On this planet, who has not been under stress, anxiety, or depression at some point of time in one’s life?
Then, if you are also under Stress, Anxiety or Depression, you are normal.
There is no reason to be overly stressed or anxious or depressed at any time.
The period of COVID-19 has gripped many people, including young, in stress, anxiety and depression.
Let’s spend some time understanding the true nature and cause of SAD; and then dealing with. Let’s begin with a few questions:
What is the seat of SAD?
What is mind?
An amalgam of reactions of our sense organs to worldly objects.
What are sense organs?
Five: Nose, Ears, Eyes, Tongue, Skin.
Thus, we have five senses: Smelling, Hearing, Seeing, Taste and Touch.
O’ isn’t fun? we have five sensors in our body.
We have seen the power of sensors that open the door for us automatically or turn on the lights as we walk into the area. Now think about it: our body has five sensors. Isn’t awesome?
What is our body?
May sound like a silly question.
But not really. How many of us are aware that each one of us has three bodies, not just one that we commonly see or identify with.
Body to the human eye is five action organs and five sense organs.
Five sense organs we mentioned above. The five action organs are: Hands, Legs, Mouth, Genital and rectum.
These 10 organs are gross body.
Mind, Intellect and Ego are thought body.
Soul (Atman, in Sanskrit) is the cause body.
So, you see you have three bodies, gross body, thought body and cause body.
Now the question: What is the seat of SAD?
We said, Mind. That is thought body.
And what is mind?
We said, an amalgam of sensory reactions of our sense organs to worldly objects.
Pretty much everything; we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste; known to us by a variety of identities and names like friends, family, competitors, enemies, well-wishers, road, airplane, bus, car, mountain, river and so on.
What are sensory reactions?
The feelings. The feeling of pain or pleasure, stress or relaxation, hope and optimism or pessimism and depression, attraction or repulsion, boring or lively, good or bad or not too bad or ugly or disgusting, etc.
The cause of feelings is engagement of sense organs with worldly objects.
To overcome these feelings is to detach oneself (sense organs) from worldly objects.
योग: चित्त-वृत्ति निरोध:
Yoga chit- vriti nirodha (Patanjali).
‘Eradication of the feelings (of the mind) is Yoga’, as Sage Patnajali said in his Patanjali Yoga Sutra.
Is it doable?
Meditation is the way. Withdrawing yourself ( your sense organs) from the worldly objects is the way.
But please know that withdrawing yourself from the worldly objects is not dropping into a state of vacuum. It is to engage with your real self. Your origin, sustenance, and end. That you would then sooner realize that it is common to all worldly objects. The same supreme power, omnipotent, omnipresent; existent before and after this world, unmanifest is the cause of all creation.
‘Shaswat’, ‘Satya’. Timeless. True. The Real, whatever you like to call.
To realize our real self, in meditation, it is often advised to focus on your breathing. Inhalation and exhalation. Isn’t a wonder? Your breathing, pulse and heartbeat are the finest things that can happen to you.
Diversion of Mind
To put it in our day-to-day language, the process of yoga and meditation is diversion of mind from worldly objects to real self.
Well, that process of diversion of mind is the best remedy for Stress, Anxiety and Depression.
You are in stress, anxious, depressed, divert your mind to something that you really like, person, place, event, moment. That pleases you. Don’t tell me, you have nothing that pleases you! You yourself are a unique, with no duplicate, creation on this planet. Shouldn’t it please you?
I love to call this diversion of mind, applying a circuit breaker.
The best circuit breaker I have seen is physical activity.
Death of a loved one, makes us all sad, anxious, and depressed.
Our Rishis and Shastras provided ‘karam- kand’, certain rituals.
That was breaking the circuit of SAD with physical activity.
Break your circuit of negative thoughts with physical activity. Going to Mall, buying things, eating are some of the responses often noticed these days. Good for momentary relief at least.
Let’s take a relook at the happy hormones: Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, Endorphins.
How do you get these? By service to others, receiving appreciation,love and affection from others, etc. By physical activity.
So, one lesson: you may relieve yourself of SAD by diverting your mind, applying circuit breaker, by a physical activity of your choice. When experiencing SAD, the earliest you apply the circuit breaker, the better it is.
The second Lesson:
Read, Understand and Remember Shloka 2/47 of Bhagwad Gita.
कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७
(Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani)
Meaning: You have the right to work only but never to its fruits.
Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.
Please replace the word ‘right to’ by ‘control on’ in the above and the read, understand and remember it.
In simple words, it means you have a control on your actions but not results.
Any action has three elements, namely, input, process and outcome or output.
What 2/47 says is that you have control over inputs and process, but not on outcome of your action.
That is very true.
You may reflect on your own actions or take a survey of others about their actions. The inputs and process are within your power, but not the outcome.
Controllable and Uncontrollable
May appreciate, life is made up of two parts: Controllable and Uncontrollable.
You should not worry about controllable; instead you should do everything within your power to do it the best way.
And you should not worry about uncontrollable; because that by definition is not in your control.
To understand the difference between controllable and uncontrollable, there is a story about Vivekananda that goes like this:
When Vivekananda was writing his exam, his friend reached him and said, your mother has expired.
Vivekananda asked, is she dying or dead? The friend said, she is dead. Vivekananda said, Ok, then I will complete my exam and come. Because in that situation, I can’t do anything. It is beyond me.
Second Lesson: Learn to differentiate between controllable and uncontrollable in your life. And both should not be the reason for any worry, stress, anxiety, or depression.
As per Indian culture, ‘Chintan’ (thinking strategizing, planning) we must do , but not ‘Chinta’ (worrying).
To lighten this discussion, let me share a story about how wisemen found a solution to SADness of a King.
The Legend has it as follows:
Long ago, there was a King in India. He called all his wisemen and asked: Can you please find something for me that will never let me be sad?
After due research and consultation, the wisemen handed him a folded piece of paper on which a mantra was written.
They told the King that you may open this paper and read the mantra whenever you are sad, and you will not be sad after reading it.
It was incredible. But it worked. Whenever the King was sad, he opened that folded paper and read the mantra, and soon overcame his grief.
You must be wondering what was that mantra? You may also like to have it. After all who of us does not experience sadness and doesn’t want to overcome it at the earliest.
The mantra that was written on the folded paper for the King, was, ‘Yeh Bhi Na Rahega’. In simple English it means, this too shall pass.
Indeed, ‘this too shall pass’ should be remembered in every situation of life whether grief or joy. When in grief, don’t be overly in grief, this too shall pass. And when in joy, don’t be overly in joy, treading on the toes of others; remember that this too shall pass.
- Divert your mind from stress, anxiety, depression by applying Circuit Breaker through physical activity of your choice.
- Know the Controllable and Uncontrollable. Focus on Controllable. May pray for Uncontrollable be in your favor (or buy insurance, if available).
- Remember, ‘this too shall pass’. True for all situations of life; pain or pleasure. We live in a transitory world.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.