The art of busting stress: Have faith that the best will happen, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

In an exclusive interview with CD, founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks about the Hindu approach to stress, introspection and health.It’s an organisation that people often turn to when life gets too much for them. Since it was started in 1981, the Art of Living Foundation has been helping an anxious and over-worked generation find peace through courses in yoga and meditation.

In an exclusive interview with CD, founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talks about the Hindu approach to stress, introspection and health:

How can faith help reduce stress and restore a sense of balance to people’s lives?

Faith is of three types. One is faith in oneself, another is faith in the goodness of people around you, third is the faith in a power which is higher than us. All these three types of faith are interconnected. Lack of faith in the higher power will weaken the faith in oneself as well, and it also causes fear and anxiety.

What do the Hindu scriptures say about maintaining a balance between family and work?

They say to exhibit brilliance in life one has to be doing yoga. Yoga brings yogyata, meaning skills and abilities. Again, yoga is not just physical exercises, it is a state of mind and personality. Our scriptures always advocated balance in everything — in rest and activity, in eating. A lot of emphasis is given on balance in Bhagwad Gita — Samatvam Yoga Ucyate, balance is yoga. 

Have Indian executives become workaholics, in their quest to be successful?You cannot classify all of them like that. India is a very peculiar country. Unlike Germany and Japan, in India you have all types of people. There are people who are very slack in their delivery, there are people who are time conscious and there are those who do not keep up any time at all. Because India is a country of mixed cultures, it has diverse mindsets. 

How does a person know when he’s over doing his passion for his work, when he needs to take a break and rest?It’s like asking how a person knows when he feels sleepy or hungry. Like sleep and hunger, exhaustion also takes a toll on the body. Often instead of attending to stress, if they go into intoxicants they seem to get a relief temporarily, but in the long run it damages their whole health, especially the nervous system. It is a good idea to meditate daily rather than drive yourself towards a breakdown 

Is the Hindu approach to this different from other faiths?

Hinduism is more a way of life and its approach has always been to connect the individual with the universal and strike a balance between them. It is inclusive. In the Occident, they always ask you to believe first and then say, “One day you get an experience.” In the Orient, we have always said “Experience first, believe later.” We start with experience and then translate it into a belief system.

Hinduism is more scientific among the faiths in the world because it does not force you to believe first. It gives you the freedom of thinking, of believing and of worshiping. This makes Hinduism unique and acceptable to the current way of life, which is full of diversity. The flexibility of Hinduism to adjust to time and space is remarkable. The scripture says Desha Kalana Anusrutya — you have to be sensitive to time and place.

How can people best organise their lives so that there is a balance?

Have faith that the best will happen to you. Put your hundred per cent in whatever you are doing. Thirdly, sincerity in action and clarity in mind comes when you introspect and do some yoga and meditation.