ezHinduism series: Stress-free Living – The Hindu way
The topic for May ezHinduism session stemmed from recent news articles on rising stress levels in Singapore. According to a survey conducted by Cigna in March 2019, sleep-deprived Singaporean workers are among the most stressed globally. From school students to senior citizens aged over 55, stress has taken a heavy toll. Moreover, stress has been linked to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, depression, and a weakened immune system. The intent of the session was to share the Hindu wisdom that helps in leading a stress-free life.
While stress evokes a variety of responses – physiological, cognitive or behavioral, it has been related to the human body’s “fight-or-flight” response. What was once an involuntary ancestral response of the nervous system to fear or threat, like sighting a tiger, has become a continuous everyday phenomenon in today’s world and puts our body in a constant stress state.
During the session, stress was explained using the formula : stress = pressure / resilience. We always attribute stress to the numerator, the external pressure. However, Hinduism gives us tools to take control of the denominator, the resilience or the strength of our mind to face any pressure. The session highlighted the need to grow our resilience by taking responsibility of our inner strength.
Hinduism guides us to build resilience by adopting an attitude of offering all actions to God (Arpana Buddhi); attitude of graceful acceptance of any result from God (Prasada Buddhi); maintaining the equanimity of mind; and performing spiritual practices (Sadhana). Verses were quoted from the Holy Bhagavad Gita that explain the Karma Yoga mindset – to do every action as an offering to Īśvara, without anxiety about the result, without a sense of ownership, and without complaining. Real-life examples were cited to anchor these concepts. By strengthening the mind, one does not get easily agitated and learns to realign oneself, thereby eliminating stress.
As for Sadhana (spiritual practices), the session touched on techniques such as chanting (japa), puja, yoga asana, pranayama, meditation and self-reflection. The audience shared some of their first-hand experiences on how they had overcome stress by using these techniques – like doing pranayama right before a critical negotiation meeting. Scientific evidence on the efficacy of these techniques was also presented from scholarly studies and science papers.
Stress is a relatable phenomenon to almost everyone in Singapore. Although the rising levels of stress is indeed a cause of concern, it was assuring to know that we are equipped with the tools that Hinduism has provided us. While the stress-relieving techniques like traveling or reading a book or getting a massage might still be enjoyed, much like swallowing a painkiller for stress-ache, the session made it clear that Hinduism has provided the ultimate vaccination against stress.
Thank you Soundharya for the wonderful sharing!