We chase peace yet we continue to have stress in our lives. We do meditation, we avoid conflicts, we agree or comply with other or hide our true selves for fear of rejection, we justify that we need to be strong to be able to handle stress for a higher purpose. Most of the stress in our lives is not because of our circumstances or our problems but because we do not understand the nature of stress.
What is Stress?
Many years ago, when I met a close friend of mine after many years, and after long debates on different matters and being tired of logic and rationalization, I asked him “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right, Sunny”. Since then I have asked that question many times to myself and in my coaching sessions. I got varied responses including – ‘I want to be right because I am happy when I am right’. This chase to be right rather than just be ourselves and let others be themselves, is the root cause of stress.
Stress then is:
- a misalignment between our beliefs and universal principles
- the distance between “who we are” and “who we act or become to please others”
- not related to our circumstances or how much we are fighting against our circumstances but how much we are fighting the law of nature
- outcome of a very rigid belief system
Stress is a sign
Stress by itself is neither good nor bad. It is simply a sign that something needs to be changed. When we are in alignment, regardless of our circumstances we can be happy. When we lose our alignment and fight nature or laws of the universe we get stressed.
Stress can be a very valuable tool to continually maintain our alignment and keep growing. When we listen to the sign stress brings and realign it leads to growth. When we resist the sign and continue to move in the unaligned direction it continues to make us inwardly pessimistic though we may show the world a brave face and try to be strong. Misunderstood stress leads to slow, invisible and many times irreversible breakdown of spirit.
“We find comfort among those who agree with us — growth among those who don’t.” Frank A. Clark
How to listen to stress
Your body is a beautiful tool for your soul’s progress. Without the body, you would not be able to feel anything. Vipassana meditation teaches us how to concentrate on the body and its sensations to increase our awareness.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.
Unfortunately, many people I saw have misinterpreted and misused Vipassana as either a way to “Control mind that is thought to be bad” or “As a constant escape from facing reality”. Meditation is not about criticizing self or sacrificing self or silencing self. It is about having a calm mind that can listen to the universe’s signs (the truth) even in midst of all the conflicting opinions, dogma and expectations around us. Listen to your stress, respect your true joy and learn to change your rigid belief system.
Stress is good if you listen to its signs, if you fight it by continuing to fight its message, you will break your spirit and a man without spirit can bring about no good for self or others – however noble their intentions are.
Don’t make stress make you build walls around you, let it be a sign to change. Listen to your bliss and joy and create good life for self and all.
The discomfort of change is always better than the heartbreak of complacency (Robin Sharma).
I leave you with another quote by Buddha:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha