Shed that Stress

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Ninety-nine per cent of our stress is self-created. That’s because nobody taught us this truth: Life begins when you do. Life becomes stress-free when you do. Sure, troubles, ill-will, smallness, harshness can come a-knocking, but nobody told us the lock is on our side of the door.

Awaken to authenticity. So, let’s awaken to our true, authentic power. It can be done by a simple and profoundly beautiful process: Imagine a loving, non-judgmental person like Mother Teresa is sitting with you, holding your hand. Feel her touch, her complete interest and deeply compassionate attention in what you have to say. Let her loving presence flow around you. You will find your inner pressures abating and something sweet and rich arising… Imagine that the Mother is seeing you through her eyes as a pure being, shining, uncontaminated, whole. And you’ll see yourself as lovable, somebody who can be forgiven. Gratitude and joy will fill you as all the masks and artificialities of daily interactions drop. For the first time, you will see yourself as you are — authentic, beautiful, radiant.

Whatever you do, do it from a sweet sense of generosity, ungrudgingly, as an activity that you have chosen to do.

It’s an awe-inspiring experience that everybody needs, nay deserves, to go through every day. After all, how often do we see ourselves through eyes of joyous, ever-flowing love? In this state, there is no stress in the one who is seeing and the one being seen. No stress. Just a deep restfulness. Accepting and being accepted is a beautiful formula for well-being.

No-stress thinking. Observe yourself and you will notice how stressed out you are most of the time:

*        There’s a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction, of wanting to accomplish more.

Alternative: Replace this with feeling constructive, of having a purpose, of having done your best.

*        There’s a tendency to focus on one’s failures.

Alternative: Getting caught up in what I should not have done or could have done is as futile as chasing a shadow. Look, instead, at being on the right mental track and exploring the promise and possibilities of the present. Besides, failure makes one more understanding, empathetic, balanced. A new equilibrium sans pressures sets in. You know that you’re not as great as everybody tells you when you win and you know that you’re never as low as you think you are when you lose. Another little window of awakening opens out here…

*        You divide your mind and create needless conflicts. For example, you say about a duty, “This is tedious. I don’t want to do it, but am doing it.” Or something as inane as this thought comes to you, “I really want to sit and talk with you over a cup of tea, but I can’t. No time.” See how you have torn your mind in two between ‘want to’ and ‘can’t’. As this thought-pattern continues in your job, family, relationships, you head towards guilt, regret, uneasiness, depression, pain, suffering…

Alternative: Check yourself. Make no more misery for yourself. As the great Master Lao Tzu said, “Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Whatever you do, do it from a sweet sense of generosity, ungrudgingly. Do it as an activity that you have chosen to do. Do it unconditionally, without an iota of resentment. Place it in its bigger perspective: Doing one’s duty paves the road of life, but it is the generosity with which they are done that lights up and brightens the way. And you’ll find that without those mental conflicts, you are at peace, at rest.

*        We shatter our inner tranquility when we allow small things to get to us in a big way. Believe me, one little frowning thought, one stormy feeling and the world loses its charm, its friendliness. It’s because our inner sun has set.
Alternative: Walk in the sun — literally. We don’t have to consult a doctor or run to the chemist for medicine. The great benevolent sun delivers it to us unceasingly in India, the Land of the Eternal Sun. Walk under its warm golden radiance. Make it a healing, rejuvenating walk. Start by feeling its life-giving heated rays penetrate your skin. Focus on its warmth and affirm, “Through the power of the light that streams through me, may all my negative thoughts, destructive emotions, stubborn rigidity and blocks be purified and removed. May I know I’m forgiven for all the harm I may have thought and done. May I be positive and peaceful and live a good and serene life. And through my living may I benefit all other beings.”

Now feel the sun’s rays streaming love and compassion to your very core — heart, solar plexus. Feel these rays cleansing all negativities which have caused you so much stress. Feel you are immersed in its purifying light. Now, imagine that your body itself is light.

Though you need to use your imagination for this practice, there is nothing imaginary about it. A recent study concludes: when you soak up enough sun, your emotional stability holds through stressful situations. “The amount of time between sunrise and sunset is the weather variable that matters most for our emotional and mental health,” says researcher Mark Beecher.

When you soak up enough sun, your emotional stability holds through stressful situations.

The food factor. Many of us eat indiscriminately. While it’s wonderful to try out new foods, a new field, nutrigenomics, suggests that nutrients from ‘new’ foods can alter the way our genes express themselves, leading to obesity, diabetes, etc. Statistics compiled by the University of San Francisco show that South Asians who’ve switched to a western diet have high rates of heart attacks and strokes. Even switching from rice to wheat may trigger inflammation genes.
Alternative: Eat anti-inflammatory foods — natural produce which does not cause pain, bloating, acidity, skin-eruptions, tongue-serration. Exercise daily. It enhances digestion, mood and strengthens the heart and lungs. Tension eases into tranquility. Tranquility translates into wellness.

Finally, a takeaway from a Wise One: “I was a neurotic for years. ­Anxious, depressed, stressed out, selfish. Everyone kept advising me, ‘Change yourself.’ I resented them. I wanted to change but just couldn’t. I felt humiliated, trapped, powerless. One day, my friend said softly, ‘Don’t change. I love you as you are. I am thankful you are my friend.’ I relaxed, I changed! When you meet the smiling trinity — acceptance, love and gratitude — your inner seething sea calms into a serene blissful ocean…” Let’s un-create what we’ve created, and change from the stressed to the blessed.

The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life’ and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.

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