Responding to Stress
During this drama of life, we face stresses. There may be illness, unemployment or other kinds of losses. How we respond to these events is extremely important to our health and success, but, most of all, to our spiritual development.
A common reaction to misfortune is fear: will something terrible happen to me, my family, my community? We may say, “I have never felt such stress; I am totally stressed out.”. We may lose our usual confidence and even abandon meditation. Are you turning to overeating, binge-watching television, online gaming, social media entertainments, or numerous other distractions when faced with stressful situations? We try to avoid the stress.
However, as Hazur Maharaji counseled us, “Unhappy moments often prove to be a blessing in disguise.”1 In another book, he wrote, “He is the One who’s doing all this drama from within. ... He is instigating us to come to the third eye.”2 We see how positive he is.
Our attitude toward stress matters. When we practice meditation, with a devoted heart and our best intention, we come to view stress as a challenge, not a threat. We accept our situation and seek good solutions.
Prominent social scientists join the Masters in stating that a positive attitude toward stress brings better results. “Stress mindsets are powerful because they affect not just how you think but also how you act…. When you view stress as harmful, it is something to be avoided … instead of taking steps to address its source.”3
The latest scientific research “reveals that stress can make you smarter, stronger and more successful. It helps you learn and grow. It can even inspire courage and compassion.”4 The Masters agree. As Hazur Maharaj Ji wrote, “Paradoxical as it may seem, even suffering can be a source of power, and it has a chastening and cleansing effect if gone through with understanding.”5
Regular meditation helps us keep our balance and not get too upset. We find if we can accept the reality of our situation, we can find a solution. “Welcome the moment of suffering, for it reminds you of the Lord. It comes through His grace, not otherwise. So, do not get perturbed in suffering.”6 In our own time, Babaji often expresses the thought that there is no stress too great for a satsangi to manage, and we observe how he keeps his balance during his own times of personal stress. As Hazur Maharaji wrote, “Meditation gives mental strength and spiritual bliss and enables us to face life with great hope and courage.”7
Through meditation, we learn to tolerate all kinds of mental states which arise. We sit and practice simran, no matter what dismal fantasies our mind projects. We are paying attention and focusing on simran. Research scientists affirm that such practice leads to a better attitude: “mindfulness and the ability to tolerate uncertainty seem to be associated with a more positive view of stress.”8
At initiation, we freely agree to a spiritual purpose in our life under the guidance of our living Master. Never does that change. “Once a Master has accepted a disciple, he never leaves him, but is ever ready to guide him on the path. He does much more for us than the human mind can comprehend.”9 Naturally, daily meditation keeps that sense of purpose alive.
Again, prominent scientific research supports the Masters’ promises: “Many people who have a sense of purpose live longer. For example, in a study that followed over 9,000 adults in the UK for ten years, those who reported highly meaningful lives had a 30 percent reduction in mortality… the ability to find meaning in our lives helps us stay motivated in the face of great difficulties.”10 Sant Mat gives our lives deep meaning.
Sometimes, we may be sheltering in place without work to do or people to care for. Other times, we may be facing numerous choices and we don’t know which one is best. Whatever is our stress, it is always best to keep Master in mind and to find the time for spiritual practice. Then we are accepting the guidance of the inner Master. We are trusting the Master when he says, “Turn to the Lord for help and you will receive it.”11
- Quest for Light (1977), Letter 103
- Die To Live (1979), Letter 371
- McGonigal, Kelly, The Upside of Stress, Penguin Random House, New York (2015), p. 17
- McGonigal, Kelly, The Upside of Stress, p. xvii
- Light On Sant Mat (1977), Letter 152
- Baba Jaimal Singh Maharaj, Words Divine, p. 48; cf. Spiritual Letters, p. 205
- Quest For Light 197, Letter 396
- ibid., McGonigal, p. 17
- Maharaj Charan Singh, Light On Sant Mat (1977), Letter 173
- ibid., McGonigal, Kelly, pp. 66–67
- Maharaj Charan Singh Ji, Quest For Light (1977), Letter 38