STRESS MANAGEMENT AT WORKPLACE THROUGH SPIRITUAL APPROACH
FINAL PROJECT Submitted by
For the award of the EXECUTIVE POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA IN BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
LOYOLA INSTITUTE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION LOYOLA COLLEGE, CHENNAI
Balance Sheet Of Life
Our Birth is our Opening Balance, Our Death is our Closing Balance, Our Prejudice Views are our Liabilities, Our Creative Ideas / Good Deeds are our Assets, Heart is our Current Asset, Soul is our Fixed Assets, Brain is our Fixed Deposit, Thinking is our Current Account, Goodwill & Achievements are our Capital, Character & Morals, our Stock-in-trade, Friends are our General Reserves, Values & Behavior are our Goodwill, Patience is our Interest Earned, Love is our Dividend, Children are our Bonus Issues, Education is Brands/Patents, Knowledge is our Investment,
The profit or loss is our KARMA Earned. So, before the INCOME-TAX assessment (arrival of death), Balance your Sheet!
Swami Ishwarananda (Chinmaya Mission)
This is to certify that the Final Dissertation entitled “STRESS MANAGEMENT AT WORK PLACE THROUGH SPIRITUAL APPROACH” submitted by Kiran Sakroji to LIBA, LOYOLA COLLEGE, CHENNAI for the award of the diploma of Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management is a bonafide record of research work carried out by him under my supervision. To the best of my knowledge, the contents of this report in full or in parts have not been submitted to any other Institute or University for the award of any degree or diploma. The project work has been carried out at “Technip India Limited - Chennai – 600032”
Date: 20th March 2009
Fr. Emmanuel Arockiam, S.J, Ph.D
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my Guide, Fr. Emmanuel Arockiam, whose lectures during my post graduate studies demonstrated to me that concern for humankind should always transcend academia and provide a quest for our times. He continually and convincingly conveyed a spirit of spirituality, apart from various other therapies, as a phenomenal approach to combat stress in our daily lives. Without his guidance and persistent help, completing this dissertation would have been a herculean task.
I thank Dr. T.A Sivasubramaniam, Chairperson, Corporate Program, LIBA, for giving me the opportunity to work in a very interesting area, which has been appealing to me for quite a long time.
I thank my wife, Snehal, for her consistent encouragement, unconditional love and wholehearted support while I decided to be a “professional” student for awhile. I thank her for introducing me to the concepts of human psychology and re-introducing me to the concepts of spirituality.
I also thank my seniors, subordinates and colleagues at Technip India Ltd., without whose help this dissertation would not have been possible.
Everyone experiences stress from time to time, therefore it is perfectly normal. However, normal does not necessarily mean healthy. Nor is it inevitable. The reason we get stressed out is not what is happening to us and not even what happened in the past (at least not directly), but rather, everything depends on our perception. Past experience does influence us strongly, but the medium of that influence is our beliefs or thoughts. Some stress is unavoidable and is actually good for us. But too much stress leads to troubles that can range from upset stomach to anxiety attacks and even as serious as heart attacks. The more we understand our stress, the better prepared we will be at controlling our body's response to stress and restoring a calmer state of mind. This calls for understanding and identifying the stress triggers and various mechanisms to cope with it. A portion of work presented in this report helps us to identify these stress triggers and understand the various coping mechanisms. Stress as a word is used quite often in our daily lives. Hence each one of us has got a different perspective towards it. It is necessary to be aware of all the facts associated with stress, but at the same time it is also necessary to clear the myths associated with it. Since it is the most common word in modern times, a lot of myths are associated with it. An attempt is made in this report to identify some of the common myths and how they can be possibly reinterpreted. A rational, scientific mind, does not accept any process unless it has a scientific dimension to substantiate it. Hence a detailed physiological process of stress has been outlined in the report. Apart from the physiological process, the various impacts of stress on health have been highlighted in order to understand the importance of stress and its harmful effects. The importance of meditation and other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, guided imagery and massage therapies are outlined, as solutions to handle stress in physical ways. Diet also forms an important part to deal with stress and hence an attempt is made to understand the significance of the various foods that
we consume daily. There are certain foods that act as “stress-fighters” and a regular intake of such foods goes a long way in handling stress. In order to avoid the hike in stress levels, an emphasis has been given on other types of foods that need to be avoided. Apart from the physical means of handling stress, a psychological approach of stress management plays a phenomenal role in reducing stress levels drastically. A spiritual approach to stress management has been emphasized in this report. The concept of spirituality at work place has still not picked up in most of the organizations and businesses. Many people have misconceptions about the term “Spirituality” and hence refrain from incorporating it at work place. The report includes some of these misconceptions perceived by a large number of people and tries to remove the cloud of myths encompassing the truth about spirituality. One of the basic tendencies of human-beings is to form relationships with the intention of socializing and de-stressing oneself. These relationships are to be nourished and nurtured. However, sometimes these relationships themselves become the cause of stress. Hence every individual should be aware of certain basic human values and attitudes, which, if not valued in the light of spirituality, would induce herd of stresses. The report throws some light in this context to understand and value the human relationships in order to avoid from coming under the influence of stress and strain on relationships. The management of an organization has to know what can make an employee relate in an insightful way with self and others. It has to nurture a sense of belongingness that makes the employee feel worthwhile. With this intention, some guidelines are provided in the report for developing a spiritual workplace. Spirituality at work place provides host of benefits for the employer as well as the employee. The morale of the employees gets boosted due to self-fulfillment, contentment and deep sense of belonging. The ethical and moral behavior scales up new heights, due to increased sense of trust, truth, honesty, compassion and respect leading to higher productivity, lower costs and higher turnover. Hence, organizations need to take efforts to introduce the concept of spirituality at work place and enjoy the cream of benefits supplemented with it. The report concludes with some stress management techniques and the underlying fact that spirituality at workplace is a win-win situation for both, the employer and employee. v
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 9.1 9.2 Title Page
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…………………………. 36 Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Inverted……………… 37
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page QUOTATION ………………………………………………………………….. CERTIFICATE………………………………………………………………… ACKNOWLEDGEMENT……………………………………………………… EXECUTIVE SUMMARY…………………………………………………….. LIST OF FIGURES…………………………………………………………….. TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………………………. CHAPTER 1 1.1 INTRODUCTION TO STRESS 1 i ii iii iv vi vii
Introduction…………………………………………………………….. CHAPTER 2 STRESS TRIGGERS AND COPING MECHANISMS
2.1 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.1.3 2.1.4 2.1.5 2.1.6 2.2 2.2.1 2.2.2 2.2.3 2.2.4 2.2.5 2.2.6 2.2.7
Stress Triggers………………………………………………………….. Emotional Stressors…………………………………………………….. Family Stressors………………………………………………………… Social Stressors…………………………………………………………. Chemical Stressors……………………………………………………… Work Stressors………………………………………………………….. Physical Stressors……………………………………………………….. Coping Mechanisms…………………………………………………….. Level of Flexibility……………………………………………………… Improving Communications…………………………………………….. Journal Writing………………………………………………………….. Gentle Compromise……………………………………………………… Keep time for yourself…………………………………………………… Practice Imperfection…………………………………………………….. Cognitive Restructuring………………………………………………….. CHAPTER 3 MYTHS ABOUT STRESS
4 5 5 5 5 5 5 7 7 7 8 8 9 9 9
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5
Greatest stress comes from overwork ……………………………………. Stress is more associated with overwork than under-work………………. Enjoying work can enable a person to work long and hard……………… Stress is personal and not related to organization………………………… Vigorous exercise can reduce stress……………………………………….
11 12 12 13 13
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page 3.6 3.7 3.8 Top management people experience more stress…………………………. 13 Stress is always bad……………………………………………………….. 14 Suffering from stress is a sign of weakness……………………………… 14 CHAPTER 4 4.1 BIOLOGICAL PROCESS OF STRESS
Biological Process………………………………………………………… 16
CHAPTER 5 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4
STRESS AND HEALTH 19 20 20 21
Cardiovascular Ailments…………………………………………………. Immune related disorders………………………………………………… Nervous system disorders………………………………………………… Cancer ……………………………………………………………………. CHAPTER 6 STRESS AND DIET
Tips for balanced diet…………………………………………………….. 23 Stress-fighting foods……………………………………………………… 24 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER 8 SPIRITUAL QUOTIENT………………………. 28 MYTHS ABOUT SPIRITUALITY
The Myths………………………………………………………………… 32 CHAPTER 9 CHAPTER 10 UNDERSTANDING SPIRITUALITY…………. 35 SPIRITUAL GROWTH
10.1 Changing an Attitude…………………………………………………….. 41 10.1.1 Willingness………………………………………………………………. 41
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page 10.1.2 10.1.3 10.1.4 10.2 10.2.1 10.2.2 10.2.3 10.2.4 10.2.5 10.3 10.3.1 10.3.2 10.3.3 10.3.4 10.4 10.4.1 10.4.2 10.4.3 10.4.4 10.4.5 10.4.6 10.4.7 10.4.8 Watchfulness…………………………………………………………….. 41 Visualization……………………………………………………………… 41 Effort……………………………………………………………………… 42 Five Attitudes…………………………………………………………….. 42 Attitude of Kindness……………………………………………………… 42 Attitude of Mercy………………………………………………………… 43 Attitude of Compassion…………………………………………………… 43 Attitude of Forgiveness…………………………………………………… 43 Attitude of Humility and Self-Respect…………………………………… 44 Do’s and Don’ts for Spiritual seeker……………………………………… 44 Do Everything …………………………………………………………….. 44 Don’t Compromise………………………………………………………… 45 Serve Others………………………………………………………………. 45 Physical Exercise………………………………………………………….. 45 Being a Spirited Person…………………………………………………… 45 Self-Aware………………………………………………………………… 46 Purposeful………………………………………………………………… 46 Incisive…………………………………………………………………… 46 Rewarding………………………………………………………………… 46 Inventive………………………………………………………………….. 46 Transforming……………………………………………………………… 46 Evaluative…………………………………………………………………. 46 Dauntless………………………………………………………………….. 47 CHAPTER 11 11.1 11.1.1 11.1.2 11.1.3 11.1.4 11.1.5 11.1.6 11.1.7 11.2 11.2.1 11.2.2 11.2.3 11.2.4 11.2.5 11.3 SPIRITUALITY AT WORKPLACE 50 50 50 50 50 50 51 51 52 52 53 53 54 55 56
Developing a Spiritual Work place………………………………………. Provide Opportunity to be Innovative……………………………………. Respect the Employee ……………………………………………………. Share a Vision ……………………………………………………………. Encourage Communication………………………………………………. Keep Place for Some Fun………………………………………………… Be Flexible……………………………………………………………….. Sense of Control………………………………………………………….. Human Values at Work Place ……………………………………………. Truth……………………………………………………………………… Righteousness…………………………………………………………….. Love………………………………………………………………………. Peace……………………………………………………………………… Non-Violence…………………………………………………………….. Valuing Relationships …………………………………………………….
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 12 CHAPTER 13
BENEFITS OF SPIRITUALITY………………. 58 STRESS MANAGEMENT – SPIRITUAL TECHNIQUES
13.1 13.1.1 13.1.2 13.1.3 13.2
Meditation: An approach to stress management…………………………. Concentration Based Technique…………………………………………. Contemplation Based Technique………………………………………… Natural Thought Based Technique………………………………………. “Infinite-Being” Meditation Technique………………………………….. CHAPTER 14 STRESS MANAGEMENT - RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
61 62 62 62 63
14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.4.1 14.4.2 14.4.3 14.4.4
Deep Breathing Technique……………………………………………….. Progressive Muscle Relaxation…………………………………………… Guided Imagery…………………………………………………………… Massage Therapy…………………………………………………………. Scalp Massage …………………………………………………………….. Massage for Eyes…………………………………………………………. Massage for Sinus………………………………………………………… Massage for Shoulders…………………………………………………….
67 68 68 69 69 69 69 70
REFERENCES…………………………………………………………… 71 CURRICULUM VITAE…………………………………………………. 73
INTRODUCTION TO STRESS 1.1 INTRODUCTION Is it possible to have a “Stress-free” life? Is it good to have a “Stress-free” life? Each one of us ponders over these questions quite frequently. But have we really understood what stress is all about? Many of us link it with excessive work load, nagging family problems, lack of physical exercise or unhealthy food habits. Although each of the above factors is associated with stress, there is no single definition that combines all these factors together. In mechanical or technical terms, whenever some external system of forces acts on a body, it undergoes some deformation. As the body undergoes deformations, it sets up some resistance to deformation. This resistance to deformation is known as stress (Khurmi, 1998). In other words it can be understood as an inherent property of a body or material to resist the pressure or external force. Though the above concept is applicable to non-living beings, it holds equally good for human beings. There are three important words in the above concept that are closely associated with human beings viz; Inherent, Resist (Resistance), Pressure. Many definitions of stress deal with three aspects: Stimulus, Response and StimulusResponse (Cunningham, 1998). A stimulus definition treats stress as some characteristic, event or situation in the environment that in some way results in a potentially disruptive consequence. In this situation, stress is an external event as perceived. Response definition of stress suggests that there may be an internal response, which may manifest itself in a variety of visible ways. The Stimulus-Response definition suggests that stress is a consequence of the interaction between the environmental stimulus and the internal response of the individual.
Thus, in its simplest form, stress can be understood as any action or situation that upsets the body’s normal equilibrium. Today, we live in an age of anxiety. No previous age in history has included the variety and intensity of psychological pressures, demands and expectations from work and lifestyle that we experience today. Corporate downsizing, lay-offs, outsourcing, business re-engineering efforts have become common in business today. Downsizing cuts the excessive flab in an organization thereby making it lean. It becomes stressful for not only the employees who have been terminated on account of downsizing, but also for the employees who have been retained. The retained employees need to show consistent performance and produce more with less resource. This brings them into the direct spotlight of stress. They feel distressed and disenchanted. The result of this frustration due to stress can be seen in their physical health, personal relationships and family life. It is believed that one should work at ‘Preventing’ stress rather than ‘Managing’ it. However it should be noted that stress plays a vital role and is an inevitable part of human life. Aiming to prevent stress is not a realistic and desired goal. Stress and worry play an important function in our day-to-day life. Worry is a way our brain forces us to focus on important problems. A healthy dose of stress keeps us active. The challenge is not stress, but the debilitating doses of stress that are more destructive than constructive. In other words, a little bit of stress can be a good thing (Dev, 2005) Complete freedom from stress can never be a reality in personal life and definitely not in professional life. Consistent performance is a set expectation from every employee. Hence the need of the hour is to help employees manage stress effectively and more importantly create a corporate ambience that does not develop any other internal strain in the organization. It is also possible to create such an ambience which infuses a healthy and positive energy in the work place. Some of the ways to do this is to control extended working hours, improve the quality of workplace benefits such as meals, recreation, break-out areas and introduce the concept of spirituality at work place.
Another key aspect of stress reduction is ensuring that employees and managers are provided with the skills and tools needed to perform their roles successfully. Emphasis on skills such as time-management, effective listening, handling a difficult discussion, situational leadership equips employees with the confidence to maintain a positive work environment and reduce anxiety in new and unfamiliar situations.
STRESS TRIGGERS AND COPING MECHANISMS As mentioned in the earlier chapter stress is an inevitable part of human life. In fact it’s a necessary part of life. Stress symptoms such as rapid heart beat, sweating and feeling fearful are basic survival reactions that signal people to pause and think about their situation. People need to be aware that managing stress depends about their ability to recognize their specific reactions and situations that trigger them. Some situations are stressful to almost everyone, for example, if they involve a major disruption or physical danger. But others are surprisingly individual. A tight project deadline will give one person nightmares while another enjoys the adrenaline rush. What upsets one person may not upset another. This differentiation is because of the fact that each human being is unique. Each of us has different set of belief and value systems. Each one of us has different perception towards the same situation. Hence the stress triggers (stressors) are bound to be different for each one of us. In order to be happy and contended, we need to have control on our emotional reactions. We can feel more in control of emotional reactions, if we identify our stress triggers or stressors. Hence it becomes imperative to identify our stressors and learn some of the basic mechanisms to cope with it. 2.1 STRESS TRIGGERS As discussed above, a certain situation can cause stress to an individual, but might not at all affect other person. Hence it becomes evident that there can be a number of stressors, causing stress to different individuals. These stressors can be usually classified as mentioned below (Burrows, 2006).
2.1.1 Emotional Stressors: These are the internal stressors which include fear and anxiety, as well as certain personality traits that can cloud your thinking or perceptions of others. There stressors are very individual. 2.1.2 Family Stressors: These stressors are due to family reactions. These can include changes in relationship with spouse, financial problems, and relationship with aging parents or growing kids. 2.1.3 Social Stressors: These stressors arise due to our interactions within our personal community. They can include parties, public speaking and social gathering. These stressors are also very individual. 2.1.4 Chemical Stressors: These stressors are any drugs a person abuses such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine or tranquilizers. 2.1.5 Work Stressors: These are caused by the pressures of performance at workplace. They may include tight deadlines, unpredictable boss, unrealistic commitments, fear of unemployment and consistent adherence to expected performance. 2.1.6 Physical Stressors: These are the situations that overtax your body, such as working long hours without sleep or depriving yourself of healthy and nutritious food.
The various situations that induce stress in a person fall under one or more of the above categories. Reducing the strength of these stressors is a more viable option than eliminating them. However, in order to reduce their strength, these stressors need to be identified first. One of the most common methods to identify the stressors is through self-interrogation. An individual can ask as many questions as possible to himself/herself in order to exactly pin point the stressors. The questions mentioned below can be looked upon as guideline to help an individual identify the stressors. Further appropriate and pertinent questions can be added to the list below, but this exhaustive list should be enough to begin with (Thejendra, 2008) 1) Are the job requirements absolutely clear in real world terms for what you are trying to do, or expected of you? 2) Do you have the necessary tools, knowledge, resources, staffing, training and budgets to do what you are trying to do? 3) Are the timeframes realistic for whatever you are trying to do, or are you chasing artificial deadlines? 4) Are you working in a humorless department or organization? 5) Are you generally short tempered by nature? Do you habitually get flared up over trivial workplace issues? 6) Is it a specific colleague who is the cause for your stress, or is somebody constantly breathing down your neck? 7) Is somebody’s short temper and irrational behavior preventing you from doing or saying the right things? 8) Is a corporate rumor about getting fired, downsizing causing stress? 9) Are you getting the required help from your colleagues and other departments? Are you trying to tackle things that are not in your control? 10) Is the work you are doing really difficult, or are you just dealing with difficult and irrational bosses who create panic and terror to cover up their inadequacies? 11) Is your life controlled by emails, mobiles, phones, blogs, laptops and other electronic gadgets? 12) Are you working in badly managed project? Is everything in your organization or department urgent and chaotic due to poor planning, an impatient boss etc.? 13) Are you taking care of your health and rest properly? Are you getting your eight hours of calm sleep daily? 14) Are you trying to please or seek admiration from everyone? 15) Are family problems interfering your work? Are work problems causing strain in family life? 16) Are you bad at time management? Are there too many things that need your attention? Can you ignore or eliminate the unnecessary ones? 17) Do you have too much or too less work? Very less work can also create anxiety about the continuity of your job.
Precision questions like above can often provide the key to unlock our unlimited potential and pin point the exact cause of our stress. After identifying the stress triggers through above questions, eliminating or reducing their strength would depend upon the precision answers to the above questions, and the solutions or specific actions that can be taken to reduce them. 2.2 COPING MECHANISMS Based on the answers to the above questions, following guidelines can help to cope with the induced stress. The change would not be seen overnight, but gradually there would be a positive outcome. These coping mechanisms can work as stand alone solutions or they can be used in conjunction with others (Burrows, 2006) 2.2.1 Level of Flexibility: Being too rigid or stubborn causes conflict problems and ultimately stress. We all need to stand our ground on certain issues but we also have areas of our life where we could be more flexible. It’s necessary to understand that your way is not always the right way and that other people may be just as effective doing things their way. Recognizing how you can be more flexible takes a conscious effort and lots of practice. 2.2.2 Improving Communications: Improved communication is one of the methods for coping with stress. Poor communication causes misunderstandings which are the root cause of a growing number of problems at workplace. When conflict arises, search for a common ground; share your ideas and your emotions. Communication problems are often caused because tone is non-existent in e-mails. E-mail tone is just one source of miscommunication. We write with tone but often don’t proofread e-mails to remove things that could be misinterpreted. People often don’t understand what other people’s objectives are in a given situation. Taking time to understand what other people want to get out of a conversation can help you avoid the stress of communication problems.
2.2.3 Journal Writing: There is evidence that writing about stressful events and circumstances help to relieve stress. Write for 10 to 15 minutes a day about stressful events and look for typical stress reactions such as irritability, tiredness, sleeplessness, increase in heart rate, increased perspiration etc. Maintaining such a journal allows you to gauge how much pressure you are under and what effect it’s having on you. Before you start writing, spend a few minutes with your eyes closed, trying to get in touch with all the feelings you have at the moment. Are you angry? Tired? Relaxed? Sad? Open your eyes and write down all the feelings that come to your mind. Describe the day’s events. Write about what led you to have the feelings you have now. This might clue you into some of the reasons you feel stressed. List any worries you have in the back of your mind. Getting it down on paper, would provide a hint. Try writing a note of encouragement to yourself. Writing to yourself as though you were writing to a dear friend who needs cheering up can be an effective way to give yourself the support and caring you may be lacking. Try to see your journal-writing time as positive way to let go off the day’s stress. Do not look upon it as another daily chore. 2.2.4 Gentle Compromise: Many stressful situations – even those that can’t be entirely eliminated – can be eased through negotiation. For example, if you are suffering because your boss is keeping you at work until all hours of the night, try to work out a plan that suits both your needs. Suggest that you are happy to work late one or two nights a week, as long as you can go home on time for rest of the days. By doing so you are not getting rid of these stressors but you are reducing their strength. A gentle compromise does not mean that you need to compromise on your values or ethics, but it means that you can negotiate on other things which do not jeopardize your principles or ethics.
2.2.5 Keep time for yourself: Feeling stressed is a strong signal from your subconscious mind that something is wrong in your life. Somehow you are not getting your needs met. More than likely, you are devoting more time to work, meeting other people’s needs or dealing with a troubled situation than taking good care of yourself. Even if you must continue to over extend yourself for a certain length of time, it’s important to make space for yourself in your busy schedule. This can be achieved by making sure that you have not filled your day completely with the tasks at hand. Leave one hour of time unscheduled every weekday and two or more hours a day on weekends. Make it a rule and live by it. Everyone needs a little time off. Use this time to do relaxing activities like meditation, reading, painting etc. 2.2.6 Practice Imperfection: Trying to be perfect can add greatly to your stress level. If you feel that you have to accomplish everything perfectly, you are sure to feel a lot of pressure. Practicing imperfection does not suggest you to purposely mess up important projects or deadlines, but simply that you give a break to yourself once in a while. For example, when you are really overwhelmed, reschedule an appointment or try to rework a deadline. The reduction in your stress level will make you even more productive when you get a chance to take care of what you have put off. 2.2.7 Cognitive Restructuring: Most of the stress induced in a human body can be reduced or eliminated by encouraging positive thoughts and behavior. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is one such tool that can enhance positive thoughts and behavior. CBT basically deals with substituting negative, selfdefeating thoughts with positive, affirming thoughts and changing perceptions of stressors from threatening to non-threatening. CBT approach emphasizes that emotion such as anxiety result from our perception of the situation in which anxiety arises. In other words, it is the meanings which individuals attach to conversations, actions and events which cause them anxiety. Individual meanings arise from previously learned assumptions, past events in that person’s life, attitudes and biological factors as they relate to the current situation. These are termed as ‘underlying beliefs’. 9
These underlying beliefs can be used to serve us. One way of helping people develop more positive thoughts and behaviors is to challenge the underlying beliefs which determine negative thoughts and actions. Each one of us has a constant internal monologue (self-talk) within over selves. If this self-talk is based on negative thoughts or emotions, the outcome is negative. Hence it is necessary to challenge these negative thoughts or emotions which grow from irrational belief system. Thus, the first step in mastering stress is for an individual to alter their perception to the causes of stress. Positive change can occur by persuading people to abandon self-destructive beliefs which serve to maintain and reinforce negative thinking and behavior. An individual needs to understand that stress is not induced because of an action / event, but because of our perception towards that action / event. Sartre, the French existentialist has stated, “One freedom that could never be taken away from an individual is the freedom to choose how to react to a situation. Our reaction to something is our choosing” (Falkner, 2006) According to Stephen Covey, author of the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, with practice we can learn to watch our reactions to certain stimuli and have power over our stress. The more we can observe our reaction and then our predicted reaction, and make a choice, the more we can be a powerful instigator in our life and less of a victim. Apart from the various coping mechanisms explained above, hobbies, prayer, spirituality, humor and art can be looked upon as some other techniques to cope with stress. By learning these coping mechanisms to manage stress, our personal and work lives will benefit a great deal. Our personal and work lives often overlap. Events at work can impact home life and problems at home can certainly affect the performance at work. People need resources to help them identify the role of stress in their lives and develop coping mechanisms. Finding what causes stress is only half the battle. Learning how to cope is the key. Some people consult a therapist, some people just live with stress and others choose to manage it. However, most people would like to eliminate stress completely. But without some amount of stress we would view our lives as unexciting. We do want stress levels to remain manageable.
