Thursday, April 08, 2010

What is Stress?


Recently during a meeting with some friends, they told me about how much stress they were going through because of economy, business, family and all sorts of things. For curiosity, I checked the online dictionary what is the modern scholars' explanation of stress and it is said that, "Stress is the consequence of the failure to adapt to change." Surprisingly, I think to a certain extent, they are quite right.
Stress is a result of inflexibility and non-acceptance. In other words, it is caused by strong attachment and expectations. When there is hope or expectation, there is fear that this expectation will not come true, that is to say whatever you expect may not happen as you wish. So stress comes.

Thinking of this stresses me out too. One of my friends was almost crying because despite he was very successful in his business, he was having stress trying to keep up with the success, even though he has made a lot of money in the past 10 years, he is now under a lot of stress because he now has to work very hard to keep the level of the wealth. I guess when he first started with his business, he must have thought, "Well, if I make that many millions, I will be so happy and so contented."

Then when he has made that many millions, he thought of making billions. He started off with giving himself a lot of stress by setting a target to achieve, when he reached this target, he gave himself another excuse to be stressed out by setting a higher target. So there is no peace in his mind and there is no stress-free moment that he could relax. Now, he has even come to me crying because he was under tremendous stress trying to maintain making that much money.

This is the same with couples or relationships. I had an old friend who visited me recently and she looked extremely tired and unhappy. She told me that when she got married a few years ago, she thought that she had found the right man who had money, position and fame. She even said that he was a prayer answered. Now, they are thinking of separating because they can't stand each other.So this is the thing. Everyone expects money, good partner, good business to be their solution to happiness.
The truth is that if you are not grounded spiritually, and if you keep looking outside for a solution, you will never be out of stress. If you are grounded spiritually, you would understand and master the skills of living in the presence, this will at least keep you out of stress.

The only way you can help yourself is through spiritual guidance and through spiritual practice.I have checked myself a couple of times too. Since I am in human form, I also have propensities to experience stress. The other day, I was thinking about setting up schools for nuns, one in Ladakh and one in Nepal, and about the new schools for monks in Ladakh and Sikkim. I was thinking, worrying and calculating. I did absolutely nothing the entire day, just thinking, worrying, calculating the budget and getting myself stressed. At the end of the day, I checked what had I done the entire day. I did nothing, besides experiencing worries and stress. So, nothing was achieved and one whole day was wasted.

Being stressed is a waste of time and it is really a killer. Instead of wasting your time stressing yourself out, you might as well relax and practise Guru Yoga and meditation whenever you feel stressed or stuck in a position where you cannot find an immediate solution. If you have a great sense of understanding of spirituality and if you have a trained mind through spiritual practice etc., even if the world collapses, even if the stock market collapses, even if your business fails, you will be okay.
You can still be fearless and have the courage to live a fruitful and beneficial life and if you choose to start your business again, you will not be discouraged, instead you will be more encouraged and more confident, because you would understand the meaning of impermanence, the meaning of precious human life, the meaning of karma, the meaning of suffering and the meaning of non-attachment. You can be stress-free and you can be genuinely happy because this happiness comes from your inner support and not depending on external circumstances.

It is very important that this routine of spiritual practice is not broken. Spirituality is truly the backbone of your life and your happiness. Without spirituality, I can tell you that you will definitely be overwhelmed by stress and all kinds of ups and downs. Spirituality through daily formal practice will keep you grounded and it is the best solution to your stressful situation.
(As told by a Buddhist Spiritual Master)

Article contributed by Marc Wong