A discerning mind holds the key to bridging the gap between thought and action. Stress saps the quality of discernment. Stress like suffering affects the afflicted unsparingly, mentally, physically, emotionally and psychologically, Yoga is a conscious process, helping us to raise our level of mental and emotional serenity without which harmony in thought and action is unobtainable.
In the modern competitive world of industry, trade, finance, banking, management and information where breathtaking changes are taking place, tension stalks every individual worth his adrenalin. Business and executive life has become a never-ending race against time, technology and targets. This rat race creates tension which leads to dissatisfaction and frustration. Eventually it manifests itself as psychological and physiological stress with mental and emotional drain. Every passing day intensifies the stress leading to 'Excessive Tension' and consequently deterioration in 'Executive Efficiency' and a steep rise in the incidence of psychosomatic ailments.
Management Development Programs, with their accent on result orientation, act almost as baits for the unsuspecting executives. While they impart knowledge on the techniques to improve executive skills and efficiency, they have no concrete answer to overcome the problem of 'Executive Tension'.
My own experiment suggests that the ancient Indian science of Yoga holds the key to combat this modern menace of stress. Contrary to general beliefs, Yoga is neither merely a mystical phenomenon nor an exercise in physical acrobatics. Yoga is simply a conscious and systematic process for the complete physical, mental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual development of a human being. In short, it is a methodical approach to self-perfection. In practice it is a technique for calming down the mind to its .subtle and more sensitive layers by releasing stress and sharpening the faculties of action and understanding.
The three cardinal principles of Yoga are:
(i) Relaxation of all the groups of muscles;
(ii) Slowing down of the breath; and
(iii) Calming of the mind.
Four main streams of Yoga techniques can be identified. They utilise the four major faculties in man - Intellect, Emotion, Will-power and their executive capacities in action through the sensory and motor apparatus. They are called In-a-na Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Ra+ja Yoga and Karma Yoga.
Presented in this small book written by two eminent scholars on the subject, is the concept of stress as understood in the modern world by science and as postulated in various texts on Yoga. Some modern methods of stress management and their limitations and the management of stress by Yoga are delineated in this book. Various facets of the program entitled 'Self-Management of Excessive Tension' have been presented in this volume. The concluding chapter presents the evaluation of the program indicating its effectiveness.
This book opens up new dimensions in Self-Management by managing stress through an understanding of the ancient Indian science -
Modern man is all set for a revolution after nearly four centuries of continuous growth. From the era of blind faith and superstitions he Ius progressed an era of rational thinking, experimentation, matter-based approach and its fascinating applications to comfort his living. The strides of this growth encompasses all facets of life including education (science and technology- oriented) and the very direction of growth of ,an individual (economy- based) and a country (measured with the yard- stick of GNP). Tremendous growth has been made in understanding the structure of this physical universe and the laws governing them.
The two major challenges of this era of science and technology viz., stress and pollution have become the true triggers for the new revolution. If pollution is working at the material front to direct man towards better ecological and appropriate technology, the challenge of stress is shaking the very foundations of the matter-based objective approach of science. As we glide through the decades of transition, our understanding is bound to encompass a greater spectrum of the universe - life, mind, psyche, ete.
India, known for its wisdom has given us the Upanisads, the quintessence of the VEDAS, and a saga of knowledge. From these books of knowledge - Vedas, Upanisads, Yoga texts - are emerging new rays of hope which are essential to face the new revolution.
Culled out from the wisdom of the Upanisads and Yoga lore are the principles and techniques portrayed in this booklet. The holistic concept of stress which is based on the total perspective of the human system consisting of not merely the material body but the unseen vital and etherial sheaths and the sheaths of wisdom and bliss as in an iceberg. Techniques to release stress manifesting as imbalances at all these levels blend harmoniously into the simple SMET (Self-Management of Excessive Tension) program which this booklet presents.
