Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
(Below is the talk given by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Institute of Chartered Accountants on 15th June 2016, in London)
If there no peace, there is no prosperity, then I don’t think you will have any job to do (laughter). Accountancy has no job if there is no prosperity, and the basis of prosperity is peace.Actually, this is a catch 22 situation -- if there is prosperity there is peace, and if there is peace there is prosperity. It’s sort of the chicken and egg situation. Peace is such an ingredient in everyone’s life, without which no creativity is possible, no intuition is possible, and without which you don’t have energy either. So how do we find inner peace? The journey begins here!
Do we ever take out a little time to reflect on ourselves? As I am speaking, we are all speaking together. I am not speaking alone. Each one of us is having a dialogue with our self. Are we aware of the dialogue that is going on within us? As I am saying something, you are saying 'Yes' or 'No', am I right? You have to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. So you are also talking. That aspect of our mind or consciousness which agrees or disagrees is our intellect, and it is very important that we throw some light on our own intellect. Now, how do we do this? Self reflection! Reflecting on our self removes a lot of confusion and cobwebs from the mind.
Whether one agrees or not is a different question, but do we know that we are agreeing or disagreeing? Are we conscious of our agreement and our disagreement? This is vital for the development of our intellect – the sharpness of the intellect, clarity and perception. Are we all 100% here? Most of the time our memories haunt us. As we are listening to a talk, 101 things that we are concerned about plays in the background. Psychologist say that when you are listening to someone speaking for about 10 minutes, you’ve mentally gone out for a tea or coffee break three times in those 10 minutes! So,the presence of the mind is inversely proportional to the impressions in the mind – lesser the impressions in the mind, more the presence.
Now, in this stimulant world, when we are bombarded with so much stimulation, is it possible to have good presence of mind? I would say – yes, we can! The human mind is capable of handling both.
Are we here? We have to come back. We take little trips here and there, every now and then. Coming back to the moment brings that alertness.
Usually, our mind is very sharp and alert in four situations :
1. When there is fear. Sometimes fear becomes a motivating factor. When there is fear, mind does not go anywhere, it is 100% in the present.
2. When there is 'wow' factor, a wonderment, then the mind does not go anywhere.
3. When is an opportunity; it could be a big business opportunity, then you are right there. Greed can also put our mind in the present moment. Then there is love and commitment for whatever mission you have taken – that can keep you right there on the spot.
4. When you are doing yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, then you are in the present moment. And this presence of mind brings clarity in our perception and makes our expression satisfactory.
When our expression is not satisfactory, we find that what we convey is not really what we want to convey. A lot of people find it very difficult to convey what they feel. Usually people end us saying, "Nobody understands me, I am misunderstood". Haven’t you heard this many times? This is due to lack in our expression. So, attending to that which is the central point, the core of our existence, around which our professional and personal life is revolving, can bring these abilities to us which we may not have or we may aspire to have.
We can do multiple things at the same time – be centered, happy and not allow anyone to steal our smile. So, I have come up with number of small techniques, some ancient and some modern and that has seemed to have helped people.
How to manage stress?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First of all, do you know what stress is? Stress is too much to do and too little time or energy. When we have too much to do with not enough time and energy, the we get stressed. So either you reduce your workload, which doesn’t seem to be a possibility these days, or you increase your time – this is not possible either. So what we are left with is to increase your energy levels.
Now how do we increase our energy levels?
1. The right amount of food – not too much and not too little. A balanced diet with enough carbohydrates and proteins.
2. The right amount of sleep. 6-8 hours of sleep, not more not less.
3. Learning some deep breathing exercises - this increases your energy.
4, Few moments of a meditative mind. Few minutes of deep relaxation - conscious deep relaxation is what I would call meditation. A few minutes of meditation can relieve all types of stress. If you meditate in the morning and evening for 15-20 minutes, it is good enough. It will keep you going.
Usually, I recommend meals and meditation in the afternoon. In work places when people sit together and meditate for a few minutes and share a meal together, they find it so refreshing and are able to carry on through the day with the same energy which they came to the office with.
How to stay in the present?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First of all, you must know that my mind is wandering, then, half the job is done! The second thing is, take out a little time for yourself - just 15 seconds in between.
I want to share a little story with you. There was an executive who said that he was very upset with his boss. So he wrote a very nasty letter to his own boss. He signed it and decided to send it out after his meeting with me. When he mentioned this to me, I gave him this idea, that before signing any important paper, take a 15 seconds gap and just be still and reflect. So he did it, and he later said, "Gurudev, I did not send that letter that I had written, and it saved me a lot of embarrassment. And it saved my job as well".
Taking that little time, that 15 seconds gap, can make a big different. You can do this several times during the course of the day.
As children, we used to play this game called ‘Statue’. We would be running and playing and someone would say, ‘Statue’, and we had to stand still. Have you played this game? This is one of the brilliant things to do to bring the mind to the present moment. And of course, meditation is very important. A few minutes of meditation keeps your mind like a clean slate to take on new load of work.