De-stressing the Mind
Dr. Satya Pal Singh
The disease of stress has become the biggest killer of modern times. The psychosomatic disorders and diseases are spreading around and taking a heavy toll of valuable human lives every day. The medical doctors, the clinical scientists, and the psychologists are trying their best to stem this menacing trend. However, as the adage goes the manifold attempts have made the disease hydra-headed. Here are some of the tips gleaned from the time tested treasures accumulated over many millenniums.
1. Start loving yourself: Let us know that the human being is the greatest and the final creation of Almighty God. Our body is the embodiment of 7 seers and 8 chakras (energy circles) and a seat of gods. How can we desecrate or spoil it? Would we neglect the best gem or diamond, we have in our possession? Body is more precious than the most precious gem in the world. If a man does not love himself, how can he love others? Also, one cannot be healthy without caring for oneself. Even if an unhealthy person claims to love others, it is all temporary and myopic as well.
2. Believe in God - the Almighty Just and Kind - The God is the most powerful (omnipotent,yet without any physical attributes ), all knowledge (omniscient) and all Bliss and beatitude. We believe in God but do not know about Him so it is must to know the real form of formless God. Let us know that any thing in physical form is subject to birth, decay and death. Secondly, physical things are mostly visible and visible things are run and controlled by the invisible which is more pervasive and powerful. See the amazing power of invisible mind and intellect. The unflinching faith in the eternal, omnipresent, omniscient and all bliss God is the most potent stress reliever
3. Believe in the justice of God - If we believe in God, we have to believe in His domain of justice. This world is governed by eternal and immutable laws. And whoever violates these laws is bound to suffer the consequences. Whatever we get is the fruit of our actions. Result or consequence of our actions is inevitable and unavoidable. But we expect so much. Many of us believe more in gambling rather than in right actions. So get worries, get frustrated and disappointed. We get treatment from a famous doctor, purchase the best medicines and use them but derive no relief. Sometimes then start disbelieving the doctor and likewise. Consequently we get stress and further damage our body and psyche. Many a times man proposes and God disposes. The consequences of our past deeds is called destiny and we know it also plays a significant role in day to day life. We have to cultivate a habit of never to curse God and his forces during the phases of our misfortune and extreme griefs.
4. Prayer, Meditation and Upasana – We profusely thank others even for small obligations but hardly remembers and thank God for his unmatchable gifts of life and inexhaustible means to sustain us. Try to be near God, thank him daily and always for His abundance, for all the happiness and pleasure he has given to us - a beautiful world, nice family and perfect human body – unique in all respects and only the golden opportunity when we can acquire knowledge and try final emancipation. Whom we love and respect, we imbibe his/her attributes, follow his examples and obey his instructions. Let us be fair, just and kind to all beings as the God Himself. We can not become true devotees unless we follow and internalize His qualities in our thoughts and actions.
5. Be spiritual: All human beings are alike. As Rousseau had said, ‘According to the order of nature, men being equal, their common vocation is the profession of humanity. It matters little to me whether my people is a soldier, a lawyer or a divine. Let him first be a man”.
“Treat others - the way we would like to be treated by others” is the core of spiritualism. It believes in the uncountable finite eternal souls and one Universal Soul who oversees the deeds of finite souls. A spiritual person links his or her individuality to collective consciousness.
6. View the world through the eyes of a child – Believe in the adage that Child is the father of man. Child only graduates to become an adult. A child lives in present—neither in past nor in the future. Frequent falls or failures do not make a child fearful or frustrated. He enjoys equally the efforts made and achievement fulfilled. Then why to get disenchantment and disappointment in life on small and trivial setbacks.
Children are thrilled when they are taken out of home. They keenly observe and experience the uniqueness, the wonder and beauty in every thing. They are eager and curious to know more and enjoy the sight and melodious sounds. Let us look at every tree, flower, sun, star, sea, cloud and human being as a child would and we will be in a regular state of wonder, joy, surprise, learning and enlightenment. Eternity speaks but no one listens - thus had lamented Yogi Aurobindo. Let us listen to the silent sound of mother nature, it will fill us up with ecstasy.
7. Develop and nurture a hobby :-
Depending on one’s nature, inclination, opportunities and facilities available one must develop and nurture a hobby distinct from his/her profession or occupation. It could be anything from reading books, writing one’s thoughts, any faculty of art, craft, or fine arts (music, singing, dance, drama, painting, sculpture, carpentry or pottery etc.), tourism or travel, some kind of social work. Hobby has to be absorbing the mind. It must give satisfaction or fulfillment. Hobby should satiate the unquenchable thirst of man. Taking recourse to drink and drugs has not helped anybody permanently to have mental satisfaction or peace.
8. Practice gratitude and appreciations: People and the Society around us have given us so much, we can’t repay it during our life time. Had there been no parents – we would not have come into being. Had there been no schools or teachers, farmers or doctors- what would have happened to our day to day existence? Pick up the gems even from the mud. : Looking into the faults, the lapses, the shortcomings or evils in others, criticizing them, without any valid reasons, create negative impulses, vibrations and energy in our mind and body leading to unconscious stress. Practice to see the qualities and positive attributes in others, we come across. Who would not like to pick up a shining diamond lying in a dirty mud? Seeing the weaknesses in others is indicative of a weak character. Let us not criticize or condemn any person or organization or a concept unless we are well versed in it
9. Internal and external personality should be close to each other. When they are alike - it indicates a state of light, love, consciousness and pure peace. Let us try to be same on both fronts. If we want to be happy, let us make others happy. We want ourselves to be dishonest but expect others to be honest. We know that we are telling lies, still claiming to be truthful. Outwardly sometimes we show to be close and loving to someone but inside we are so jealous to him or her. Such split and dual personality and hypocritical behaviour leads to great stress in life. As far as possible let us be truthful in our thoughts and avoid any act which is to be done clandestinely or openly and may bring us shame, fear or tension.