For those who have undergone the program, this booklet could deepen the understanding and subtleness of the program and help them to release their stress very effectively. Presented in a simple language, the book is by no means exhaustive. The new reader can also find this, introductory in nature and if it motivates him to undergo the course, the purpose of the booklet is served.
'we welcome comments, suggestions and constructive criticism to make the further editions of this booklet more impressive, comprehensive and useful.
The basic challenge of stress and yoga
Scientific and technological progress all over the globe has made man highly sensitive, critical and also creative. Sharp to the core, his intellect has gained tremendous power of analysis. The left side of his brain is highly developed, helping him to unravel the subtle mysteries of nature and understand dearly the general laws of nature. Technology has helped man reap the benefits of its use. Automation and computers have brought great speed and sophistication in all our interactions. In search of happpiness we are propelled by a desire to increase our living standards by acquiring more and more comfort-giving objects and experiencing sensual pleasures. To satisfy this desire we are always on the lookout to earn more and more. In the process, we have become very active and have overcome our lethargy.
Associated with this growth is the emergence of two basic challenges: pollution and stress. The challenge of pollution is being tackled effectively but not met totally. Strict pollution control measures in the industrial . sectors and extensive research leading towards the use of ecologically friendly technologies, have certainly yielded dividends. But on the second front, in spite of extensive research all over the globe, a decreasing quality of life, increasing health hazards, social unrest, student unrest, etc. traits which are all different expressions of stress, have shown no trend of decrease. On the contrary, over the last two decades, it is rather on the path of ascent.
The current mechanistic world-view, the matter-based approach the increased dependence on science and technology and the associated lifestyle have to undergo basic changes towards embracing a more holistic world- view and a healthier and more harmonious lifestyle. Emotion training and harnessing of the will-power - the growth of the right side of the brain in general - are then the associated adjuncts for such a holistic understanding and also for a healthier and harmonious living. And that is what Yoga offers.
Yoga, far from being a mere physical or breathing acrobatics or a demonstration of magic or supernatural powers, is a science of the future, with a holistic vision relevant to a progressive society. Yoga is a conscious process helping us to rise from our animal instincts to a level of normal discrimination and elevating us to manifest the immense potentialities dormant in us. Yoga not only works to bring fitness and vigour to the physical body, but also harnesses our will and emotions and expands our power of insight, vision and analysis. Such a science to harness the will, calm the mind and steady the emotions, without losing the sharpness of intellect is the key to human progress. The challenge of stress is thus the drive for such a progressive move from the matter-based approach to a mind-based approach; from the economic-based measure to a health- based measure of progress. Yoga is the right science for such a transformation which is in the offing.
Is it not a paradox that the age old science of YOGA which had its origin nearly four thousand years ago in India is becoming relevant in this high- tech era? Over the millenia, yoga has grown into a science of specialities and super-specialities. Techniques after techniques in yoga were evolved catering to the heterogeneity of men and women, castes, creeds, religions and sects, with no dogmas or rituals. These techniques retained an experimental approach and were based mainly upon the time- tested common experiences developed and tested in one's own inexpensive yet most sophisticated laboratory, the mind. Such techniques coupled with proper understanding help us to use our high sensitivity and sharpness without getting enslaved by them. Harnessing the will, these techniques calm the mind, stabilise the emotions, improve the quality of life and bring health and harmony in the society.
Four main streams of yoga techniques could be identified. They utilise the four major faculties in man - Intellect, Emotion, Will-power and the Executive Capacities through the sensory and motor apparatus. They are called Jaana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Karma Yoga.respectively, The path of wisdom - jnana Yoga uses the intellect. In this path of study the most basic questions regarding Reality, Goal of life, Happiness and Misery, Life beyond Death, ere are posed. Subtle analysis and quest replace superficial logic and understanding. A deep quest takes us to the very source of the intellect which the Upanishads claim to be as SILENCE, the source from where all solutions emerge. The intellectual analysis in this path is used to experience the innate source of knowledge, bliss, creativity and freedom which is nothing other than SILENCE. The origin of stress and tension, the mechanism of their growth and their various disastrous manifestations can be understood totally through this path of quest.
