Is Life as a Student and Yogi Compatible? (Managing Stress)


Is the life of a student and yogi compatible? Is simultaneous development of modern rational intellect and spirit possible? Student life requires going through break-neck competition and much pressure but a yogi has to be equanimous and balanced. A yogi has to be moderate and balanced with his diet and sleep - while students have to constantly make changes in their daily routines to meet deadlines for assignment submission. They have to sit without breaking for 4-5 hours and attend lectures, etc.

—Ashutosh, India


Dear Ashutosh,

Ironic though it might seem, nothing could be more practical and useful to a busy person (yes, even a student under pressure; indeed especially a student or anyone under pressure), than to remain calm and unflustered.

The time spent in yoga and meditation practices will pay a “dividend” in calmness, clarity, intuition, and performance under pressure more than any other single activity! The time spent in meditation will be more than made up in immediate knowing and insights that take other students 3x as long to ponder and understand – what to mention respond correctly!

Even the extra minutes to assemble a healthy meal of fresh fruit and vegetables (or freshly cooked vegetables and rice) will also pay dividends of stamina and alertness (compared to “junk” snack foods).

Indeed, the energy it takes to “self-care” (as we Americans put it) both requires and at the same time, induces a feeling of calm, self-confidence! Those who are nervous and anxious can never perform on tests or other deadlines as well as one who is rested, calm, and “Self-possessed!” Who is the Doer, Krishna asks us in the Gita? God alone is Doer of all actions. Or as a popular comic book character from my boyhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s (Alfred E. Neumann) put it, “What? Me worry?”

When Yogananda fretted over his exams in college in Serampore (near Kolkata), his guru assured him that it was more likely that the sun and moon would change places in the heavens than he, Yogananda, would not pass his exams. Now, admittedly, Yogananda had his guru’s blessings but my point is that the hand of destiny, fate and karma is such that, combined with proper use of our concentration, will and intelligence, is infallible. Your job is to do your best and “leave the rest” to God (and karma).

Be calm. Be joyful. Be confident in the Supreme Beatitude and divine blessings. Make meditation your first priority. Put God first in your life. Put your life in the Divine Hands, and you cannot fail. As Jesus put so famously, practically, and powerfully: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things (that you need) will be added unto you!”

Non-attachment to the results of one’s best efforts is the key to success in finding God and in passing exams. And it is the core teaching of Krishna in the Gita. It’s simple, if not easy. But you can do it. Rejoice and be free in God!

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA