The Best Stress Buster!

Vishal Chauhan, 17/01/2019

The Best Stress Buster!

Make stress your ally with breathing practice and a positive attitude, writes Nayaswami Gyandev.

We’ve all experienced how stress raises blood pressure and heart rate, and interfere with digestion and sleep. Chronic stress also increases inflammation, a major contributor to illness and inclines one towards anxiety and depression.

But there’s a way to counter these effects, and it’s free, simple, and takes very little time. Modern research has shown that a simple breathing practice from the ancient science of yoga can do this.

Method: Sit or stand erect, or lie supine. Breathe slowly, 4-5 breaths per minute without strain, diaphragmatically. Your belly expands on inhalation and relaxes on exhalation through the nose. Make your inhalations and exhalations of equal duration and concentrate on the flow of breath.

If it’s too slow for you, breathe a bit faster; with practice, it will become comfortable to breathe slower.

Pause now, and try it again. Even two minutes (8-10 breaths) of this practice bring benefits. Imagine the benefits if you breathe this way, even for short periods, multiple times each day.


This Simple Practice Has Several Benefits:

  • Activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms and harmonises body and mind.
  • Oxygenates the blood.
  • Increases heart rate variability. Unlike the constant fast rate during stress, a healthy heart rate varies, even between inhalation and exhalation.
  • Increases resilience from stress.
  • Improves perceptual processing, as stress can distort sense perceptions.
  • Improves memory.
  • Promotes persistence of calmness.
  • Increases willpower.
  • Improves the quality of your decisions.

The Best Stress Buster!

Quick Solution!

Here’s something even quicker: Place your right forefinger at the point between your eyebrows. Close your eyes and turn your gaze comfortably upward towards that point. Concentrate on that point for 30 seconds while breathing slowly. This simple practice stimulates the brain’s prefrontal cortex — the seat of concentration, willpower, creativity, happiness, and many other valuable faculties, while quieting the limbic system, the part of the brain that makes stress feel like a crisis.

On a deeper level, Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, strongly recommended focusing on the spiritual eye to accelerate spiritual growth because it’s the centre of Divine bliss within the body.


You’re Ally!

Research has shown that stress affects you positively or negatively according to whether you view it as good or bad. So stress can be your ally if you develop a ‘positive stress mindset’. Yes, sometimes there’s too much stress, and you need a break. But don’t long for a stress-free life because a meaningful life always has stress; your very striving to make good things happen creates stress. The solution is to view the energy that stress awakens in you — energy of worry, tension, and overload as a valuable resource rather than a hindrance: your body and mind are gearing up to help you.

Breathe smoothly and channel that awakened energy into whatever is needed — strength, determination, motivation, focus, endurance, or helping others.

Many yoga practices can help you do this. The above forefinger-at-the spiritual- eye technique, for example, does more than quiet the limbic system. Strongly — yet with relaxation — visualise energy, feel energy flowing to the prefrontal cortex to stimulate whatever prefrontal faculties you need: willpower, creativity, concentration, enthusiasm, happiness, or the ability to learn quickly, get along with others, or simply laugh. It works!

Thus reduce stress when necessary, but don’t resent it, get upset, complain, or fear it. Instead, use the energy of stress; make it your ally — and call upon your Divine Ally to help you in the process: “Let’s do this together, God!” That’s a divine way to beat stress.

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