MYTHS ABOUT STRESS We all have firmly held beliefs about those people who are more prone to stress. We also have a certain perception or understanding of stress in our ways. But understanding the correct meaning of stress and its cause and effects is very important for everyone. Although it is true that stress is multifaceted problem affected by diet, personality, working conditions, lifestyle and individual perceptions, many people hold different views about it. Hence it is important to correctly interpret the common beliefs about stress and rectify the myths associated with concept of stress. Our popular impressions about stress may need to be changed. We should not have any fixed ideas about what it takes to improve our ability to respond to the stress we face, just as there are no fixed characteristics for people in general. Following are some of the popular beliefs about stress and their possible re-interpretation (Cunningham, 1998): 3.1 GREATEST STRESS COMES FROM OVERWORK: Over work or work load is definitely one of the reasons causing stress. However, it is not the only stressor at work. The magnitude of stress due to interpersonal conflict and not doing fulfilling work for some people can be more dramatic than the stress due to overwork. The stress of too much work can cause emotional and mental paralysis, or an inability to carry out the work. There are two different types of overload: Quantitative and Qualitative. Quantitative overload exists when people perceive that they have too much of work to do, or insufficient time to complete the assigned tasks. Qualitative overload on the other hand, occurs when people feel that they lack the ability, training or education to complete their jobs or that the performance standards are too high, regardless of how well they perform or how much time they have. A person may also experience stress from being improperly trained or feeling incapable of carrying out work assignments.
Poor interpersonal relations and conflicts are the greatest sources of stress in workplace for some people. People use terms such as dishonest, self-serving, back stabbing, political and selfish to describe others indicating the feelings of frustration and discouragement leading to stress. Trust is an important factor at workplace to minimize stressful experiences. It implies accountability, predictability and reliability and helps in maintaining organizational integrity. Another factor producing workplace stress is not doing fulfilling work. People experience stress when they believe that their jobs are meaningless or have little significance. People who identify themselves with their job are more prone to stress, if they fail to get recognition based on their job. 3.2 STRESS IS MORE ASSOCIATED WITH OVERWORK THAN UNDERWORK: Every human-being needs a certain level of stimulation from the environment which is neither too low nor too high. In case of under stimulation, we become mentally impoverished, bored and alienated. Our tension level goes down; we become easily distracted and lose initiative and capacity for involvement. Monotonous, primitive, simple uncomplicated tasks tend to produce boredom and feelings of sleepiness. This is “Rust-out” characterized by boredom, fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction. Skills attitudes and ideas are not fully utilized and they become obsolete or routine, leaving people with little or nothing to do. “Burn-out” is caused by the long lasting effects of prolonged stress and feeling overloaded and unable to cope. Over stimulation can also be one of the reasons for burn-out. The person cannot carry out his/her activities and feels exhausted and without energy. In case of over stimulation, the effects may be fragmentation of thought and loss of integrating ability. Thus, both over-work and under-work have negative implications and stress is therefore associated with both. 3.3 ENJOYING WORK CAN ENABLE A PERSON TO WORK LONG AND HARD: Although it may be more enjoyable to perform activities that are challenging and interesting, it can still produce several negative consequences on one’s health and well-being. Enjoying one’s work may blind people to the fact that it can cause tremendous stress, just like 12
punishing the body through physical exertion and forcing it to work beyond its limits. Many people who enjoy their work ignore and underestimate the importance of keeping an even balance between work and non-work activities. 3.4 STRESS IS PERSONAL AND NOT RELATED TO ORGANIZATION: Although stress is related to an individual it has its effect on the organization as a whole. Individuals can experience a range of stress related illness such as hypertension, headaches and heart attacks. Added to this are frustrations and intense emotions caused by stressful experiences. Stress is linked to high absenteeism, lost productivity, poor decision making and low morale of employees which normally affects the organization. The cost associated with stress runs in millions of rupees for organizations. Hence the costs of stress are more than personal. 3.5 VIGOROUS EXERCISE CAN REDUCE STRESS: Keeping in physical shape is an important antidote to stress related problems, but is no cure. If it is combined with proper diet and other aids, it can reduce the possibility of damage. Exercise can increase a person’s capacity to handle stress, as it increases the flow of oxygen throughout the body and increases a person’s stamina. While moderate exercise makes it easier for people to do much more work, excessive exercise may actually cause serious damage. Certain competitive sports like squash, boxing and wrestling increase rather than reduce stress. 3.6 TOP MANAGEMENT PEOPLE EXPERIENCE MORE STRESS: Stress knows no boundaries of organizational hierarchy. People at various levels of hierarchy are stressed to various extents. It would be unfair to say that people at higher or managerial levels are more stressed than the people of lower cadre. In fact it can be argued in a diagonally opposite way that people at top level would be comparatively less stressed. People at top level or senor position have more command over the work. They can control the volume of work they generate and the time when they do it. People at the bottom of the hierarchy are assigned tasks by others. They have less control and command on the tasks 13
assigned to them. The inability to control is one of the variables to cause stress and hence the people at bottom of hierarchy may experience more stress. Middle managers may be more stressed because they play a buffer role in the relationship between top managers and lower-level supervisors. They need to interface, coordinate and anticipate events or problems. They are often in ambiguous situations and have little responsibility or control. All positions in an organization have a higher potential for stress, if they are so designed that people have little control over their work or if their tasks are ambiguous and poorly defined. 3.7 STRESS IS ALWAYS BAD: According to this view, zero stress makes us happy and healthy. This indeed is a classic case of misconception of stress. Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life (Miller, 2007; Smith, 2007). The issue, really, is how to manage it. Managed stress makes us productive and happy; mismanaged stress hurts and even kills us. 3.8 SUFFERING FROM STRESS IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS: Anyone can suffer from stress. It all depends on the circumstances we are in at the time. Many people think that if they admit to experiencing stress, it’s a sign of failure, weakness or ineptitude. An individual working in an organization where there are imminent redundancies, for example, may well seek to cover up any sign of stress in the belief that they may be viewed as unable to cope with their job and might therefore be regarded as expendable. Many employees are also wary of any mention of stress being noted on their work record in case it might prejudice their chances of promotion, and so avoid discussing the problem with colleagues. This is why it’s so important that the workplace culture embraces the notion that to be stressed occasionally is a normal human condition, and that to admit to it - initially to yourself - is the first step in modifying the situation or meeting the challenge
Apart from the myths mentioned above, there are many other myths that surround the concept of stress. Because stress is so common, it often comes up in conversation, and many ideas about stress are passed around. Some of these ideas about stress are accurate, and some are myths. When dealing with stress, the more you understand the better. Hence it's best to have all the facts so you can maximize your health and are in a better position to deal with it. Clarifying the myths associated with stress would enable an individual to have a control over him/her and in turn help in creating a convenient atmosphere for themselves and others to work and live in.
BIOLOGICAL PROCESS OF STRESS When stresses pile one on top of other, they are more than additive – they seem to multiply the sense of stress, so that as we near the breaking point, each additional burden seems all the more unbearable. A stress process is actually a series of steps that leads a person to an unhealthy state. There are various physiological changes that occur within a body when faced by a stressful situation. These changes that occur within a body are explained in detail by renowned author, Daniel Goleman, in his books ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’. 4.1 BIOLOGICAL PROCESS The conventional view in neuroscience had been that the eye, ear and other sensory organs transmit signals to the hypothalamus (present in the brain area) and from there to the sensory processing areas of neocortex, where the signals are put together into objects as we perceive them. The signals are sorted for meanings, so that the brain recognizes what each object is and what its presence means. From neocortex the signals are sent to the limbic brain and the rest of the body. There is also a smaller bundle of neurons that leads directly from the hypothalamus to the amygdala, in addition to those passing through the larger path of neurons to the cortex. The amygdala is an almond shaped cluster of interconnected structures perched above the brainstem, near the bottom of the limbic ring. Amygdala is the specialist for emotional matters. If the amygdala is severed from rest of the body, the result is a striking inability to gauge the emotional significance of the events. It acts as a storehouse of emotional memory. The smaller bundle of neurons that leads from hypothalamus to amygdala allows the amygdala to receive some direct inputs from the senses and start a response before they are fully registered by the neocortex. The amygdala can trigger an emotional response via this
emergency route even as a parallel reverberating circuit begins between the amygdala and neocortex. When the amygdala is triggered by an event, it induces a cascade that begins with the release of flood of stress hormones, mainly cortisol. The hormones we secrete under stress are enough for a single bout of fight or flight – but once secreted, they stay in the body for hours and each successive upsetting incident adds more stress hormones to the already existing ones. This mobilization draws on the body’s energy reserves and digestive processes while blood is diverted to the needed areas. The body mobilizes its various systems, especially the brain, nervous system and endocrine system in response to stress. When we perceive a stressful situation, a message is transmitted to the neocortex. The hypothalamus responds to the messages from neocortex by registering emotions such as fear or anger and it is involved in raising the body’s temperature and controlling appetite and sexual behavior. In the stress response the hypothalamus triggers the nervous and endocrine systems. The nervous system controls gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and reproductive activities. When we experience stress, the hypothalamus stimulates the nervous system to respond. A person’s heart rate may increase, and he/she may sweat or feel tense in his/her stomach (Goleman, 1999). In response, the endocrine system allows the release of various hormones into blood. The pituitary gland discharges hormones into the blood stream that activate the other parts of endocrine system and prepare the body to deal with the stressors. As a result, blood flow and respiration may increase. The adrenal glands produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol that increase a person’s stamina and muscular tension. The length of time that the body can continue to supply adrenaline and other hormones is limited – these hormones get depleted. The adrenaline acts on muscles and fat tissues, causing them to release various chemicals they store. The liver subsequently converts these chemicals into glucose, which is usually directed by the heart and other organs as and energy source. The digestive process ceases, and blood is diverted to assist the muscles and brain. Effects include increase in respiration,
heart rate, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and decrease in digestive processes while blood is diverted to the needed areas. In addition, energy is mustered from the release of such products as glycogen and lipoproteins (Cunningham, 1998). Apart from these physiological changes, there are a number of other factors that ultimately leads to our feeling emotionally and/or physically ill. These various factors together form a stress process. However, it should be noted that we can interrupt this stress process at any point to help reduce the stress and its negative impact. The basic steps in the process of stress development are: Preconditions, Situation, Interpretation, Emotional arousal, Physiological arousal and Consequence. The “Preconditions” are those things within ourselves that are already in place when we experience a situation. This includes our genes, past experiences, current health, etc. The “Situation” is what has actually occurred. We are frequently unaware of what actually occurred because our preconditions make each of us experience things a little differently than others. “Interpretation” is what we believe about the situation. Since different people see things differently, their beliefs will be different. “Emotional Arousal” is our emotional response to our beliefs about the situation. A negative belief triggers increases in frustration, anger, fear, etc. A positive belief can trigger excitement, joy, anticipation, etc. “Physiological Arousal” is when our hormone levels change, resulting in muscle tension, heart rate acceleration, etc as already discussed above. Whether the emotional arousal is positive or negative, the physical response is essentially the same. “Consequences” are what happens to our physical and emotional health as a result of the preceding factors. If the factors are sustained long enough or are overwhelming, the consequences are typically negative; the person experiencing the situation may become physically or emotionally ill. This is when the person’s preconditions have an additional effect. If the person is robust, he or she may be able to weather the physiological arousal fairly well. If not, they may become ill more quickly or more severely (Hodgson, 1983)
STRESS AND HEALTH Stress and health are closely linked. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity” (Cunningham, 1998). The stress, either quick or constant, can induce risky body-mind disorders. The stress in any form can cause a basket full of physical disorders, apart from several emotional disorders. On a daily basis, we encounter a range of stressful events. Some may be for shorter duration – like sitting next to a smoker or listening to a loud music. Others may be for longer duration – like grievance at workplace or nagging family members. Chronic stress situations are those that last for weeks, months or even years. These may be the death of loved ones, divorce, prolonged illness, unhealthy diet, etc. it is these chronic stress reactions that are most damaging to health. These stress reactions affect our immune, cardiovascular and nervous system (Cunningham, 1998). 5.1 CARDIOVASCULAR AILMENTS: Prolonged or habitual exposure to stressful conditions gives rise to a number of cardiovascular diseases including, cardiac arrhythmia (eccentric or neurotic heartbeat), angina pectoris (sharp stabbing pain in the chest), and myocardial infarction (death of heart tissue). The most common stressful conditions giving rise to cardiovascular diseases are working hard and being dissatisfied with work, not appreciated by superiors, enduring interpersonal difficulties at workplace and threat of unemployment. The stress responses of our body delays the processing and clearance of harmful fats like low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and other lipid types such as triglycerides, which are developed under stressful conditions. The accumulation of these fats puts people at risk of developing arteriosclerosis and other heart ailments.
