I thought stress was inevitable. Thankfully then, things began to change and that took 3 simple steps:
What do they mean? Well this is what we are going to discuss here.
Who causes you most of your stress?
Think a little deeply about this question; if needed close your eyes for a moment and just reflect back on your existing situation. And when you will do that you shall find that 90% of your stress must be coming to you from a few specific people.
It would be merely a few people responsible for the majority of the stress in your life. So please make your list. Go ahead, test this truth!
In this respect, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa (1836 – 1886 CE), who was a deeply revered Indian ascetic, had given an extremely practical advice to his wife and his spiritual counterpart Maa Sarada Devi (1853 – 1920 CE) before his departure from the world.
Sri Ramakrishna told Maa Sarada that while every human came to this world from the same source and in a way everyone was equal, yet people may differ widely from each other because of their inherent mental orientation. He said that in this reference you shall always meet 3 types of people in this world:
- Those whom you will find repulsive and who shall be detrimental to your interests
- Those who shall be neutral or indifferent to you in every manner
- Those who would keep a favorable approach towards your welfare
Like this Sri Ramakrishna advised Maa Sarada to stay off all those who she may find repulsive in any manner and this simple measure he said would keep her life in balance and also peaceful.
If you will assess your life you will find the same rule working there as well. Thus if you simply remove just those few people from your existence, your stress situation would immediately decline by as much as 90%.
Once again, go ahead and try it. This is all about practical application.
Please Note: These people may not be bad people; instead it would just be that somehow their mental orientation doesn’t match yours. Hence you would end up having conflicting interactions with them, causing you, your stress.
Also note that these people may be from your family as well. In fact, a lot of us face stress in life merely because of our stressed family equations. It is the discomfort arising from various relationships at home which show up at work and in other places.
Plus of course, you will meet people who are repulsive to you, outside your home as well. Thus it could be among coworkers who may do so out of their sense of competition or just anywhere; many times even absolute strangers.
The rule is simple: either stay-off or avoid or simply walk-away and then things should be calmer.
Now, what if, you may not be in a position to walk-away from all such people? What may you do in that situation?
This is where the second option of ‘people/person’ comes into relevance.
Why do you like those, who are positive to you?
Why do you like being with people who encourage you or motivate you or who are supportive of your interests or show you their love, affection and admiration?
This is simply because they bring you strength.
Thus the solution is truly simple. If you can’t dump all your repulsive people for any reason, then you must identify at least a few who always encourage you and meeting whom or talking to whom brings you great strength.
That strength then you can use to handle your stress situations arising out of your interaction with those who may be repulsive to you and whom you just can’t say good bye for any reason.
Yes, though one immensely important point of care over here.
Every person who may be good to you may not be good for you.
Thus here you shall have to use your own judgement. Nevertheless, you must always have by your side someone who can keep your energy levels high. This person could be a friend, sibling, guardian, teacher or mentor. The Sanskrit term for this habit is Satsang, meaning: the company of the noble.
This is a very powerful mechanism and can help you through the gravest of the situations.
At this point one question may come: What if that repulsive person is you, yourself? Well, why leave that question unattended even if it may be tough. So, let’s answer that as well.
What if that repulsive person is you?
This is actually a matter of self-realization. Many people have no vision of the fact that they themselves may be the reason for creating their own stress. Yet, those who are able to realize this, anyhow, then what options may they have? Can they see a light at the end of the tunnel?
Definitely, the situation is completely transformable, though with a little effort. Thus for that purpose, when you may be your own stress-creator, 3 easy sub-steps:
- Go closer to the Mother Nature
- Offer some selfless service to others
- Learn to calm your mental currents via meditation
Why you create your own stress?
For many people the reason it may be because they may have gone too deep into your air-conditioned gadgets-filled lifestyle.
Stress is largely a modern phenomenon and if you simply start devoting some time every week to any activity of choice like gardening, farming, hiking, swimming, boating/sailing, running, fishing, cycling or walking barefoot over grass or even playing a musical instrument, you will see several of your perceptions transforming.
Thus Nature, Naturism, Naturist, whatever may suit you the best, adopt that practice and you shall see immediate positive changes in your outlook and attitudes with respect to your stress handling (or creating) mechanism.
The second reason, why you may have become your own stress-factory would be because you may be living merely for yourself.
Sometimes this happens unknowingly also. On top of this, many people by their own nature are persistently over concerned about their children, family or someone they feel they deeply love. With such attitudes, they end up creating their own stress. This behavior has to be changed.
The way forward once again is easy. Simply start devoting some time in a week or a month for some work of selfless service to others.