The techniques in Bhakti Yoga, the science of emotions' culture, are becoming more relevant in the modern era. This yoga harnesses the inherent qualities of the right side of the brain. In the whole scheme of our education, there is no component which helps in training our emotional personality. Thus modern youth is tortured by various sorts of emotional problems leading either to emotional outbursts, social disharmony or emotional suppressions and psychosomatic problems. Bhakti yoga teaches us the art of invoking the emotions, intensifying them and diffusing them at will. Thus, the right way to handle emotions through sublimation is taught. Apart from bringing unto us the freedom from emotional problems, this path helps uS to gain control over our emotions and thus leads us to a lite full of love, harmony and bliss. Ultimately the path gives us such mastery by which we reach the very basis of emotions - namely SILENCE.
Harnessing the 'will' and the capacity to do, undo or to do in a different way, is the technique of Raja Yoga. Propounded by the great Indian sage Patanjali, these techniques help us to use the will at the physiological as well as the mental levels to a very great extent. Unless our high sensitivity and sharp intellect are properly controlled, stress and its dangerous manifestations are bound to continue. Patanjali, recognising this need, has offered multilayered operations to harness the will to eliminate such dangerous effects at the physical, mental and emotional levels. This yoga has eight limbs. (See fig. 1.5)
The initial set of "do's and don'ts" (Niyama & Yama) help us to prepare ourselves and if followed with complete seriousness can themselves lead us to the highest level - Yogasanas, the most commonly used facet of yoga (to an extent, YOGA has become almost synonymous with yogasanas), are such congenial postures of the body which automatically restore the balance of the impaired homeostasis and brings tranquility to the mind. The Pranayama techniques use special breathing rhythms and a slowing down process by which the imbalances at the more subtle layers of our personality are set right paving the way for an easy access to the hidden potentialities of inner Silence. The fifth limb Pratyahara increases the will- power at the level of the senses. The rush of the senses towards their objects is brought under control by the technique of Pratyahara which in essence 'Slows down' the innate rush of the mind, by developing an awareness during the pre-interaction phase of the senses with their objects. These five limbs - Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama and Pratyahara enhance the Will power inbuilt at our physical and physiological levels.
The last three limbs - Dharana (focussing the mind on any chosen thought), Dllyana (Meditation featured by single thought, slowness, wakefulness, expansiveness and energy conservation) and. Samadhi (a process of shifting to a deeper layer of consciousness where the seer-seen and the process of seeing merge together) enhance the will-power at the mental level. Thus the eight-limbed Astanga Yoga caters to the entire Body-Mind Complex and hence is called the KING among the Yogas - RAJA YOGA. In facing the challenge of stress, these techniques of harnessing the will can work wonders.
Apart from periodically and regularly releasing the accumulated stress and tension within us, which is essential to begin with, it is also imperative to move towards a stress-free life, retaining all the powers and capabilities obtained by a sensitive mind and a sharp intellect vital for day to day functioning in the high-tech era. Only then, will the challenge of stress be totally met. The secret of action or the Karma Yoga offers this very art. Using this we Iearn the art of 'Working in Relaxation' with total 'Awareness in action'. Not losing sight of the innate bliss and poise, the. path of work teaches us to interact in society judiciously and effectively. To retain this objectivity and attunement to a clearer and more subtle state of mind, as a judge does while hearing the powerful arguments of both the parties, is the trick in Karma Yoga. The regular release of stress and tension helps to spread that insight throughout the action phase. Application of the Karma Yoga techniques help to reduce the accumulation of tension and stress and thus makes the possibility of a tension-free life, a reality.
Thus Yoga, which develops the personality physically, mentally and emotionally from a holistic perspective, offers a total and comprehensive approach to the challenges posed by stress ..
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