Even physical cause of stress such as vigorous physical activity and exercises can place demands on the heart muscle. Due to this the coronary artery gets very low amount of oxygen due to reduced amount of blood flow. This condition of the heart muscle can cause chest pain or complete damage to the cardiac muscle resulting in heart attack. 5.2 IMMUNE RELATED DISORDERS: Stress is known to worsen many immune related, medical conditions. The immune system of a person protects him/her from infections. People who are overworked or stressed out are easily vulnerable to infections. Under stressful conditions, the body produces excessive amount of cortisol or hydro corticoids. These elements suppress the body’s immune response and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. Many studies suggest that frequent or chronic stress conditions increase the chances of bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and group-A streptococcal diseases (GAS) (Cunningham, 1998). Though most of the GAS infections are relatively mild ailments such as throat infection skin allergies, on rare occasions it can even cause severe and terminal illness. Attacks of flu, pneumonia and common cold are also directly related to stressful life conditions. Stressful situations can also make the air-passage in an asthma patient to be overreactive and precipitate an attack. 5.3 NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS: Severe stress conditions reduce the blood supply to stomach, thereby causing hindrance in the normal digestive functions. Since the function of intestine is controlled by nervous system, a stressful situation that affects the nervous system can also propagate its impact on the functions of intestine. These conditions can lead to gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome. Other impact of stress is the pain in the lower-back, muscles and neck. A stressful event can induce muscular tension which causes a disturbance in adrenal gland’s production of
cortisone. The common types of diseases related to muscular-skeletal system are Rheumatoid arthritis, gout and bursitis. 5.4 CANCER: Various life events, personality dispositions and work environment affect our immunological and central nervous system and accelerate the development of various types of cancer. Many studies and medical literature can provide evidence that cancer may be linked to the emotional experiences a person might have. Life disasters, such as loss of dear ones, or other traumatic events, which induce unbearable stress in a person can be associated with the development of certain types of cancer. Although smoking, food habits and life-style are the major culprits for causing cancer, the emotional experiences as a cause of cancer cannot be ignored. Some medical studies have found that the rate of tumor growth is associated with personality traits. A person’s attitude towards life, belief system, life style etc, are powerful factors affecting the growth of tumor and also recovery. Cancer is prevalent in industrial societies with western style habits and foods and in areas where, poverty, crowded housing, divorce and fragmented families are common. In a nutshell, stress has a major impact on cardiovascular ailments such as heart disease, stroke and hypertension. It affects the digestive system through colitis and diabetes. It also has an impact on immunological, skeletal-muscular system and other respiratory ailments. Apart from the physical illness, stress has a major impact on the emotional and physiological aspects of our life. Disturbance of emotional and physiological systems leads to anger and frustration which makes a person incapable of rational responses and good judgment. It results in alcohol or drug abuse, impaired relationships, sleep disorders, disturbance in thought process and concentration, behavioral disruptions and occupational burn-out. Emotional disturbances are reflected mainly through two channels viz; anxiety and depression. Anxiety leads to disturbances like, heavy breathing, depressed feeling, headaches, 21
trembling, nausea, neck pain, diarrhea etc. Depression is characterized by decrease in energy, lack of motivation, loss of interest, difficulty with concentration, inability to handle responsibilities etc. Thus, it is seen that stress and health are closely linked. At workplace it is just not the physical health of an employee that needs to be taken into account, but the emotional state also needs to be taken care off. The concept of medical benefits does not extend to emotional needs. It is a critical requirement because stress is high in our lives in these times. The increase in life style diseases like heart attacks is a direct fall out of stress and strain. So it is very evident that our mental health needs care too. Stress acts like a dragon that threatens our health and life in general.
STRESS AND DIET Today work schedules can be counter productive to proper nutrition as well only adding to the natural stress of the workplace itself. A busy schedule, time deadlines and expectations to meet, meetings over the lunch hour all have a cumulative effect on our level of stress and make it difficult to break the stress cycle. Although there are many ways to cope, one strategy is to eat “stress-fighting” foods. Hence, we need to make a commitment to engage in a healthy nutritious lifestyle and understand the relationship between stress and diet. A lot of literature is available which indicates a close relationship between stress and diet. For example, serotonin is a chemical present in the brain that promotes calmness (Foster, 2003). If your diet contains foods with this compound or includes foods that assists the brain in producing it; you have an edge over stress. A cause and effect relationship between serotonin and stress relief may not be noticed immediately, because the increase in serotonin levels takes several minutes to take effect, but it lasts for several hours. The levels of serotonin are generally higher in the morning, but tend to decrease by the late afternoon. One can try to maintain this level by adjusting the eating habits accordingly. A healthy late afternoon snack for example can help stimulate serotonin and get a person energized and calm. 6.1 TIPS FOR BALANCED DIET Due to the increased stress levels at work and home, it is really important to build some structure in the eating habits. Few simple rules can help to have a balanced diet and reduce the probability of increasing the unwanted stress levels. Eat at least three meals a day, with a few simple snacks. Although it may seem like a good idea to eat less often to lose weight, skipping meals too often and eating too little food actually stresses your body and mind more and reduces your energy when you need it most.
Develop a routine where you don’t have to make too many extra decisions. Space your meals and snacks out about every three to four hours. Eat smaller meals and snacks more often. If you have a hectic schedule or stress makes you feel hurried, you might either skip the meals or eat while doing other things like driving, walking etc. This can lead to overeating, simply because you don’t realize how much you have eaten because of the distractions. Hectic meals can lead to poor digestion, poor food choices and feeling bad – which mean more stress. A well balanced diet is crucial in preserving health and helping to reduce stress. Certain food and drinks act as powerful stimulants to the body and hence are a direct cause of stress. These are the foods and drinks that we need to make conscious efforts to avoid. 6.2 STRESS-FIGHTING FOODS There are certain other foods that can fight stress in several ways. Comfort foods, like a bowl of warm oatmeal, actually boost levels of serotonin. They also reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline that take a toll on the body over time. Few foods, among the host of them, are discussed below which act as stress busters. A regular intake of these foods helps to fight stress in long run (Nazario, 2008). Carbohydrates trigger release of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which soothes the body. Carbohydrates stabilize blood sugar levels and are also digested slowly. Good sources of carbohydrates include rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, whole-grain breakfast, cereals and oatmeal. A high fiber diet helps to keep the digestive system in order which might go for a toss under the influence of stress because of cramps and constipation. Fruits, vegetables and grains are excellent sources of fiber. Fruits instead of fruit juice would be more beneficial, accompanied by whole-grain cereals and fiber fortified muffins at breakfast.
Regular intake of vegetables increases the brain’s serotonin production. This increase is due to improved absorption of the amino acid L-Tryptophan. Crunchy raw vegetables can also fight the effects of a stress in a purely mechanical way. Munching celery or carrot sticks helps release a clenched jaw and that can ward off tension headaches. Among fruits, Oranges have abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in reducing the levels of stress hormones while strengthening the immune system. Spinach has abundant magnesium. Magnesium helps regulate cortisol levels. Too little magnesium may trigger headaches and fatigue, compounding the effects of stress. Even cooked soybeans, fillet of salmon are good source of magnesium. In non-vegetarian food category, Fatty fish keeps a check on cortisol and adrenaline. Omega3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones and protect against heart disease. Black tea helps to recover from stressful events more quickly. Black tea helps in reducing the levels of cortisol. Coffee on other hand can boost levels of cortisol. Pistachios can soften the impact stress hormones have on the body. Adrenaline raises blood pressure and gets the heart racing under stress. Eating a handful of pistachios everyday can lower blood pressure, so it won’t spike as high when the adrenaline rush comes. However, since pistachios also generate heat in the body, it is advisable to keep the pistachios soaked in water overnight and have them the early morning next day. One of the best ways to reduce high blood pressure is to get enough potassium – and half an avocado has more potassium than a medium sized banana. Almonds are chock full of helpful vitamins. It contains vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus a range of B vitamins, which may make the body more resilient during bouts of stress. Carbohydrates at bedtime can speed the release of serotonin and help in getting a better sleep. Heavy meals before bed can trigger heart burn, hence sticking to something light like toast 25
and jam is advisable. Another bedtime stress buster is the time-honored glass of warm milk. Calcium in the milk can reduce muscle spasms and soothe tension, as well as easing anxiety and mood swings linked to pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Thus, it can be seen that there are host of foods that helps to fight the stressful situations and also prevent them. However, there are also certain types of foods which have a direct negative impact on the body, which in turn aggravates the stress levels. Unfortunately, these foods have become a regular norm in our daily lives today. Many lifestyle food habits have become so common in today’s scenario, that we normally overlook the harmful effects of these foods on our health in long run. Many people consume such foods either because they are easily available or they are very tempting. The stimulation caused by these foods is although quite pleasurable in the short term, they are equally harmful in the long run. Fried foods and foods rich in fat are very immune depressing, especially when stress is doing that as well. Animal foods (meat, chicken etc) are high protein foods that elevate brain levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, both of which are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress. These are the foods that have to be avoided at all cost. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are also to be avoided. Caffeine found in coffee, tea, chocolate, coke etc causes the release of adrenaline, thus increasing the level of stress. When taken in moderation, coffee can increase alertness, increase activity in muscles, nervous system and heart. However, consuming too much caffeine has the same effect as long term stress. Alcohol, if taken in moderation, acts as a very useful drug (many of allopathic medicines use alcohol). The irony is that most people take to drinking as way to combat stress. Alcohol and stress, in combination are quite deadly. Alcohol stimulates the secretion of adrenaline resulting in the problems such as nervous tension, irritability and insomnia. Excess alcohol will increase the fat deposits in the heart and decrease the immune function. Alcohol also limits the ability of lever to remove toxins from the body. During stress, the body produces several toxins such as hormones. In the absence of its filtering by the liver, these toxins continue to circulate through the body resulting in serious damage. 26
Another ingredient that needs to be reduced in our daily consumption of food is sugar. Sugar has no essential nutrients. It provides a short term boost of energy through the body, resulting possibly in the exhaustion of the adrenal glands. This can result in irritability, poor concentration and depression. Salt is an essential ingredient of all the food that we consume. However, it increases the blood pressure; deplete adrenal glands and causes emotional instability. It is advisable to use a salt substitute that has potassium rather than sodium. It can be seen from above theory that stress and diet have a close relationship. The type of food we consume greatly affects our stress levels, either in a positive or negative way. A nutritious diet, however, can counteract the impact of stress, by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It helps to keep a check on the adrenaline and cortisol levels and enhance the production of serotonin. Stress being an inevitable part of our life, it needs to be dealt with properly. A great way to deal with stress is to have a combination of exercise with a proper diet. Such a combination makes for a great defense against the onset of chronic stress. A person might not have much control over the external events that cause stress, but he/she definitely has a lot of control over his/her reactions to them, including how much and what they choose to eat. Apart from diet, exercise and relaxation techniques, a spiritual approach to manage stress would be a phenomenal antidote. Spiritual approach basically deals with understanding oneself and having unconditional love for others. It makes us to think ourselves as an expression of higher reality. It relates to transcending man-made mental barriers like prejudices, ego, and dislikes which are exactly the problems we are trying to get rid-off in the present conditions. In the succeeding chapters, I have attempted to create awareness about spirituality, its importance at workplace and the way it can be used to combat stress.
