Stress not only affects our body and corrupts its natural functioning; it also affects our mind and spirit as well. Everyday, each of us goes through stress a number of times—mild or severe. We follow our own ways to fight or flee them. But, human endeavor to find the most effective deterrent against stress is still going on. It is so, because stress still remains the major affliction of modern life. Since its complete eradication is neither possible nor desirable, we can equip ourselves to manage stress positively.
Through trial and error modern man has found a unique stress buster—knocking at the door of soul. When all outward sources of solace dry up it is but natural to look within, and to know, to understand the nature of the `self` and its requirements. This kind of mental orientation helps realize one`s inner potential and achieve personal growth. Spirituality, or knowing one`s `self`; the real purpose of life, and one`s relationship with the concept of God, is rapidly catching the imaginations of modern men.
Satish Nanda, MD, Heritage Handlooms, India, a follower of Osho explains, ‘The mind is a great tourist. It strays. A spiritual Guru gives birth to your inner self. We rediscover our being. In the vicinity of a guru one feels `unburdened`.’
It encourages you to reflect on your experiences and may convince you about the insignificance of these from the point of permanency. You may learn to accept the fact that even this will pass away and hence, there is nothing to be worried about. Pursuance of spirituality encourages one to empty all negative thoughts and distractions from one`s mind and helps one cultivate a passive attitude towards nagging life situations.
Dr. Benson, who pioneered the work on Relaxation Response, suggests that a passive attitude is the most essential factor in eliciting the Relaxation Response.
Says Mr Nanda: ‘Spirituality doesn`t fall off when you are at work or business. Rather, it enhances your total outlook. One is positive, cheerful, absolutely spontaneous, flowing….like the stream of a river.’
Our mental strength and attitudes are the deciding factors in identifying a stressor and the nature of our response to it. As you come to realize more about your `being` you develop tolerance towards others. Being able to understand your inherent needs as well as of others helps improve inter-personal relationships. It may improve your relationship with your whole environs.
•For example, a hyper-reactive husband can lend an ear to his spouse`s complains and can show patience to judge the merit of it.
•Various practices associated with the path of spirituality—meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercises (yogakriyas/yoga practices), and practice of positive thinking make one physically and mentally better equipped to manage stress. It also maintains equanimity of mind. Ravi Bhoothalingam, president, The Oberoi Group, India and a regular participant of Sri Sri Ravishankar`s Art of Living workshops, says, ‘It has been three years since I`m practicing meditation. Meditation brings down stress levels, improves balance and provides calmness to the mind.’
Thinking about God and not necessarily following elaborate rituals to worship Him can be the answer to tackle stress and its effects. Even rituals associated with the path of spirituality have often proved to be effective stress reducers.
For example, the use of aromatic substances (incense, flowers, sandal-paste et al), spending some time in an undisturbed, orderly and quiet atmosphere may soothe the nerves, make the body calm and composed, and uplift the spirit. Simply meditating in private provides relaxation and gives one peace of mind.
A recent study by the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR) titled Religious Involvement Linked to Good Health reveals that, ‘Canadian college students involved with campus ministries paid fewer visits to medical clinics, scored higher in psychological well-being, and experienced less stress during difficult times.’ Those affiliated students also showed higher positive feelings and considerably lower levels of depression. They are also better at handling stress.
Spirituality facilitates intra-personal relationships in practitioners. You come to know and assess yourself more, and try to grow as a person. Thereby you become more adept and more skillful in facing life`s various situations.
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