No one needs to tell us that modern life is fast-paced and stressful. We already experience it.
On a daily basis, our attention and energies are divided amongst our commitments to where we work and live—our jobs, employers, partners, children, parents, siblings, friends and others.
In addition, we have to take care of our own concerns including our health and possessions such as our homes, cars, etc.
The pressure of trying to get everything done, coupled with a never-ending to-do list looming over our heads, makes it difficult to live stress-free.
I have learned the surest way to live without stress from my teacher, Swami Tejomayananda. It’s something that I strive for everyday. I share his teachings with you here.
Having a higher altar reduces stress and the ego
Swami Tejomayananda advises us to infuse everything that we do with the remembrance of God and dedicate our actions to Him. This helps to uplift and lighten the mind by taking some attention away from our mundane concerns. Importantly, it also reduces the ego.
This brings a little detachment, which helps us see things with greater clarity, and so we perform better. The drama of our everyday lives does not suck us in as easily.
Now, if you don’t believe in God, it’s not a problem. “God” is just one of the ways we can describe Nature, or the universal intelligence that governs the world we live in. The “Universe” “Higher Power” “Divine” “Source” or “All-That-Is,” are some of its many synonyms. The names don’t really matter.
What matters is that we have a higher altar that re-directs our minds away from the insistent pressures of worldly concerns.
The mental paradigm would be that every thing, person and situation in our lives comes from the Divine Source. It alone gives us the energy and knowledge to accomplish our duties and other actions. And, to It we dedicate them all.
One common focus simplifies life
Keeping the Divine as a central focus would ward off the feeling that we are doing different things for different people or aspects of our lives.
So, whether you are doing something for your manager at work, your family at home, or volunteering in your community, you will not feel that your energies are dissipated in various channels. They are all channeled and dedicated to one consolidated focus—the Divine. Think of how much simpler life would be.
You will not hanker for any rewards from various people in your life, whether they are tangible (money, position, title,) or intangible (appreciation, recognition). Your greatest reward is the inner peace you gain when your mind is uplifted to the Divine.
The beauty of such a mental outlook is that even life challenges will be taken with greater acceptance. You will feel that the Higher Intelligence knows what is best, and will bring you what is for your higher good.
You offer everything to God, including all your mental fears, frustrations, anxieties and worries.
Your mantra would be: “For you, O Lord.”
Do your best, and leave the rest
Here are a couple of examples of dedicating actions to a higher altar from my personal life:
When I’m cooking a dish for dinner, I try to keep a happy state of mind, put in my best and offer my actions to God. And so, I am not anxious or excited to get some appreciation from my family. If the dish didn’t turn out well in spite of my efforts, I also surrender those feelings to the Divine.
Writing articles like this one and sending out the Spiritual Solutions newsletter are actions that I dedicate to the Divine. I put in my sincere best effort, and then, whether people appreciate them or not, does not concern me. I have already gained my joy from doing, and offering the action itself.
First cultivate faith
Now, all this is only good if you have faith in a divine higher power. If you don’t even believe it exists, you will not be able to implement the ideas mentioned here.
In my article, How to Cultivate Faith in the Higher Power, I describe how faith differs from mere belief, and how we can build our faith.
And, in 9 Ways to Develop Divine Love, I share how we can grow in love for the Higher Power. This is important because our minds happily and easily go toward the object of our love
Don’t own your roles, responsibilities and actions
When you dedicate your actions to the divine presence in your life, you will no longer feel frazzled and frustrated at the end of the day.
By not owning the roles, responsibilities and actions you do, you free yourself up mentally and physically.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from my Guru that I have pinned up next to my desk:
When did the flute have to worry about the audience, or judge what to play next? Be a flute in His hands. —Swami Chinmayananda
Cultivating such an attitude will surely reduce stress, bring greater peace, and even spiritual growth.
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