Robert F. Kennedy in one of his speech has said, “The gross national product of a country does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile” (Gable, 2005 and Haidt, 2005) Robert F. Kennedy’s lament about the gross national product is analogous to our lament about our situation in the present times of globalization and cut throat competition of the dogeat-dog world. Every individual is struggling today to get rid of the unwanted stress levels. The expectation from individuals have gone up sky high - top notch productivity, super intelligence, being a team player, an ability to inspire/ motivate groups of people with diverse interests, remaining calm and composed even in the most trying circumstances have become a norm. However, the so called development of the world has left individuals stressful, emotionally weak, impatient and discontented instead of helping them to do whatever they do more happily with the least of the resources. Chronic diseases like blood pressure, diabetes have become a part of progress and prosperity. A person experiences chaos wherever he/she is home, office, business - instead of creating a peaceful environment & harmony for himself/herself and everyone. All the essential virtues such as good health, a living based on potential, creativity, patience, mutual trust etc. are lost in manipulating a successful life. Most of the people are taking up various courses and learning relaxation techniques to combat stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation and yoga help to activate the relaxation response, which is a powerful antidote to stress. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in the everyday stress levels and boost the feelings of joy and serenity. But apart from the
physical ways to handle stress, it’s necessary to explore the mental or spiritual ways to handle the same. A spiritual approach would cater to an individual's overall personality which is a blend of ones Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Social, Physiological & spiritual characteristics. It can enhance the over all personality of an individual and open up various possibilities in ones life to enable oneself to live up to his/her true potential. This helps in making a person happy, joyful, peaceful, productive and prosperous. Basically stress management is a science of managing happiness. Spiritual approach ensures that the person becomes inspirational to others to do whatever is needed voluntarily, with dedication and self assumed responsibility. However, before we take a plunge into the spiritual quest of a human mind, it is necessary to understand the concepts of the first two dimensions of human mind, namely, the Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ). These two quotients are now giving way to the third dimension, Spiritual Quotient (SQ). Intelligence Quotient (IQ) was discovered in the early 20th century and is tested using the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scales. It refers to our rational, logical, rule-bound, problem solving intelligence. It is supposed to make us bright or dim. It is also a style of rational, goal-oriented thinking. IQ thinking enables us to follow rules in ways that are rational and logical. It is accurate, precise, measurable, repeatable and reliable. IQ is usually associated with high logical, strategic, mathematical and linguistic talents (Zohar, 2006). Emotional Quotient (EQ) was articulated by Daniel Goleman in mid-1990. It represents the factors that can lead to healthy relationships and the ability to respond appropriately and positively to everyday life. It is about recognizing emotions and managing them. EQ is about understanding ourselves, how we relate to others and how others perceive us. People with high EQ relate well with others, have high self-esteem and respond appropriately in a situation (Chari, 2000). However, neither IQ nor EQ, separately or in combination, is enough to explain the full complexity of human intelligence, nor the vast richness of the human soul and imagination. Computers have high IQ: they know what the rules are and can follow them without making mistakes. Animals often have high EQ: they have a sense of situation they are in and know 29
how to respond appropriately. But neither computers nor animals ask why we have these rules or this situation, or whether either could be different or better. There are so many aspects of human mental life and intelligence that no computer built, nor envisaged can replicate (Selman, 2005). This leads to the emergence of third dimension of human intelligence or a new paradigm called as Spiritual Quotient (SQ), which is related to brain, heart and soul. True happiness is actually based on contentment and this can be achieved only if one is at peace with oneself. At work this means achieving the peace of mind attained by the practice of fair and ethical means, developing meaningful relationships with people you work with, be they colleagues, client, customer or even business rivals. The sense of peace attained by such an attitude eases tensions and leads to a stress free environment which means increased productivity. Each person in an organization has a unique role to play and developing a positive attitude by neither overhauling nor underestimating yourself will go a long way in being able to deal with situation at work. In the initial days of one’s career ladder, IQ is important as it derives him/her to acquire the position he/she wants to grab in order to sustain his/her life. In the medieval period, he/she has to maintain his/her career and reach to the heights, needs to maintain his/her EQ. The period ahead of it, usually in the senior most positions, the person is required to be more complacent and motivating. He/she has to shine and set the examples before others to follow. He/she is required to develop spiritual quotient (SQ) in order to be matured, patient, organized, selfless, self-disciplined, self-motivated, self-directed and self-managed (Chari, 2000). In today’s stressful environment at work and otherwise, one has to learn good problem solving strategies. So also it makes sense to change self rather than attempting to change others or the situation. A healthy mind gives rise to a healthy body and good stress relievers like good diet, exercise, sport and humor go a long way in increasing one’s capacity to work better.
Thus, while IQ is about, knowing your work, EQ is about tolerance and sharing and SQ is about fair play and caring. It is a combination of all three that is the winning formula. To be completely successful in workplace, an employee should have a balance of IQ, EQ and SQ.
MYTHS ABOUT SPIRITUALITY
Despite the promise of bliss and stress-free environment, a lot of people still choose to keep away from spirituality as it is often associated with complex, mysterious and mystical forces; forces that are irrational and that do not appeal to a scientific mind. Anything that is mystical, mythical, metaphysical or abstract gets classified under the term ‘Spirituality’, which is definitely refused to be digested by a rational mind. For instance, rituals, astrology, palmistry, Feng Shui, Vaastu, numerology, past life therapy, auras etc. get classified under the term spirituality. As a result, modern, scientific person, who is intrigued by the realm of spirituality, abstains from taking the plunge by concluding that ‘Spirituality is not my cup of tea’. Thus, even before exploring any further what spirituality is really all about, scores of people dump it aside as something not meant for them. 8.1 THE MYTHS Often the word ‘Spiritual’ invokes concepts of religion and religious belief systems and dogmas, which for some, can trigger feelings of aversion. So it is important to clarify the myth that ‘religion and spirituality are same’. Religion in an organized sense tends to encourage the individual to attach to a packaged set of externally prescribed beliefs, whereas spirituality tends to encourage detachment from all beliefs and use the practice of a meditative and reflective process to reveal and realize what is true. Religion offers many beautiful things like rituals and ceremonies, but it is not spirituality. Spirituality has no borders or restraints; it doesn’t separate, it connects. Religion is something that has been handed down to an individual. An individual may choose to apply some of the values in the life and life might become more spiritual. But it is something external, whereas spirituality is within an individual (Miller, 2006). All of the different religions have their own belief systems and they do cross over each other. While in spirituality there is no belief system. Spirituality talks about ultimate truth. One must realize it, understand it and feel it.
Another way of looking at spirituality is that it is the thread that holds together the pearls of the world’s religions. At their purest, religions are intended to evoke the spirituality in each of us. Spiritual search can be based upon a religion – the practice of a religion can be formalized, structured part of one’s spiritual search. But being a part of a formalized religion is not necessary for being spiritual. People can have a spiritual search without following a religion, and can be religious without being spiritual by only participating in the social gatherings and rituals as part of their culture, without any deep search for spiritual meaning. Another myth is a very common problem of the modern day Indian society that is nothing short of blackmail. Certain unscrupulous people, who call themselves as ‘Spiritually evolved souls’ are hiding behind the garb of being evolved souls and promising miraculous cures to certain ‘‘no cure’’ diseases. All you need to do is practice certain techniques told by them; but of course a certain sum of money has to be parted with. To look for such people all you need to do is look at the newspaper ads. These are the people who have stigmatized the purity of spirituality. These are the people, because of whom many seekers of spirituality are ambiguous of treading the spiritual path and abstain from practicing spirituality. The seekers of spirituality often get confused with spirituality, superstition and black magic due to the acts of such unscrupulous people. There are definitely even in the present day world such evolved souls whose look or a touch are ‘‘miraculous’’ but we forget that people with such powers are definitely beyond the realm of the financial world. They would only indulge in such an act if it is for the betterment of the mankind. This myth can only be broken by studying the etheric world under an evolved soul and by not believing in something because we want to believe. Many people know that Spirituality is useful, yet most of them say, ‘we will undertake spiritual practice when we grow old’. But it needs to be understood that good physical and mental health is required to undertake spiritual practice. In old age since both these weaken; it becomes difficult to undertake spiritual practice. Just as it is difficult to learn any new skill in old age, so also it becomes difficult to learn and practice spirituality in old age. The number of impressions created in the subconscious mind goes on increasing with age. In Spirituality, however, one aims at eliminating all these impressions. 33
Many seekers of spirituality feel that if they want to make spiritual progress they should not get married. However this is incorrect. If one practices spirituality while living in a society, then one makes a faster spiritual progress. If one renounces the world and retires to the Himalaya Mountains, one is not tested enough unlike when living in society where one is tested at every step. There are many other myths associated with the term spirituality, which puts the seekers of spirituality in a dual mind. The need of the hour is to clean these myths and create awareness among the masses. The concept of spirituality, which is essentially creating self-awareness, self-development and personal fulfillment, needs to be propagated. A rational framework of spirituality needs to be designed, which satisfies thousands of questions and doubts faced by the seekers of spirituality.
In today’s world we are all victims of the blind and unpleasant rat race due to which majority of us is turning selfish, short visionary, inhuman and evil. We are unnecessarily compromising with our values and ethics which are required to build a strong organization, economy, nation and world for an ever-increasing growth at a lesser risk exposure. Humans are becoming greedier and impatient causing more number of frauds, sexual harassments, indiscipline and other economical, social and personal malpractices. This is the sole reason for which we require so many regulations to control the human behavior. This leads us to understand the concept of spirituality, leading to focus on two aspects; Selfdevelopment and Personal fulfillment. Spirituality or spiritual intelligence is what makes us essentially human: the ability to plan, to make sense of our emotions, to control our impulses, to make choices and endow our world with meaning. It helps us to extend and change the boundaries, question our assumptions and formulate new meaning. It motivates people to balance their work schedules and spend time with their family (Leonardi, 2007). Spirituality is an essential component of holistic approach to life. It finds expression in creativity and all art forms and is the bit that adheres together our conscious intellect and our intelligent action. Spirituality sustains us from within, when all else fails; spirituality allows us to dream, aspire and raise ourselves up. Spiritual Quotient has several facets: improving on reducing one’s ego, spirit of surrender and service to others, showing more compassion and expressing gratitude to others. In a transcendental sense, it is the fount of all other values such as honesty, truthfulness, rectitude, modesty, morality and humanity.
The transformative power of spiritual quotient is what distinguishes it from other dimensions of intelligence. It adds to our values, positive strengths and promotes right vision, ethics, approach and practices. It helps us to feel happy and satisfied in a detached way and teaches us to live a valuable and meaningful life with clarity in objectives. The development of self automatically helps to develop great human-beings with higher productivity, efficiency, concentration along with good health and behavior. The very essence of spiritual intelligence lies in its seeking a bigger and broader, ever growing perspective. It can be seen as the highest and ever-growing need in the mankind. All human-beings differ in their evolution of need and hence work at different levels of “need satisfaction”. Abraham Maslow, a great psychologist and existentialist, classified such needs in five categories in hierarchical order (Kotler, 2003).
Figure 9.1 Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The lowest needs in such hierarchy are biological, such as hunger, thirst and sex. Next are the safety needs that include security, stability and order. Then comes belongingness, such as affiliation and identification. Thereafter self-esteem needs follow that include prestige,
success and self-respect. Finally at the top in hierarchy comes the need for self-actualization that refers to a person’s need to develop his/her potentialities in whatever field he/she works. Thus, according to Maslow’s theory, a person will try to satisfy the most important need first. When a person succeeds in satisfying an important need, it will cease to be a motivator and the person will try to satisfy the next most important need. However, the theory does not say that once we arrive at a higher need level (E.g.: the need for self-actualization), we will never act or exhibit a lower need in any given situation or if we have not satisfied the lower need, we may not yearn for the higher need like self-actualization. In other words, one can thirst for spiritual knowledge or self-actualization even while one’s desires in the other three lower dimensions are not completely satiated (Gupta, 2007). For sake of curiosity, if we invert the Maslow’s grid, the grid would imply that the fulfillment of one’s spiritual need can lead to the fulfillment of all other needs. Many spiritual teachers and methods tell us that treading the right spiritual path helps one nourish and nurture all aspects of one’s existence.
Figure 9.2 Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs - Inverted
This indicates that, if a person is satisfied with the utmost need of self-actualization, he/she would not have any temptation towards the materialistic world. Although the person would still require the other needs (e.g.: Physiological needs, Social needs), but the urge to satisfy these needs would be very mild or equal to nil. Once a person has realized the concept of self-actualization, all other needs become secondary. Hence, taking a spiritual approach which introduces a person to the concept of self-actualization would make a person happy and contended at very early stages. A spiritual approach to work at workplace would make an employee more productive and efficient. This in turn would lead to a harmonious work place, which would help the organization to grow multifold in terms of net profit and net happiness.