The beneficiaries could be any one: people, animals or even plants. Go out and do something where you show genuine care for someone unknown; help some strangers and you shall see that you will start helping yourself.
Your sleep, your diet, your smile, everything shall begin to transform. Try it and you will know first-hand in an extremely subtle manner.
Finally, learn meditation.
Yes, definitely, please ask: Why meditation?
The first two sub-steps were for creating the foundation and now meditation is for delivering the final punch to the self-created stress. Let’s understand a few things here…
What is Stress?
Stress is your own negative reaction to the various situations around.
Basically, if the mind is weak then on the slightest excuse it shall dip itself into the lower order thoughts and the result would be that you will experience stress.
This stress, if left unchecked can grow into various types of anxiety disorders, which in turn may become ailments like depression. Thus, the chain is something like this:
Weak Mind > Lower Order Thoughts > Stress > Anxiety > Depression
In contrast, if the mind is strong, then it shall be able to hold-on to the higher order thoughts and thus show a far matured approach to any kind of situation arising in life. Once a person can culture such power of discrimination (intellect), then they can easily sail over all kind of stressful situations.
Strong Mind > Higher Thoughts > Power of Discrimination > Stable behavior
Now, what is meditation?
Meditation is a term used for any mechanism which strengthens your mind in such a way that your thoughts wilfully start moving towards the higher planes of your mind.
Meaning you start pouring greater attention towards the higher order thoughts like those of – courage, focus, kindness and such noble virtues.
In other words, meditation is a mechanism which transforms your mind from being weak to being strong. Once you are able to gain this strength then you are also able to:
- Either ward-off those old negative stress-causing tendencies
- Or simply learn to prevail over them like a skilled surfer or sailor.
Next: how does this meditation work?
Let’s understand the working procedure of meditation in 10 simple sentences.
- Your mind has the general tendency to go downwards, just like water.
- To reverse that flow, in every type of meditation you are given a source of illumination.
- This source of illumination is basically any subject or object which may be genetically peaceful by nature, like in our write-ups we have been using the method of listening to the chirping of the birds. Likewise there may be several methods.
- Next, you are asked to put your thoughts on this subject/object for as long as you can.
- Now due to the induction effect, the inherent peacefulness of that object is experienced by you as well.
- This makes the mind calm and relaxed.
- Once this routine is practiced daily, then finding this calmness gradually becomes your second nature.
- As a result, the general flow of thoughts in your mind also begins to change. Now, more thoughts start moving towards the higher planes. In turn, your preferences, interests and habits start transforming.
- Simultaneously, because of the improved presence of positive thoughts, the mind is strengthened.
- This leads to your gaining the ability to ward off your internal stress-creating tendencies.
Like this, over a period of time, you gain absolute control over your mind with the help of meditation and that leads you into improving your own situation. This mechanism is so powerful that it can completely transform the texture of your mind and as a result your entire personality itself.
The basic purpose of meditation has always been strengthening of the mind; which once achieved, means freedom from all types of mental ailments including the problem of stress.
Often people feel that meditation is difficult. It is complex. Those things are not correct. The best part about this science is that it can be started at a very basic level and then with practice deeper methods can be easily incorporated.
Yes, though during the initial stages you will surely have to take support from either a teacher or an experienced meditation companion. However later, you would be able to steer your journey easily by yourself. There are basically three parts to meditation training:
- Learning the background science
- Knowing the ways to overcome the obstacles from the external environment
- Mastering methods to dissolve your internal tendencies
Further, there have been several experiments around the world by leading research organizations, medical institutes and top universities to show effectiveness of meditation in handling mental health ailments like depression, anxiety and stress. Thus all needed now on your part is to find a good teacher and learn the science. Everything thereafter shall be merely about sustaining the practice.
To summarize: 5 simple points to be remembered for effective handling of stress, the way this yogi does:
- Avoid those who you find to be repulsive.
- Instead, join those who bring you courage.
- Reconnect with the Mother Nature.
- Do some selfless work.
- Practice meditation to strengthen the mind.
Try this and observe the changes that flow.
Many times you feel that your stress is due to things like their work, travel or money, etc. In this context, it is important to understand that a job which may be bringing you stress, someone else may be truly enjoying the same work. Similarly, a travel which may be pain for you could be a real boon for another person. Likewise, in the same money another individual may be living a truly joyous life.
Thus, eventually everything comes down to your own mental conditioning. Plus, if you work consciously towards strengthening your mind, then you stop suffering and start changing things for good and for always. Finally, it is this attitude which is the key to success against stress.
Next week: Insomnia – Can meditation do anything for