The stress of being spiritual

Isn’t spirituality and everything we do, geared towards achieving happiness?

Written by Anuradha Varma | New Delhi | Updated: April 11, 2017 5:08 pm
spirituality, spiritual, soul, happiness, spirituality, the path towards spirituality, spiritual path, stress and spirituality, stress, how to beat stress, being spiritual, spiritual guru, spiritual health, spiritual lifestyle, spiritual well being, lifestyle, health benefits, indian express, indian express news Spirituality is the process of becoming more self-aware. (Source: Pixabay)

You are what you eat…and drink, which I was recently told amounted to “bulletproof” coffee, where a combination of potent beans and grass-fed butter promises heightened awareness during the day. Combine that with the slogan “I think, therefore I am” and feeling the pressure to eject every negative pattern out of your brain, the stress to be the best version of yourself gets, well, too much.

ALSO READ | Take a deep breath to de-stress yourself

While it’s great to adopt an organic lifestyle for long-term health benefits, there is a certain superiority attached to being vegan or adopting purer lifestyles as we aim for the higher truth. As a lifelong vegetarian, while I feel at odds with the idea of consuming flesh, I feel great satisfaction when I see cockroaches literally fall out of the woodwork, dead, when I spray insecticide. I have no qualms about swatting mosquitoes, either, or do they not count? Is all this dietary cleansing, drinking water from sunlight-infused coloured bottles, in the hope of orbiting a higher spiritual frequency, in fact, just leaving us stressed out? In this race to claim a higher frequency, we may be losing sight of actual spirituality. As we sift through the right blend of green tea, browse courses in inner engineering and vipassana, we continue to battle deadlines and life crisis, trying unsuccessfully not to get stressed out.

We must remember that all these are the means to an end, not the end itself. Spiritual guru and thinker Dr Deepak Chopra, who launched his new book ‘You Are the Universe’ with Menas Kafatos, tells us in an email chat, “The labels of ‘spirituality’ and ‘therapy’ aren’t terribly useful here. Finding techniques for dealing with stress is possible under both headings, which is why meditation, for example, is both spiritual and therapeutic. A healthy lifestyle isn’t spiritual by itself, but as a person becomes more conscious, which is the purpose of the spiritual path, lifestyle choices often become healthier quite naturally.”

And, isn’t spirituality and everything we do, geared towards achieving happiness? Sometime ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg defined happiness as pursuing something meaningful and maintaining long-term relationships. For a child, joy is simply the sight of a balloon floating above or the promise of an ice-cream. As Ruskin Bond says in A Little Book of Happiness, “Winter sunshine, a child’s laughter, the smell of frying onions, a kiss in the dark, the first monsoon shower — these simple things contribute more to our happiness than acts of passion and excitement.”

Spirituality, Dr Chopra says, is the process of becoming more self-aware — it’s all about consciousness. “In the tradition of nondual spirituality, including Vedanta, pure awareness contains the quality of bliss (Ananda). Although we don’t realize it, every happy experience reflects ananda. The deeper your experience of awareness, the purer your experience of ananda becomes. Then the ups and downs of being happy and unhappy are exchanged for a continual experience of bliss.”

So, if you’re stressed, remember to exhale, look within for answers and if your coffee isn’t green, it’s definitely not the end of the world!

(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee.) Views expressed are personal.

 

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