Stress: A Great Illusion


Three questions come to mind when talking about stress. What is stress? Is it useful? Is it even necessary? The word "stress" is very interesting. It is a word people from all over the world have been using since day one. I am sure you have used it yourself. The word "stress" automatically conjures up many images, none of which are pleasant. Just the thought of the word is chilling. "I am stressed out!" "Look at all the stress I am under." "I can't take much more of this stress!"

Yes, stress seems to be everywhere. Just what is stress? I recently asked a number of people to define it. Their responses were very interesting. No one could pinpoint its meaning. Some said it was like anxiety, but not quite. Yet, they could not say how it differed. Others said it was tension, but could not specify what that meant. Still others were only able to say they know what it is, but cannot describe it. Do you know what it is?

What does it mean? The word stress is like so many other words we use. We think we know its meaning, but when it comes time to define it, we cannot really do it. The American Heritage Dictionary defines stress as, "A mental or emotional disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability and depression. A state of extreme difficulty, pressure, or strain." The dictionary definition places a very strong negative valence to the word. In essence, it is making stress out to be a real villain.

My definition of stress is significantly different from that of the dictionary, and, perhaps, of most people. For me, stress is anything that does not conform to what you think should or shouldn't be, or will or won't be. In other words, stress is a psychological, physiological, and emotional tension resulting from the mind's interpreting the world and comparing it with what the mind wants, needs, expects, hopes for, desires, and so on. It is your perception of what is, compared to your mind's belief. Your perception is telling you that you want something other than what is occurring in this moment.

According to the dictionary, the tension resulting from your perceptions can only be negative in nature. Yet, if you look closely at the physiological components of the definition, "love," "happiness," "bliss" would also fit "...characterized by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension..." According to my way of viewing stress, it can be either positive or negative. The direction is dependent on the mind's perception. Begin thinking about something you are going to be doing that you believe you will be enjoying, and you will create positive stress. Think about something you do not want to happen, or about something that has happened that you do not like, and you will create negative stress. In either case, the body is building tension. Your body begins to experience a heightened level of energy. Soon, you begin to experience stress of the psyche, of the body, and of the emotions.

The key to understanding stress is to understand the mind. The mind creates an image that then generates emotional and physiological responses. It is this combination of mind, body and emotions that defines stress. Now, most people will tell you that a little stress is necessary. Without it, you will not be motivated. You will not be able to accomplish your goals, You will not be able to start projects. You will become apathetic without some stress. Is stress really useful? The answer is a reverberating NO! Stress is not useful. It has no value other than what you place on it. It is neither positive nor negative. It is neither utilitarian nor wasteful. It does not even exist except in the mind's eye. Of course, if the mind sees stress, accepts stress, believes in stress, then guess what? When this happens, it fits directly into my law called the Law of Limitation. Very quickly stated, "What you believe is what you get."

Remember, it is the mind that creates stress. It creates it based on your wants, needs, expectations, desires, wishes, hopes, beliefs, aspirations, etc. and how your mind perceives the universal fulfilling these wants, needs, expectations, desires, wishes, hopes, beliefs, aspirations, etc. Do you see the trap that you are falling into? All these words are nothing more than projections of your past into the future: a past that no longer exists and a future that has not happened. Stress is a result of an illusion of the mind. In this moment, in this exact moment, none of this is important. You need nothing, want nothing, expect nothing, desire nothing, wish for nothing, have aspirations for nothing, hope for nothing, and so on.

I think I just answered the last question: Is it even necessary? Obviously, it is not. In our world of illusion it is very necessary, but in the world of reality, of this moment, of NOW, it has absolutely no value. In fact, in this condition, it does not even exist. All that exists in this moment is totality, and in totality there can be no hoping, needing, and desiring. This moment is always perfect, always friendly, always motherly. Only when you disagree with what is, does this perfection disintegrate. Only through meditation or prayer from the heart, can the perfection of this moment be understood, accepted and revered. Go deeply into this moment, be total, be alive now and forget about tomorrow. Tomorrow will happen and become now. What will happen in tomorrow will be a result of your totality now. Forget about stress and get in touch with your being, your spirit, your true self and enjoy this moment from your very center.

Altnewtimes Inc.


By Swami Prem Hamid and Barry J. Naster

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