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With regards to stress, a quick flick through some Sanskrit verses of the Bhagavad-gita immediately reveal three common reasons why our consciousness diverges into this uncomfortable emotional state:
Regulation – Gita insights (Chapter 6, Verse 17) reveal that regulated habits of eating, sleeping, work and recreation counteract all physical and mental pain. An imbalanced lifestyle blinds us from knowing our limits, drawing us into dangerous territory that we can’t navigate. Pushing beyond one’s comfort zone and venturing into the unknown is admirable, but too much irregularity will begin ‘bending’ and eventually end-up ‘breaking’ you. Be dynamic and daring, but maintain your balance and strength through regulation.
Expectation – Gita insights (Chapter 2, Verse 47) remind us to perform our duty, but simultaneously remain detached from the results. All said and done, we are not the controller. When we formulate ambitious hopes on what we’ll achieve and how we’ll be seen, we carry a burden of expectation that is unsustainable. It’s commendable to have plans and aspirations and it’s healthy to strive hard for them, but once we’ve tried our best, we must step back, disconnect and remain detached. When ‘plans’ turn into ‘expectations’ we set ourselves up for misery.
Competition – Gita insights (Chapter 3, Verse 35) guide us to perform our own dharma (inner calling) instead of someone else’s. Being ourselves is more productive, joyful and sustainable. Unfortunately, we tend to measure our worth by comparing ourselves with others. We forget that we’re on our own path, with our own obstacle course and our own unique calling. Comparison clouds our original thinking and blocks our distinctive contribution. As Albert Einstein said: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Overcoming stress, then, is quite simple: maintain your regulation, alter your expectation and drop the competition. Sometimes it pays to look back, in order to look forward.
Excerpt from “Tattva2: Old Words Open New Worlds”, available on: books.keshavaswami.com/tattva2
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