If there is a competition for God in the world today, I would say it is stress.
Stress has become almost synonymous to God – it is omnipresent. Today, you can find stress everywhere.
What really is stress?
Stress is when you have too much to do, too little time, and no energy.
How to get rid of stress?
- By reducing the workload – This does not appear to be a possibility these days.
- By increasing the time – This is which we cannot do. It is fixed, unless we go to another planet.
- By Increasing the energy level within us – And this is the only option we are left with. When we have enough energy and enthusiasm, we are able to handle any challenge.
One aspect of the yoga way is to provide us tools and techniques to lead a stress-free and tension-free life. On the other hand, yoga is also the greatest wealth of humankind, I would say.
What is wealth?
Wealth is that which brings us comfort. The purpose of wealth is to bring us happiness and comfort.
If wealth doesn’t succeed in achieving this goal of bringing comfort to human psyche and human life, I wouldn’t call it wealth. Yoga is wealth, in the sense that it brings absolute comfort.
A violence-free society, disease-free body, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every individual. And the parliaments world over are striving to achieve this goal of human existence – that is happiness! Isn’t it? We all want happiness for our people. And yoga is the way for that much needed happiness.
We think yoga is some sort of exercise. In the ’80s and ’90s, when I would tour Europe, yoga was not a subject or thing of mainstream society. Yoga was considered to be a very hard exercise, standing on nails or on one leg. The whole concept of yoga was very weird.
Today, I am glad that there is an awakening and people have recognized the importance of yoga.
World over, yoga has become synonymous with relaxation, happiness, and a creative mind. Even big companies in their advertisements show people sitting meditating or doing yoga to depict the inner peace one has. This is a very welcome move.
I would like to remind you that whether you like it or not, we are all born yogis. If you observe a baby, you will realize that from the age of 3 months to the age of 3 years, a baby does all the yoga postures. The way a baby breathes, sleeps and smiles, everything is yoga! Babies are the perfect yoga teachers and should be seen as yogis. This is why babies are stress-free and smile more than 400 times a day. The purpose of yoga is to put a smile on our face in spite of all the stress and tension we add to our day-to-day life.
The benefits of yoga are multi-fold:
- Yoga has immense health benefits
- Yoga also changes the behavior of a person since behavior depends on the stress level in a person. It creates a friendly disposition and a very pleasant atmosphere.
We convey a lot through our presence, and our vibes. Yoga helps to improve our vibes. I would like to give an example:
You can notice the difference when someone close to you says, “Have a nice day!” and when an air hostess wishes you with the same, “Have a nice day!” When the air hostess greets you, she does not really mean it. But when the same words, come from a kith, kin, or a close friend, they carry certain vibes. Speaking in terms of Quantum Physics, we are all emitting vibes or wavelengths. When communication breaks down, we are used to saying ‘Our wavelengths don’t match.’
Because our ability to communicate depends on our ability to receive communication from others.
Here, yoga helps us to have that clear mind.
Another issue that we face in society today is prejudice.
All types of prejudice: prejudice with religion, race, class, gender, educational status, financial status.
All these different types of prejudice has clogged the mind of men and that’s how conflicts arise in society.
Yoga helps us to reach out and resolve this conflict created by prejudice.
It spontaneously and naturally makes our mind free of prejudice.
I would like to quote an incident that happened in Ivory Coast. There was polarization between two villages. People of two different religions chased out the (people from) other religion from their town.
Just one of our volunteer, went and talked to them, taught them a little relaxation, meditation, and brought the people from both villages together to shake hands. And you would see and you have also seen some of the experiences, how they could break that barrier or the prejudice in the mind and shake hands with people who are different than us. I think this is very much needed in the world today.
Now, coming to the aspect of developing skills within oneself. The propounder of yoga has said, “Yogaha Karmasu Kaushalam”. In Gita, Lord Krishna has said, yoga is skill in action. Yoga is not just an exercise, it is how skillfully you can communicate and how skillfully you can act in any given situation. This is again yoga. And I don’t think any one here would say, we don’t want skills. I don’t think anyone here would say, we don’t want innovation.
Innovation, intuition, skills and better communication: all these are side-effects of yoga. I wouldn’t even say they are the main effects. They are the side-effects. These things come to us naturally.
Having said that, does yoga conflict with any of our belief system? I would say not at all. Yoga always promotes harmony in diversity. It encourages diversity. The word yoga itself means uniting; uniting all diverse aspects of existence, of life. Now, whether someone is a businessman or a public figure or a private individual, we want peace, we want to smile, we want to be happy. And this happiness can only happen when we look into the root cause of unhappiness.
Unhappiness is due to:
- lack of vision
Again, European Union, you have been talking a lot about GDH. I suppose from GDP, we are moving to Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH). Here is something that can aid that. It can be a very very useful tool. A large percentage of our population today is suffering from depression. Just popping a Prozac or anti-depressants will not help. We need something that is natural as natural as our breath that we can use and elevate our spirit and feel that much needed happiness. The pursuit of happiness that everybody is after. When we are happy, what is our experience? When you are happy, what is it that you feel? Have you noticed a sense of expansion within you? Suppose you are complimented or accomplished something that you wanted to accomplish, you will find that there is something in you that is expanding. At the same time, when someone insults us, we find that something in us shrinks. So, yoga is putting our attention on this something that is expanding when we are happy and crushing or contracting when we feel unhappy. Often, we feel helpless about our negative emotions. Neither in school, nor at home does anyone teach us about how to handle our negative emotions. Yoga has a secret to turn this state of mind. It makes you so independent. It empowers you to feel the way you want to feel at any time. Instead of being a victim of your own feelings. In our experience of teaching in prisons around the world, with half a million people. This is what we have found: every culprit says he is a victim of something. When we heal the victim in him, the culprit disappears. And breath, as simple as breath, can do this job for us. We just need to learn how to breathe in different rhythms, different patterns and how to eliminate the trauma, the strong impressions in the mind or the pain, suffering that we have been carrying in our heart.
Again, Patanjali, the propounder of yoga, he enunciated the purpose of yoga, “Heyam Dukham Anagatham.” The purpose of yoga is to stop the misery before it comes. On many counts, this is very useful. When a conflict is boiling somewhere, ask people to breathe, sit together and communicate better, you will find that you can resolve the conflict right at the root cause of it. Whether it is greed, anger, jealousy, hatred, or frustration, all these negative emotions can be healed or re-oriented through yoga. And this is my experience throughout the world.
Yoga also helps someone to be more responsible, to take more responsibility in life. This is called Karma Yoga. A Karma Yogi is one who takes responsibility. We all play many roles in our life. We have an option to play the role either as a yogi or as a non-yogi; one who is responsible or one who is not-so-responsible. You can have a responsible teacher, a doctor with responsibility, a businessman who cares. Caring, sharing, and responsibility are the characters that yoga simply nurtures insides us. We all have this inside us. The entire population has this inside us, but it needs some nurturing. Yoga is one of the best tool to nurture an individual to take responsibility.
Now, I would like to lead you through a small exercise desktop yoga and desktop meditation, which you can use in any stressful time, whenever you need.
If we take just a little more time, a couple of hours, we can learn a lot many techniques related to our body mind complex. Simple things which will come in very handy for us when we are facing a lot of stress. As decision makers, when we have to take important decisions, I would say just take that 10 minutes, sit back, relax. Just center yourself and you know you will find some wonder happening inside of us. Our intuition gets triggered with these techniques, and intuition is something that never goes wrong. If it goes wrong, it is not intuition. Thank you!