Updated: Jan 3
Did you know that the first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day?
We all know what it's like to feel stressed, but becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems, and therefore it is important to stop right there and ask yourself ‘what I can do to reduce the level of stress I experience?
In yoga's philosophy, the mind is called manas, that faculty which coordinates our sensory impressions before they are presented to the consciousness.
We all agree that with the rise of social media, technology, constant bombardment by advertising, the media, multiple conversations and noise around us, flashing light as too much critique and nagging around us about just anything and everything, our sensory impressions can overload.
One of the quickest remedies might be to remove yourself from the source before it harms you. One of the symptoms of sensory overload is sleeplessness and muscle tension. Here is where yoga's value becomes as ever as a welcome tool to overcome this sensory overload. Yoga is where you leave the critique and noise besides and self – inquiry helps you examine your contributions to a stressful situation foremost mindfully and examine ‘what’s next’ for you to live a less stressful life.
One of the definitions in the sutras is “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha.”
According to the sutras (sutra 1.2), a complete mastery (reducing the mind's modifications or fluctuations) is yoga. Vyasa (legendary Indian Vedic Sage) tell us that there are 5 different states: disturbed, distracted, stupefied, one-pointed, and a well-balanced and controlled mind.
The exploration of the mind through meditation is the essence of the Sûtras. According to Patañjali, we have a higher, middle and lower mind. The lower mind is predominant in what is called ‘dhuka’ state (clouded perceptions or disturbed mind). The three gunas (some rough translation is “virtue” or “forces”) influence how our mind works, so a mind predominantly resting in rajas is active, intense. A person has the potential to become aggressive, whereas tamas will put you into a slow and lethargic mood with the potential to become depressive, sad and negative.
The mind in sattva is balanced and pure. This occurs in situations when we experience a moment of enlightenment or truth in our life and feel fully awake. The higher mind is the superconscious seat, and this is where we can go deeper into knowledge and where our intellectual thinking is coming from. The middle mind is very much about all the data we use to analyse and compare in the waking state. It regulates our respiration, circulation and abdominal organs. The limbic system drives the lower mind, and all our instinctive urges present themselves in this state.
So, what is the conclusion? Find yourself a nurturing yoga practise, go for a walk in the forest away from unnatural lights and noise of the media, do a restorative practice, go on a retreat or anything that can help you to get away from this sensory overload for a while.
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