10. Douse the fire of anger: The worldly fire burns anything which comes in its lap. The fire, the flames or the fumes of anger inside us would certainly scorch our inner self. It irreparably damages the neurons in brain leading to steady decline in our memory and analytical capacity.
Getting angry unnecessarily on trivial things creates heavy stress in mind. “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make them angry” is a Greek saying.
11. Physically also one has to be healthy: An unhealthy and sickly person is prone to get more stress and tension.
Eat simple and natural food, do take daily exercise and have proper sleep. Practice Yoga Asanas and Pranayaam - the best bodily and mental exercise.
12. Control of Mind - It is the most important requirement for de-stressing the mind and control the environment.
Mind (Mana) should be cleansed first. If we want to give a new coat / painting to a wall we first wash it out, remove the old colour / paint, put primer or white, then only new paint is applied.
The field we want to cultivate and raise crop is to be first ploughed, dug and made fertile then only sowing could be done.
When Swami Dayanand approached Swami Vrijanandji for learning and discovering himself, the later had asked Dayanand “Go to the Yamuna river and throw all your books you are carrying. Also forget everything you have learnt so far. Then only I will start teaching you. Then only the Aarsha knowledge (the knowledge of seers, the visionaries) will be absorbed in your mind and give the spark of life.”
So the first requirement is to cleanse the mind from all the impurities, hates, intrigues, evils, vices etc. One has to practice truth in thoughts, speech and deeds, Mana satyen shudhyate Mind is purified by truthfulness.
And if we practice satya --the truthfulness, speak truth in our day to day conduct and behavior with others, we don’t need to remember what did we speak yesterday or day before. We have to manage our mind if we indulge in falsehood and hypocrisy. .
Now control of mind. According to scriptures and the ground breaking revelation of our visionary forefathers, our body is just like a chariot, the sense motor/action organs are its horses, the mind is the chains controlling the horses. The intellect is the driver (charioteer-saarathi) having mind (chains) in his hands. The soul is the real charioteer.
Life, in fact, is the combination of 4 entities – body, mind, intellect and soul. Kahtopanishad says very correctly “ Atmanam rathinam vidhi shariram rathmevacha, budhi tu sarathi vidhhi man pragramevcha .
If we want to control the mind, (the reins of horses), it can be done only by the driver (sarathi) - the intellect.
Therefore, to cleanse and control the mind we have to take recourse to intellect (Buddhi). And intellect would be capable to control and cleanse the mind only if intellect itself is clean and clear. That’s why the seers declared “Buddhi gyanen shudhayati” the intellect is purified through knowledge only. This learning is not provided by our modern schools and colleges . It requires right knowledge, scientific temper and miles away from superstitious beliefs and rituals.
And then comes the techniques of controlling mind as contemplated ,/documented and given to world by the great seer Patanjali – the techniques/ the eight-fold path of Yoga are known as the Yama- Niyamas Asanas, pranayaams, pratyaharr ,(withdrawal of senses from its subjects), dharana (contemplation), dhayan (concentration) and Samaadhi ( state of super consciousness) . However, the most significant is the practice of Pranayaam. It is said that by controlling the praana (breath) , we can control the mind. The praana is the link between animate and inanimate world.
The task is arduous and much challenging. It takes years of regular practice with a sense of dispassion,. It is a learning we may equate with post-doctorate classes and research. Not everyone is eligible to graduate to this high standards.
13. Live each day as though it were our last. Then we will be living in a state of light, love and unconditional contribution. What would we say to the people we care about. The story of saint Eknath is quite revealing and enlightening.
During the stay in a village, the saint Eknath used to traverse the same path everyday while gong out of the village. Everyday a man would ask him, “Guruji, tell me something special so that I could be at peace.” The saint was ignoring him for many days but one day he ultimately told the man, you would be going to die on the 8th day from today, A true saint‘s statement is a gospel truth. The man believed it would happen. All of a sudden he changed completely from an angry, abusive, unloving husband and father to a more sober, sweet, serene and loving husband and father. Next day when he was going to the market to buy vegetables for family, he paid salutations to his neighbours and asked them if he could bring something for them from the market. The neighbours were astonished at his changed nature. All seven days passed like this. The call and fear of death irreversibly transformed a devil into angel. On eighth day saint Eknath, knocked his door and asked his wife how had he spent the last seven days. The wife said, she saw a miracle happening, and narrated the unbelievable transformation in her husband’s behavior. The man died as destined.
Can anyone of us say when, where and how the death will ring its bell? The death is the greatest certainty but is uncertain and so unpredictable. It defies the greatest minds.
If we remember that the time of death can come any day, any time and anywhere, then we would not, no longer, indulge in intrigues and evils. The fountain of love will sprout from within. Where there is love, there is peace and stress will vanish for ever.