Overcoming Stress

overcoming-stress-ananda-yogananda-teachingsIf you have stress in your life, meditation can be an immense help to you. Stress training is common today; everyone from fortune 500 companies to the military recognizes how important it is to give people tools to deal with this potential killer. But, most stress training simply helps people relax.

As important as this is, it is not enough because it works only with the conscious or subconscious mind. Meditation, however, enlists the superconsciousness, the infinite awareness at the core of our being. It is from this deep level that lasting changes come.

Unhealthy levels of stress usually come from trying to control the uncontrollable. The “fight or flight” response biologically programs us to respond to challenge with some level of stress.

Not all stress is unhealthy, and in fact, some degree of pressure is vital to our well-being. Without it we become bored and look for stimulation. We watch TV and movies, or play games, sports and engage in activities that have no purpose other to excite the mind. In real life, however, we don’t have the same level of detachment as we do while being entertained.

This is where meditation can be a big help; not only does it help you to relax, but the more you meditate the easier it will be to stay cheerful and detached from all the challenging circumstances of your life. You will begin to realize that happiness comes from inside you, not from making every aspect of your life perfect. And because of this relaxation and cheerful detachment, you will be able to more easily make the correct decision that will make the stressful circumstance go away.

You can also make some practical changes to allow you to better deal with stress. On the physical level, make sure your diet is filled with fresh and vital foods. Poor diet, leads to poor health. Get regular exercise, but try to do it more for enjoyment.

Find activities that expand your horizons — get out in nature or go to events that uplift your mind. Get sufficient sleep and rest, and try deep breathing during times of pressure. I’ll teach you some techniques for this at the end of the article.

Environment is also vitally important. Look at your home environment to see if it helps you have a positive state of mind. Move your TV out of the center of your life to a place where it doesn’t intrude. Be careful of the music that you listen to. Music has an incredibly powerful effect on our consciousness. Think about where you are happy and relaxed.

Are there plants, the sound of moving water, or beautiful colors? Try to make your home environment to reflect that kind of energy. And try to spend more time with those friends who are positive and self-contained, those who can help magnetize you into a state of being even-minded and calm.

Most important of all is that you get more in touch with your spiritual nature. Tune into your deeper essence, the joy and peace that lie within you as you claim your own higher reality, and you will begin to see that reflected back from everyone around you. Daily meditation is the way to find these deeper states.

Especially important is a practice of meditating every morning and evening. In the morning it prepares you to face the day from a state of inner calmness and joy. At night is helps you to release everything and offer all your attachments back into the divine light.

3 Ways to Combat Stress

Visualization for Overcoming Stress

The following visualization will help you to accept life with calmness and enjoyment. Visualize yourself floating near the shore in a beautiful blue sea. The sea is calm, the sun is shining, and the wind is blowing gently over the water.

Gradually, the waves begin to increase in strength.… Now, they are tossing you about. At first you find this annoying and wish they would stop. But now you realize that you can’t control the sea.

As you relax, you begin to accept the waves and enjoy the ride they are giving you. You see that they are playing with you.

Stay in this state of enjoyment for a while.… Now feel that your vision is floating up above the level of the sea and looking down on your little body. As you look down from this height, you see that the waves aren’t really big at all.

From this higher viewpoint, the sea actually looks quite calm. And it is beautiful, blues and greens, and little whitecaps. All is incredibly beautiful. You see that the ocean of life is your friend and your supporter.

You gaze out toward the horizon endless miles away. The line where the sea meets the sky never changes. Concentrate on this line and try to feel that underneath the waves of events you never change.

You are always peaceful, always calm, always joyful. Release all attachments, all desires, all regrets. Float now in this vast ocean of bliss. When you are ready, let your mind come back to a point of concentration at the spiritual eye, between the eyebrows.

Now, once again return to body consciousness. We will end our meditation with an affirmation. Concentrate deeply on the words and the meaning behind the words. Send this message to your subconscious mind. We’ll repeat it several times:

I am grateful for my life exactly as it is.
I am thankful for this day,
I welcome every hour.
Thank you.
Thank you.

You can repeat this affirmation as often as you would like. It is especially effective just after waking up in the morning, or just before sleep at night.

Yogananda’s Healing Drink for the Nerves

The following is a healthy drink for relaxation:

  1. Take one glassful of cool water
  2. Add to it 1/4 of a fresh lime and about 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar or ground rock candy.
  3. Mix it in such a way that the sugar and the lime are evenly balanced, so that when you taste the lime you will also taste the sweetness, and when you taste the sugar you will also taste the lime.

This is one of the great drinks of the yogis. It has cured thousands of persons of nervousness. It also has a spiritual vibration. It must not be too sweet nor have too much lime. Always add to it a little crushed ice.