Stress is an issue of all time that directly impacts life quality. It is imperative to grasp keys to stress management so that one can live life to the fullest.
Not only does stress affect mental health but it also influences our physical well-being. Some may try to find ways to escape themselves from the stressful state by reaching out to ones who they can confide in. Others find solace in leisure activities or make efforts to become more sociable. Indeed, those approaches to stress management seem to set aside the nature of the issue. There still exists the root of the negative state. We need resolute methods of stress management in the long run.
Right Thought—an approach to stress management
Worrying too much causes us to live in fear and not be able to do anything. Consequently, we will be overwhelmed by stress. Hence, learning how to stop worry is the way to cope with stress. Mature reflection is crucial anytime we suffer from nerves. It means we should take into account the most unexpected situation. It is needless to worry anymore when we brace ourselves for worst-case scenarios. Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh—the Abbot of Ba Vang Pagoda takes an example: “If the worst thing happens that we may lose one leg, we can walk with crutches.”
He shared that many times he must proactively reflect on the worst possibilities to steady His nerves. This way of contemplation can be seen as “Right Thought” that helps us conquer our nerves. In Buddhism, “Right Thought” is the second part of the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha showed us to eradicate all kinds of suffering.
Practising meditation the Buddhist way leading to stress management
Meditation is always praised as an effective way to manage mental problems. Actually, many methods of meditation appeared before the time of the Buddha but they did not lead to true concentration. Once stopping the practice, the mind easily gets chaotic. Later, when Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment after 49 days of meditation under the Bodhi tree, He showed humankind His methods of meditation that could lead to the true stable mind, namely “Right Concentration” that leads to wisdom.
In the Noble Eightfold Path, “Right Concentration” is the last step. As stated by Thay Thich Truc Thai Minh, it is the Buddhist meditation that can make our mind centred and pure, thereby bringing us wisdom.
He takes a metaphor that our mind is like a glass of water filled with dirt. If we shake it, the water is opaque. Whilst we let it still, all the dirt lower then the water becomes transparent. Likewise, an unstable mind is chaotic and confused. By contrast, a tranquil mind is clear and lucid. A lucid mind enables us to reason out solutions to numerous matters, whereas an unstable mind causes anxiety, thus engendering stress. “Meditation is a marvellous antidote for our mind and body. If you are exhausted and stressed, you just need to meditate for 15 minutes to regain your physical and mental balance. That is when your energy is revived”, Thay remarked.
Learning and practising Buddhism to approach stress
Buddhism is not something superstitious or mysterious but has practical values. From more than 2,500 years ago, the Buddha preached numerous sutras on every aspect of daily life that enabled His lay Buddhists to live a better life. Learning the Buddha Dharma keeps our mind calm and stable, thus we will not easily get worried or have mood swings. That’s why practising the Buddha’s teachings can serve as a therapy to relieve stress.
Accordingly, taking refuge in the Three Jewels and adopting Buddhist practice are lucid decisions to make. By nourishing our belief in the Three Jewels, learning and practising the Buddha’s teachings, we build up internal strength and wisdom that guide us through stress.
Everyone has their own approaches to ease the tension. The point is how to find out suitable and long-term solutions to stress. Those methods mentioned above suggest starting from your inner mind to approach stress in a sustainable and comprehensive manner. Only when we learn how to calm our mind, can we gain effective stress management.