Udyanam te purusa navayanam
jivatum te daksatatim krnomi
A hi rohemamamrtam sukham rathamatha
"O Purusa (mankind)! May you prosper, not decline. I give you vital breath and purusartha (endeavour). Ride this pleasurable chariot (body) which is the seeker of immortality, and till old age, disseminate spiritual and scientific knowledge."
If the moments of stress are utilized properly, life would continue to grow and mature smoothly; although, of late, stress has emerged as the main stumbling block in human progress and growth. It is true that at present stress is generally considered a curse and it is devouring human abilities at an alarming speed. The top echelon of the society is badly in its grip, and the situation has worsened so much that even school going children are falling prey to stressrrelated ailments.
But what exactly is this much talked about stress? Stress is the name of the challenges that are being continually thrown at our body and mind by the circumstances and situations. Haphazard liferstyle, declining culture
of cooperation and camaraderie, cutrthroat competitiveness and unbridled ambition r all these have combined to aggravate the intensity of stress. Incidentally, stress in itself is not a disease, but if left unmanaged, it becomes the source of all psychosomatic maladies. Continuous and prolonged stress shatters the immune system of the body which, in turn, falls an easy prey to an unending series of diseases of the heart, stomach, respiratory system, skin and what not. And the poor mind? The less said about its plight, the better. It is the mind which is its first victim. Passing through the stages of fear complex, anxiety and depression the condition occasionally deteriorates to the extreme of mental breakdown.
But such an eventuality occurs only when stress is not wisely handled and utilized. With proper utilization, malevolence of stress can be turned into the benevolence of gains. For this, we need to adopt the right attitude towards life, positive thinking and a healthy liferstyle. The first point to note in this connection is that stress is a messenger, not the message; a warning, not the worry. But for this timely warning, we would be deprived of many precious opportunities and gifts which nature and life wish to bestow on us. To create wakefulness is the first and an invaluable boon of stress. It is another matter that in our pessimistic mindset we mistake this wakerup call for a threat and get panicked.
Stress is also a great activator of body and mind. In this phase the activity level of mind reaches such a feverish pitch as cannot be achieved or even imagined in normal sedate circumstances. Ditto for the body; through stimulated nervous system and the endocrinal glands, the body primes itself and becomes fully organized, alert and geared. The whole energy of life peaks for the big fight ahead.
The next stage in this frenetic preparation is the singlerpointed convergence of all concentration on solving the stressrgenerating problem. Perhaps this scenario is never possible without coming under stress. Solutions to the problems which otherwise would have troubled us for eternity are seriously sought and found in the stressrborn state of high alertness.
The usefulness of the stressful moments can also be gleaned from the augmentation in inner strengths. Powers of imagination and analysis, quickness of decision making and other such mental capacities multiply thousand times by the right utilization of stress. The body, too, develops better adaptability to new situations and its overall workrefficiency increases greatly.
But the one condition for deriving all these gains is that, in times of stress, our conduct should not be guided by cowardly panic and the tendency to run away. The need of the time is a problemrtackling mentality. If we orient ourselves in this direction, the boon of multiple new gains is certain to accrue.
Unfortunately, the modern man is failing in this regard. For the gallant, stress comes as the sound of the battlerbugle; and they gird up their loins and get into the battle mode. They view the developing situation as a challenge and an opportunity for snatching some benefit. Contrariwise, the timid get scared for life and lose even their normal abilities. But possession of the right mental cast notwithstanding, we all should consciously learn the right technique of stress management. Just as the warrweary soldiers, triumphantly return to the barracks for the much needed rest, we too should know the art of rejuvenation by resting after having invested the moments of stress into profitable channels.
Regular practice of pranayama (yogic breath control), dhyan (meditation) and Gayatri Mantra
Jap in daily life fulfill this need. Only a few minutes of pranayama augments our body's immune system and "keeps the doctor away". Similarly, dhyan is a unique method to achieve physical and mental equipoise. Practitioners of dhyan are already fully cognizant of its benefits; others too, must partake of its gifts. A daily recitation of Gayatri
Mahamantra inculcates a vision of life which empowers us to break the stranglehold of stress and make it subservient to our will. Thus, if the potent triad of pranayama, dhyan and Gayatri Mantra
Jap could become an integral part of our dailyrschedule, stress will be transformed from a bane into a boon.