Spiritual growth is the expansion of personal truths outside the perceptions produced by irrational belief systems, towards the reality. It is a process of becoming stronger and better by trying to understand ourselves in a new light. It is the process of moving closer to being able to love unconditionally. It is every person’s ultimate goal to learn to love unconditionally and “Be” that how we really are – Spirits Of Unconditional Love (SOUL). This is a difficult task, but at the end everyone must achieve it (Michael, 1994). Romantic love is something that happens to us; it is something that we actively do. Unconditional love is something we have to “Be”. Loving unconditionally is actually accomplished through a powerful form of inner subtle energy that we can learn to send out from the energy centers of our soul. This energy emanates from our soul as Divine love and we can send it out to others in moments of consciousness. This includes learning to accept others, to trust, to need and be needed, to commit to being kind, compassionate, patient and open. It takes the pursuit of these attributes of love to prepare us for changes in spiritual growth. In the process of growing spiritually, we experience the unburdening of negative emotions related to fear and anger. On positive side we experience the feelings of peace and love. Over a period of time, we become more sensitive of other people’s emotions and vibrations because we would be able to tune into them. The more we grow, the better our life becomes. We have more serenity and less stress, more love and less hate, more joy and less pain. Relationships with others would become more positive and stronger. There will be fewer chances of going astray and getting involved in wrong situations. We would be able to think more clearly and would be in a better position to provide appropriate reactions in a given situation.
The important aspect of growing spiritually is to deal with our negative emotions. Emotions such as sad, pessimistic, anger, frustration, remorseful, jealous, aggressive, discourage are prime candidates that need to be looked into. Another important aspect of growing spiritually is to strengthen, encourage and enhance the positive emotions. Positive emotions such as joy, contentment, satisfaction, happiness indicate that different aspects of our life are going well. In the path of spiritual growth, if we wish to leave the pain of negative emotions, we must change our attitude. Attitude can be understood as the overall mental orientation that we hold towards a person or situation. Attitude is composed of beliefs and values that make our perspective or approach to life. It is a form of energy that makes us to act and react to the things, situations and people in our life. Changing attitude is a fundamental part of spiritual growth because it is our attitude that determines the type of the subtle energy that we contain within and it is this subtle energy that spiritual growth transforms into unconditional love. When we change an attitude and start to operate according to new attitude, we expand our experience of life into new and different areas, which gradually provides lot of comfort and peace. Hence if we wish to make an attitude change, it is good to begin with that area of life which places us in pain and turmoil on a frequent basis. The sooner we make the decision to alter our present attitude, the sooner we will find a vast improvement taking place in our life. We will feel as light as a feather, as we get used to the new attitude and it forms a part of who we really are. The discomfort experienced due to fear and pain would vanish and feelings of joy, happiness and peace would take their place. This would make us feel stronger, better and more confident. The simple reason for this change is that less amount of energy would be spent on the negative emotions and a substantial amount of energy would be utilized to accomplish more positive things that would further increase feelings of happiness and joy. These types of rewards (feelings of joy, happiness and peace) would encourage us to make more attitude changes and improve the quality of our life.
10.1 CHANGING AN ATTITUDE However, changing an attitude is not very simple and easy. It takes lot of patience and dedication to change an attitude to which we are very used to. Following are the steps that precede making an attitude change (Michael, 1994) 10.1.1 Willingness An alcoholic does not quit drinking until he is willing to put down that drink and do whatever is necessary so that he will not want to pick up another. In order to start the process of spiritual growth, we must first be willing to go through whatever is necessary to change that which is moving us away from unconditional love. In short, the first step is “willingness” to do whatever it takes to grow spiritually, to change that attitude that is leading us in the direction away from unconditional love. 10.1.2 Watchfulness This step is about being “Watchful” of our thoughts. It is about taking action to identify what attitude we need to change. We do this by looking at the cause-and-effect pattern of the thoughts that come up time and again, and keep asking ourselves, why this pattern happens. After a lengthy process of self-interrogation, we might land up with only one answer. This is then the point when we discover what we have to do in terms of changing our mental attitude. 10.1.3 Visualization After the above steps, it is time for us to decide, whether we are ready to put in the efforts to change to the new attitude. We need to plant this new mental attitude firmly in our mind by focusing on it as deeply as possible and with as much emotion that we actually feel the freedom and peace that it has to offer. In this step, we visualize going through situations which would have normally provoked our response of old attitude and experience the feelings of total peace and contentment instead of pain and disgust. It is through this visualization that we clearly feel the different results that our new attitude will bring and thus, it will manifest, providing concrete evidence that we need to fully commit ourselves to further change.
10.1.4 Effort The fourth and final step in the process is effort. Effort is required all through this process. It is required for willingness to change, to be watchful of our thought patterns, to visualize and finally to use the new attitude at every opportunity. After a few weeks of applying our new found attitude, it will become like a habit and will kick in automatically, no longer requiring any conscious effort by us. It is important to understand that the true value of anything is in the effort that goes into getting it. The things that come easy are usually of little value. It is what we put into that determines the quality of the results. 10.2 FIVE ATTITUDES There is a lot going on, both before and after ‘attitude’. Out thoughts and feelings tend to compromise our attitudes towards anything. Shaping these thoughts and feelings are our beliefs and values, both of which tend to have been programmed into what is sometimes called the subconscious. And then there is ‘intention’, which is also shaped by our beliefs and which also influences the formation of our attitude. One could say that between intention and action is “attitude”. An awareness of our attitude tells us much about ourselves at any given moment. There are five basic attitudes which are probably worthy of aspiration and the challenge of conscious creation (George, 2008). 10.2.1 Attitude of Kindness When you extend true love to everyone with selfless motivation that is an attitude of kindness. Three concepts meet and merge into one action – love, selflessness and kindness. Today love has become more of a fuzzy idea than a real and authentic gesture. It seems love is now one of the most misused words in our language. To say ‘I love my country’ is not true love but identification. To say ‘I love a chocolate’ is not true love but more like a dependency or addiction. To say ‘I love you’ sounds good, feels ok, but it can be easily interpreted as I want you. Only the speaker knows his/her own motive. Actually, true love is not identification, dependency or desire. The extending of true love is simply extending of the self as a conscious and benevolent connection is made with other. It does not have any desire. 42
When love is tinged by desire, it ceases to radiate naturally and flow outwards without distortion, and it tries to bring some part of the universe into itself. Ultimately love neither gives nor takes nor wants. True love is the shadow of kindness. Understanding the true nature of love seems to be one of the deepest challenges at this particular time. 10.2.2 Attitude of Mercy When you send good wishes and pure feelings to those who are troubled that is an attitude of mercy. This is not so easy when faced with sorrow of others, especially if they are family or friends or people at work. We tend to sympathize and create sorrow for ourselves under the illusion that by doing so we are giving support. It means we have not yet learned the meaning of empathy, which is to understand someone from their point of view by sensing their feelings or emotions without allowing ourselves to create the same emotion. Empathy is also rooted in the energy of love. The other’s emotion is a symptom of their momentary weakness, and being in the company of someone who does not cry, but remains strong, can give them the strength to pull themselves up and out of their emotional trough. 10.2.3 Attitude of Compassion When you see the virtues rather than the weaknesses in others, then that is an attitude of compassion. It’s not so easy not to judge others when the world seems to both encourage it and turn it into a virtue. It’s a real challenge to look behind the apparent weakness or faults of another and affirm the goodness that lies within. It first requires that we be able to do the same for ourselves. We may do things that we label stupid or bad but we are not innately bad or stupid person. Self-criticism is both toxic and disabling. To know our own innate goodness and strengths becomes the only way we can see it genuinely in others. And as we do we give them the gift of a higher vision of themselves than that which they have for themselves at that moment. This is both a subtle and a spiritual empowerment. It empowers the other in a way they may not even notice at the time. 10.2.4 Attitude of Forgiveness When you bless and uplift someone even as they defame you that is an attitude of forgiveness. It is hard not to react and feel personally insulted when someone critics or 43
defames us. But it is just another of ego’s games. It is really the conditioning that is offended not the self. Whenever we take personally it just means we don’t yet know ourselves as we truly are. We are still identifying ourselves with false image that we have given ourselves. When we know ourselves as conscious beings with no self-image, when we are aware of ourselves as only consciousness, words cannot touch and therefore cannot hurt us. The one who would insult us is then seen to be suffering within themselves. Their words and the energy behind the words are recognized as a symptom of their own discomfort. A need is discerned, so love as compassion arises. And that is forgiving. 10.2.5 Attitude of Humility and Self-Respect When you tolerate a situation and take responsibility as well as cooperate, even when not appreciated, that is an attitude of humility and self-respect. Perhaps this is the profile of a ‘hero’. A hero is someone who saves the day and has the courage to step up and put him in danger, to take what seems to be a risk that few others would dare to take. The attitude of humility is only possible where there is the courage to let go of the illusion upon which the ego is based. It is always the false image that the self attaches to, perhaps even for a lifetime, hence the courage that is required is to let go or to ‘see through’ the illusion to the truth. This is why humility cannot be pursued but arises only when there is the courage to let go of the illusion that the fear is real. All fear arises from the ego, and the ego is not real, so the fear is also unreal. Fear always loses its power when reality is restored. Only then, when the self stops being busy in ego’s game of self protection, can the self be fully available for all, which is co-operation in the most complete sense. 10.3 DO’S AND DON’T’S FOR SPIRITUAL SEEKER 10.3.1 Do Everything Do everything to nurture every aspect of one’s life. Live life fully with passion, drive and achievement orientation. Give yourself as much stimuli as you need. But while doing this, follow the spiritual path with intensity. Live spontaneously. Sacrificing or giving up your ambitions is not necessary at the intellectual, emotional or action level. Let it happen naturally, if at all.
10.3.2 Don’t Compromise Don’t compromise on any of your material pursuits, goals, ambitions, passions or relationships. Don’t let go off your pursuits in any way by listening to those sermons that claim “All these pursuits are futile, as the world is unreal”. Spirituality can be practiced along with the material pursuits. In fact, the inclination towards spirituality can be acid-tested by living in the material world with ambitions, goals and relationships. 10.3.3 Serve Others It can cause inner transformation and build your sense of self-esteem. It will teach you compassion and create a cosmic benevolence for you. It must be remembered that “Service to mankind is Service to God”. Serving others with selfless intentions can foster inner peace and harmony, thereby making a person happy and contended. 10.3.4 Physical Exercise Do not ignore Physical exercise. Physical exercise generates chemicals that can make you feel better and that can recharge each cell of your body. This is just as important as sleeping, eating, working or meditating. It keeps a person fit and healthy, and a fit and healthy person has more positive energy and motivation to tread the path of spirituality. 10.4 BEING A “SPIRITED” PERSON People who fully express their creative potential are “spirited” people. These people exhibit qualities like self-awareness, purposeful, incisive, rewarding, inventive, transforming, evaluative and dauntless (Miller, 2006). Though we are all naturally creative, as part of our Divine nature, many people fail to recognize their creative potential or cultivate the personal qualities for being creative. As described above, the spirited people exhibit the following qualities:
10.4.1 S = Self-Aware. This quality indicates actively developing an intuition, willing to feel the emotions, seeking insights about others and oneself and knowing personal purpose and values. 10.4.2 P = Purposeful This quality indicates taking a holistic view, envisioning what is important, committing whole-heartedly and promoting the highest benefit for everyone concerned. 10.4.3 I = Incisive This quality indicated seeking opposing points of view, assessing situations systematically and holistically, being curious and getting insights into complex situations. 10.4.4 R = Rewarding This quality indicates sharing the credit with others, seeking to acknowledge positive performance in others, appreciating efforts of others and celebrating the completion of activities, however small or big they might be. 10.4.5 I = Inventive This quality indicates looking beyond the tradition window and generating more options, switching easily between logic and imagination and looking at challenges in new perspective. 10.4.6 T = Transforming This indicates taking persistent action, energizing, motivating and moving people to action, acting with integrity to keep agreements and choosing growth over fear. 10.4.7 E = Evaluative This indicates considering personal values while making decisions, seeking long term and short term benefits, seeking consensus whenever required and anticipating the consequences. 46
10.4.8 D = Dauntless This indicates clarity in ambiguous situations, taking prudent risk, maintaining confidence in tough situations and acting independently, if necessary. If we have a closer look at the above qualities, we can recognize them as the essential qualities needed by any person who aspires to be a leader or a manager. This indicates that the managers and leaders at workplace or business need to encompass these qualities, which essentially directs them to a spiritual path. Being spiritual reflects an awareness of being a part of something bigger than oneself. In our world today, the thing we are most lacking is a visionary leadership. One reason that visionary leadership is in short supply today is the value our society places on one particular kind of capital - material capital. Too often the worth or value of an enterprise is judged by how much money it earns at the end of the day, or how much worldly power it gives us over others. This obsession with material gain has led to short-term thinking and the narrow pursuit of self-interest. It is true that any kind of enterprise we want to engage in requires some kind of financial wealth if it is to succeed in the short term. But for leadership to inspire long-term, sustainable enterprises, it needs to pursue two other forms of capital as well: social and spiritual. These three types of capital resemble the layers in a wedding cake. Material capital is the top layer, social capital lies in the middle, and spiritual capital rests on the bottom, supporting all three (Zohar, 2006). Today business and society in general is driven by four negative motivations: fear, greed, anger, and self-assertion. When we are controlled by these negative emotions, we trust less, both ourselves and others, and we tend to act from a small place inside ourselves. Pumping our work system with spiritual intelligence creates transformation of these four negative motivations: fear becomes mastery, greed becomes self-control, anger becomes cooperation and self-assertion becomes exploration. And this is essentially one of the responsibilities of a true leader or a manager (or any other human-being at workplace) to foster the organization with spiritual values by becoming a spirited person.
