We are living in a ‘VUCA’ world – ‘Volatile’, ‘Unpredictable’, ‘Complex’, ‘Ambiguous’. One of the key factors that contribute to stress and anxiety these days is FOMO – The Fear of Missing Out. This has become deep rooted in us and our consciousness remains clouded. When we are gripped with such a fear, our mental state is bound to be affected. So how do we deal with our insecurities, fears, stress, and anxiety?
If we are in a situation that is creating stress and anxiety, the first step is to accept it. If we fight it, it is not going to disappear. This acceptance comes through understanding and reflection. This introspection is very important in order to gain clarity and remove the clouds shrouding our consciousness. However, I would not say that we should totally remove our stress levels. Stress levels also contribute to something constructive. Suppose you are a student and let us say you have zero stress for your exams. Would your preparation be adequate in that case? Our aim is to regulate our mental tendencies and ensure a balanced state of mind.
Another recommendation I would give is - ‘Be in the present.’ Many of us try to fast-forward to our future and worry about it by projecting an imagined situation in the present. We have the tendency to think, ‘Oh, I want to do this. What would I do if that happened?’ and so many other things at the same time. Such thoughts deplete our mental energy. Our thoughts and emotions consume energy, and we cannot deplete our energy reserves on non-productive ruminations. Let us take the classic example of mobile phone apps. The more the number of apps that are open, the faster the phone discharges. Similarly, our mind also runs in multiple directions - ‘my girlfriend/boyfriend, my project, my boss, my wife/husband, my in-laws, my degree, my gym and vegan diet’, and the list goes on leaving us depleted of. There are too many things churning in our minds depleting our energies. Focus on one challenge at a time. If at all there is another challenge which needs to be handled simultaneously, it is worth considering from the foundation of stillness, incorporating it with the backbone of stillness. When we make it a habit to carry stillness, poise, and silence within, we naturally are open to accepting life situations cheerfully. Even a simple meal can become enjoyable the moment we are in this state of joy within. How do we arrive at such a state?
Meditation helps us find stillness and poise within. Its effect can also be compared to that of vaccination. It prevents diseases. What kind of diseases? The present-day problems of loneliness, anxiety, depression, frustration etc. These challenges were present in the past also. However, they were easy to handle in those days. Nowadays, the problem is more pronounced and very much needs all the attention and sincerity it deserves to be resolved.
Meditation helps us master our mind. It dissolves any kind of stress. Stress is the single most effective cause for the release of the cortisol hormone into our bloodstream. An increase in cortisol increases all the inflammatory processes. This makes us vulnerable to various diseases. It also leads to anxiety; anxiety leads to loneliness, loneliness to depression and the vicious cycle ensues.
When we are joyful and cheerful, our blood flow and immunity also improve. It is scientifically proven that meditation reduces our stress level, decreases cortisol, and increases many beneficial neurotransmitters. However, like vaccination, meditation and yogic practices are most effective as long as prevention is concerned. So we need to nip the problem in the bud, and meditation helps us do just that.
Meditation also enables us to open up to ourselves. Having looked at ourselves dispassionately, we can say, ‘this is wrong with me, let me adjust this wrinkle’ or ‘let me correct my attitude’ or ‘let me be more open and understanding’. It gives us a chance to act on ourselves and improve our perception – inner as well as outer. When we embark on this journey of continuous and constant improvement with an idea of acceptance of the current state, the path is joyous. It leads us to becoming a better and better version of ourselves. So, not only are we combating stress, anxiety, panic, and finding solutions to stay balanced and calm, we are also on this beautiful odyssey where we strive for being the best we can be, by deepening our tryst with this inner stillness.