SPIRITUALITY AT WORKPLACE
Each of us spends more of our waking hours working, or preparing for work, or recovering from work, than we spend on any other activity in our life. At the end of each day the universe is different that it was at the beginning, and our work is one of the most important aspects of that change. Most of us dissociate ourselves from our work when away from office as if unburdening our lives of a sore, difficult reality. We try to interact with family and friends. Work related issues or people are the last thing we would want to talk about or meet up with. Most of the times, such an attitude can paradoxically relax you and you can return to work refreshed after a weekend or holiday. However, it would be worthwhile to pause and think: what it would be like if one could find work that evokes a feeling of belongingness, which typically doesn’t induce antagonistic feelings for the large amount of time spent, for the unpleasant interactions that one may have to go through while dealing with people of temperaments that are different from ours. A spiritual approach at workplace can help in realizing this dream and make it come true. Incorporating a philosophy that is rooted in spirituality will give a direction to all. It acts as an effective stress relieving mechanism that the organizations could make use of. Up until recently, people considered spirituality and business as polar opposite. It seemed weird to be spiritual at the place for being professional. However, the growing stressful and traumatic work environment compels people at work to take a turn towards in-depth insight of spirituality. The vigilance about peace at work has lead to awaken the conscience of everyone about spiritual quotient. Conventionally, spirituality had no place in business as the modern management concepts advocate that the business of business is business. Those concepts of management can be implemented effectively if one has wisdom of spiritual conscience. The
senses of resilience, contentment, forgiveness, benevolence, dutifulness, discipline and selflessness are some of the components of attitude that infuse the spirit of spirituality. Various empirical studies state, that those who invigorate themselves with the illumination and power of spirituality are better managers and elite performers. They have compassion and devotion towards everything they do; they are always well wishers of organization. They place their heart and soul to work, since they do everything with ultimate passion and burning desire, they succeed. The enlightenment of spirituality paves the path to mental peace and tranquility. A happy contended and generous person is instinctively a good performer as he keeps his environment illuminated with his positive waves. It is not necessary that spiritual intelligence is required at the senior most positions but it facilitates them to be more vigorous, vigilant and concerned about the stakeholders. The spirit of spirituality is required at the beginning and medieval period also but the mix of it varies depending upon person to person and situation to situation. Spirituality at workplace certainly helps people to have an extra edge in order to lead a healthier life with grace, love and gratitude. The organizations nowadays have inside towards work ethics or business ethics; those ethics can be instilled easily among personnel as they have a platform existent. The people inclined towards spirituality easily acclimatize themselves with such a work culture. The malpractices, malicious activities, unethical issues, policies in the working environment tend to slow down their rate or diminish their occurrence. One can manage interpersonal issues, stress, conflicts, crises, tribulations and disturbances of the organization in a healthier manner, if he/she is invigorating and enlightening himself/herself with the concept of spirituality. Given enough care and importance in developing spiritual quotient would help to develop all the qualities of a human-being. These inherent qualities of human-being essentially include leadership, managerial effectiveness, team work, motivation, interpersonal skills, stress management, confidence, positive thinking, time management, communication and presentation skills and all such professional, personal, social and spiritual effectiveness which add to our overall positive and constructive development, which in turn is beneficial for organization and individuals. 49
11.1 DEVELOPING A SPIRITUAL WORK PLACE The management has to know what can make an employee relate in an insightful way with self and others. It has to nurture a sense of belongingness that makes the employee feel worthwhile. For this, the management must take the following steps (Mehta, 2004): 11.1.1 Provide Opportunity to Be Innovative It is creativity which brings us closer to our real self and potential. An employee who can express his/her ideas without inhibitions will be more tuned towards self-awareness. 11.1.2 Respect the Employee It means respecting individual differences and providing space to the employee to function within the framework. It means accepting all differences, whether they are regarding views, origins or personal traits. 11.1.3 Share a Vision Spiritual values must be part of the vision that the organization shares with its employees. The vision will help both the employer and the employee look beyond petty issues. It helps them become better people and thus better co-workers. 11.1.4 Encourage Communication Poor communication fuels conflicts and ego clashes. Communication aids clarity by helping people understand better. It involves thinking beyond the immediate situation. 11.1.5 Keep Place for Some Fun It is difficult to get associated with a workplace, where there is no space for fun, no matter how loaded it might be with values and goodness. In fact, a little bit of fun at workplace will lighten up the atmosphere and help employees go about their work without any inhibitions.
11.1.6 Be Flexible Spirituality has got nothing to do with rigid standards of perfectionism. An open mind and spirit will help both the manager and employee to be flexible in their approaches. It will help tackle explosive situations where flared tempers can only make matters worse. Being assertive is important for the manager, but it should be tempered with a pliant attitude. 11.1.7 Sense of Control A sense of control will come with a little bit of autonomy in handling of the work. It helps a person get to know his/her capabilities and incapacities and thus makes them accept themselves unconditionally. An unconditional acceptance of oneself and by others improves one’s self-esteem and selfawareness. Any individual in such a state will perform at his/her best. Organization must look towards harnessing this positive energy that is present in every person rather than using the carrot and stick method. A spiritual approach will help maximize the gains for both the employers and employees. It’s a well know fact and pre-requisite for any business that right from the managing director to the entry-level employees, everyone works hard for better quarterly results. However, these results, instead of being in terms of net profit, should be looked in terms of ‘net happiness’ and ‘peace per employee’. This would move the organization up the higher levels of ‘spiritual maturity model’. A spiritual approach at work place would definitely prove to be a win-win situation for both the employer and employee. However, the organizations while embracing spirituality will have to tread the path with caution and care. Employees may look at this strategy as a ploy by company to create a religious atmosphere. Some employees of dominant religion within the company may resent the religious beliefs of other employees resulting in an irreconcilable conflicts and a depressing work atmosphere. Fear of religious conversion may pop its ugly head. Some employees may have a cynical view and laugh it off as a latest management fad. Some may view it as a desperate attempt by the management to shore up the bleeding bottom-line.
Hence the management should muster up enough courage to carry the conviction of creating a spiritual workplace. All the myths about spirituality and religion should be clarified right from the root level. Employees, irrespective of religion and cadre, should be taken into confidence, if the management wants to make a dream of workplace spirituality come true. 11.2 HUMAN VALUES AT WORKPLACE As mentioned earlier, spirituality at workplace is based on the foundation of selfdevelopment and personal fulfillment. Focusing on these two aspects of spirituality essentially means creating awareness or unleashing the inherent human values in an individual. There are basically five human values which are the fundamental roots of a healthy, vibrant and viable individual (Miller, 2006). a) b) c) d) e) Truth Righteousness Peace Love Non-Violence
Before we explore the spiritual essence of these values at workplace, it needs to be emphasized that these values need not be taught or learnt; rather, they must be evoked or unveiled, sometimes by unlearning the ways we keep them hidden. It also needs to be noted that these five values represent humanity at its fullest. In other words, these human values can also be termed as spiritual values, since understanding and unleashing these values at workplace leads to stress-free environment and a satisfied, composed and efficient employee. These human values have been described below. 11.2.1 Truth Most people think of truth as simply being honest. However, the spiritual essence of truth reveals much deeper implications. Truth, from a spiritual basis, starts with recognizing the unchanging, essential nature of Divinity in oneself and all creation. And this leads to seeing the Divinity in everyone.
Truth is inextricably linked with other four human values. When you are truthful from a spiritual basis, you will naturally be ethical (righteousness), self-confident (peace), pure at heart (love) and dedicated to equality (non-violence). Understanding truth from a spiritual basis leads to honesty, trust and wisdom in relationships at work. 11.2.2 Righteousness Righteousness, from a spiritual basis, is acting in accordance with your own Divine nature and in complete harmony with the essential Divine nature of all creation. Righteousness is different from people who act “righteously” in their work – those who elevate their beliefs of right or wrong above all others and have very little regard for anyone who might disagree. The people who do “righteous” work from an ego, self-centered basis, have qualities like narrow mindedness, rigid views of right and wrong, harsh judgment towards anything they consider wrong, a desire to seek jobs that allow them to enforce their views of right and wrong etc. On other hand, people with righteousness quality have strong moral principles and their attitudes create inspiration and harmony around them. Righteousness at work is naturally aligned with essential Divine nature, spiritual purpose and values and universal laws. It is a distinctive spiritual quality of excellence, duty and virtue that each person naturally possesses. It includes following your own sense of a “right path” in your career and expressing “right conduct” in your words and deeds. Righteousness is also inextricably linked with the other four human values. When you act morally from the wisdom of your true spiritual purpose and values, you will bring out your natural ability to be trustworthy (truth), contended (peace), helpful (love) and co-operative (non-violence). 11.2.3 Love Mahatma Gandhi sought to free India from the clutches of British Empire, using simple yet powerful tools of ‘Ahimsa’ (Non-violence) and ‘Satyagraha’ (Force of Truth). According to him, love was the basis of Satyagraha. 53
Basically, it is the law of love that rules mankind. If love can help free a nation, then it can definitely work miracles at workplace. However, it needs to be clarified that it is not the worldly love that comes from the mind and has our self-interest desires at its basis that can create miracles. It is the Divine love that comes from the heart and has the wisdom and power of the universe at its basis. When love comes from a spiritual basis, it inspires, motivates, energizes and strengthens all aspects of our day-to-day work. To experience the power of love, we need to go beyond a typical mistaken belief. Most people see love as a more passive experience, and they think that in order to show love they must overlook transgressions and unfair behavior, and just be nice. On the contrary, when love comes from the heart, it is the motivator, energizer and strengthener that gives you the power to speak boldly and act courageously – all the while respecting the people and conditions you find yourself in. 11.2.4 Peace There is a constant quest for peace; everyone is seeking it. But peace is not just an external polish, which can be put on or brushed off. Peace is not to be had from the external world. It is inherent, present in each one of us. By far, peace is the most challenging human value for most people to draw upon and experience in their work. Importance and necessity of peace at work can be understood from the fact that without inner peace, there can be no real contentment and inner fulfillment in our work. Inner peace puts us in touch with our highest wisdom, thus enhancing our work quality dramatically. It needs to be realized by each one of us, that peace is in our inherent nature, not a function of our minds – that’s why it transcends our understanding. When we know that it’s a natural part of our being, we can make an earnest effort not to let even the most dire circumstances or darkest inner feelings, cloud over this peace.
11.2.5 Non-Violence Many a times, at workplace we find ourselves having tough competition with someone for a promotion or someone opposing our strongly-held point of view. In such situations we frequently see others as “enemy” in our own minds. We easily find ourselves feeling critical and resentful, trying to control or dominate others and wanting to retaliate. These are the reactions or perceptions that categorically fall under the definition of “Violence” The broadest and most common definition of non-violence is; “Respecting all and causing no harm to any being by our thoughts, words or deeds” (Miller, 2006). From a spiritual perspective, non-violence is regarding and treating everyone and everything in creation as Divinity. In other words, when we are aware of the oneness that underlies all of creation, we realize that when we do anything that harms others, it is the same as harming ourselves. Following guidelines can help us to treat others at work without harming them: Have a clear intention to respect others and not harm anyone, no matter what the circumstances are. This can be true, even when competing for a treasured job. Understand the fact that harmful responses can never lead to success Live by the other four human values; truth, righteousness, peace and love. The combined power of these human values makes non-violence a natural result, even in tough confrontations. Have self-control over the tendency to possess, control or dominate others. Experience no sense of separateness from others, but feel respect and a desire for the well-being and dignity of all people. All the five human values have the same spiritual core – seeing and appreciating the Divinity in oneself and all creation. Because of this, these values will always bring harmony among everyone. These values cannot be expressed in isolation; each supports the other. For example: If you are strong in truth, you can bring out your natural ability to be ethical (righteousness), self-confident (peace), pure at heart (love) and dedicated to equality (non-violence) If you are strong in righteousness, you can bring out your natural ability to be trustworthy (truth), contended (peace), helpful (love) and cooperative (non-violence).
If you are strong in peace, you can bring out your natural ability to be authentic (truth), disciplined (righteousness), compassionate (love) and forgiving (nonviolence). If you are strong in love, you can bring out your natural ability to have integrity (truth), be charitable to others (righteousness), be equanimous (peace) and respect others (non-violence). If you are strong in non-violence, you can bring out your natural ability to be honest (truth), dutiful (righteousness), patient (peace) and kind (love). Understanding these human values, therefore becomes utmost important for following the path of spirituality at work. These human values are the founding stones of spirituality at work. Understanding and implementing them paves a way for a successful individual and organization. 11.3 VALUING RELATIONSHIPS In the fast-paced modern times, people have become extremely busy accumulating financial assets and physical comforts. We have lost ourselves so much in this race that we hardly find time to sit back and think where our relationships are heading to. We have forgotten that material belongings are devoid of meaning, if there is no peace or happiness within. In this hi-tech world, where work pressures are mounting and consistent peak performance has become a norm, men and women are transforming into machines, with no heart, feelings or emotions. We don’t find time to nourish our relationships at work and home. We have started taking our relationships for granted. As a result, these relationships at work and home have become strained. Assumptions are like termites as they eat into trust, the basic ingredient for a healthy relationship. Lack of trust leads to suspicion, suspicion generates anger, anger causes enmity and enmity may result in separation. It is a chain reaction (George, 2008). Another enemy of good relations is the blame game. When things go wrong, people try to find a scapegoat. It must be remembered that when we point one finger at somebody, the other three point at us. It is better to take personal responsibility and accept our own folly than create an environment of hatred for each other. It is extremely difficult to change another person’s character. Thus, having high expectations from others will only result in
disappointment and frustration. On the other hand, it is easier to change ourselves and lower our expectations. Ego is the biggest hurdle in a relationship. It leads to lack of communication and misunderstanding which finally ends up in a cold war or heavy atmosphere. Having an easy nature towards everyone helps one to be flexible and humble. An easy person can get along with everyone and become an instrument in creating harmonious relationships. Many relationships break-off because of use of wrong speech. When we are close with each other, we tend to be casual about mutual respect and courtesy. Frequently exchanging critical remarks plants the seeds for a bitter relationship. We must choose our words carefully and refrain from hurting others’ feelings. Often we fail to distinguish a person from his performance. We associate the two so closely that we treat people according to their actions. Everybody’s dignity needs to be given due respect irrespective of what they do. We also forget that forgiveness is greater than revenge. Mistakes can be overlooked but the actions taken in anger will bother us forever. A person needs to think first before he/she loses his/her patience with someone they love. Give value to your near and dear ones and also your colleagues and subordinates at work and do not lose them on trivial matters. It is important to give them a sense of belonging and care. Do not forget their small kindness and do not remember their minor mistakes. Each one of us has the capacity to fulfill all the relationships. Seeing Divinity in all creation makes it easy to give love to other human-beings. This feeling forms the fundamental base of improving our relationships with others at work and home.
BENEFITS OF SPIRITUALITY
A spiritual workplace would mean that work would move from merely being a place to get enough money to survive and earning our daily bread – to a place where we not merely survive but are fully alive and human. We are alive, in that our spirit fully expresses itself. And through our contribution, we allow other people’s spirits to be nourished and to flourish. Spiritual workplace works wonders for business. One of the primary benefits is that people are more in touch with the source of creativity. Creativity is the cornerstone of business. It leads to more efficient contribution, more revitalization, renewal and resilience. Another benefit is increased authenticity in communication, in which people feel free to talk about their truth without fear of reprisal. When truth is allowed to be safely and respectfully spoken, old problems clear up, new possibilities emerge and people feel more aligned. They work together in a trusting team. Increased ethical and moral behavior is yet another benefit. An important value of ethical behavior for business is the development of trust. We trust people who operate in an ethical framework and spiritual approach plays an important role in developing this framework. Spirituality at workplace also leads to increased self-fulfillment, contentment and a deep sense of belonging. It creates a win-win situation for the employee and organization. Some of the other benefits that spirituality at work place offers are: Scope for personal and organizational transformation. Understanding the need for personal connection creates sympathy and loyalty to others. Fosters a climate of trust, loyalty, honest and authentic communication and commitment of members towards organization. Awareness of purpose and interconnectedness increases dignity and respect from others. Awareness of the effects of an individual’s actions makes them more responsible. If people feel they are appreciated and connected to community and part of a larger purpose, they will feel more motivated. 58
Retains talent. People want to remain where they feel supported and encouraged to meet their personal development and satisfaction. Enhanced productivity and reduced absenteeism Enhanced job satisfaction levels. Gives an opportunity to morph into a close, well-knit community of mutual care, help and service with greater sense of purpose. The organization will become purpose-driven and meaning-based. Management with a mission will replace management of efficiency and control. There will be a shift from fear-based culture to love-based culture. Management practices and decisions will be clearly consistent with spiritual values such as integrity, honesty, love, hope, kindness, respect and nurturing. Management will break down the walls of hierarchy to create a sense of community and inspire a sense of belonging in the workers. There is a new willingness to reflect on the meaning of life and moral implications in making important decisions. There is a shared attitude that products and services need to be beneficial to community and humanity. Management will value employees based on who they are, what they can become, rather than what they can do for the company. Bosses will treat employees in a responsible, respectful and caring way, because people are not instruments to be used and exploited. Management will also resort to spiritual ways of resolving conflict. Therefore, they will be reluctant in issuing ultimatum and slow in the "firing trigger". Spiritual dimension will be fully integrated with every aspect of work life, such as relationships, planning, budgeting, negotiation, compensation, etc. It can be seen that workplace spirituality offers huge benefits. Employees may forge longlasting relation with the company if they feel their contributions are being acknowledged, their thoughts are being listened to, their ethical behavior being encouraged, their soul, mind and body awakened to the highest level. Employees do not look only at the pay packages but they also seek spiritual fulfillment. Organizations need to openly advocate and support more caring and sharing ideals that place people and ethics ahead of profit. A more caring philosophy can translate into competitive advantage, and better commercial performance. If an organization is open and accepting, people can feel comfortable. People feel better when they are allowed and encouraged to connect on a deeper level with others, especially with managers and superiors. Fear and anxiety is no help in organizations. Connecting openly dispels anxiety and makes for harmonious relationships. An increased sense of humanity and trust positively impacts the bottom line, because people and entire organizations - work far better when folk are happy. 59
STRESS MANAGEMENT – SPIRITUAL TECHNIQUES Lifestyle is one of the major factors that can provoke many of the stressors people experience. A healthy and fit person is much more capable to handle stressful situations than a weak and unfit person. Lifestyle of an individual is defined by three important parameters; Diet, Exercise and Relaxation. Certain types of food combinations are difficult to digest thereby causing stress on the digestive system. The obvious examples are alcohol, drugs and caffeine. Caffeine is a xanthine drug that functions similar to adrenaline’s role in activating the central nervous system’s stress response. When excessive mounts of alcohol is consumed, the digestive system has to respond by using energy to dissolve toxins, instead of constructing and maintaining cell growth. Exercise is an important factor in increasing longevity. Regular and planned exercise routine helps in metabolizing the harmful cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein) and producing good cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein) levels. Relaxation programs assist in changing people’s attitude towards stress and health. There are a variety of new age therapies that can help a person to unwind. a) Quantum Healing: This therapy helps to increase the vibrations of cells by increasing metabolism. b) Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP): It is a theory of language, communication and thought that helps in improving the way people interact with the world. c) Carnio Sacral Balancing: This therapy helps to balance our neurological system. d) Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): A tool that works on the body’s energy field and releases negative emotions and restores the energy balance. e) Rebirthing: It is a special breathing technique which releases traumas, conflicts, stresses and past memories. The relaxation techniques help a person by allowing his/her mind and body to rest and regenerate. However, it should be noted that the exercise and relaxation methods will not automatically enhance a person’s ability to respond to stressful event. Much of it depends on
the programs used, attitude of an individual towards the program and meticulous adherence to the program. 13.1 MEDITATION: AN APPROACH TO STRESS MANAGEMENT. To most people meditation is associated with a method used for concentration and driving away thoughts and committing oneself to a lifestyle of abstinence and self control. As such, many people find it rather complex and mystical. Hence it becomes absolutely necessary to clear the myth and understand the basic concept of meditation and how it can be used as a tool for stress management. Meditation is a technique that helps to experience a state of consciousness that “transcends” or goes beyond the three normally experienced states of consciousness – waking, sleeping and dreaming (Gupta, 2007) Human-being’s mind is always thirsting for more joy and happiness. Mediation can help saturate the mind with pure and unbounded joy by making the mind experience pure consciousness. As the practice of mediation enhances the experience of pure consciousness becomes deeper and more refined. There may come a time when pure consciousness remains permanently established in one’s being and permeates through all the other three states of consciousness. This is the state of enlightenment (Gupta, 2007) Thus, meditation can be looked upon as a crucial component in the spiritual quest or as an important tool for stress management. There are various known techniques of meditation, each having its own limitations and merits. While the goal is same, each technique uses different approach to reach the goal. The underlying fact of each technique is that they provide deep relaxation and rest, which in turn leads to the release of stresses and negatives embedded in our consciousness. As this negativity is released, one experiences more clarity in the mind, a sense of relaxation and lightness.
The various techniques of meditation are as mentioned below (Gupta, 2007): 13.1.1 Concentration Based Technique: A concentration based technique for meditation essentially means concentrating on an object which may be any given point, the centre of the forehead, a source of light that is real or imagined, concentrating on a word or a string of words (Mantra) or concentrating on a particular image. 13.1.2 Contemplation Based Technique: This technique of meditation involves contemplating the thoughts and image of Divine, trying to evoke feelings of love, devotion and surrender from within oneself. Variation of this method would be to think deeply about our existence and conscience. 13.1.3 Natural Thought Based Technique: These are neither concentration, nor contemplation based techniques. They also do not involve breathing exercises. They are based on relaxing the mind in a natural way, without obstructing the natural flow of thoughts, ideas or emotions. Whatever the technique, it should be remembered that a disciplined routine, with a balanced diet, adequate sleep, rest and exercise is an aid to meditation, which in turn helps in coping and preventing the stressful events experienced in daily life. Some people are of the opinion that meditating more than the prescribed time limit would lead to faster enlightenment or quick relieving of stresses. This might be true for certain types of paths, but it does not appeal to a person who is living in a society and working to earn his living. Practicing meditation all day long or for a sizeable portion of the 24-hour day may not be the most feasible approach. Sixty to ninety minutes per day seems to be a good enough investment and commitment. One may argue that there are people who are willing to sacrifice anything and everything to progress fast and they would progress faster if they meditated constantly. A counter argument 62
is that while a deeper thirst for spiritual salvation would help, merely spending more hours meditating will work only to a limited extent,. In doing so the person might reach a saturation point and the law of diminishing returns may start applying to meditation as well (Gupta, 2007). There is also the fear that meditation without commensurate activity can make a person dull. Meditation should be understood as a mechanism for providing deep rest to the mind and body. “Rest” and “Activity” are the basic steps to progress. Rest followed by activity followed again by rest is what leads to spiritual progress. “Rest” can be construed as relaxation or de-stressing derived from meditation, while “Activity” as carrying on with our daily jobs, duties and tasks, thus gathering stress in the process. The above principle of “Rest” and “Activity” as an essential step to progress can be understood by an example of age old process of dyeing a cloth. In order for the color of dye to be strong, the first round of coloring is faded away by drying the cloth in the hot sun. After many such rounds of coloring and fading after every dip, the color becomes strong and permanent. In a similar way, for personal evolution to take place through the experience of meditation, one must return to physical, mental and emotional activities after meditation. The meditative effect must thus be faded away through contact with the material world, activities and diversions. This must be repeated many times over. Then, the experience of pure consciousness through meditation becomes more permanent. 13.2 “INFINTE BEING” MEDITATION TECHNIQUE In meditation practices, affirmations are often used to focus the mind. By simply repeating the words “I am,” you affirm your true nature as consciousness. In the case of the Infinite Being meditation, we affirm our innermost identity as the ultimate, infinite consciousness. The affirmation “I am Infinite Being” is the most powerful affirmation possible within the English language (Waters, 2005). The phrase “I am Infinite Being” is an affirmation of your oneness with the ultimate potential, the source of all life, the consciousness from which all life sprang. You are one with that universal consciousness. Everything in manifestation is one with that universal
consciousness. Now is the time to consciously affirm your ultimate potential. It may take courage to begin with, but the results are more than worth the effort. Have the inner discipline to stay with the affirmation and let any issues fade away unchallenged. Your inner self knows the meaning of the words and resonates in joy with their exact and literal truth. Every time you make this affirmation, you become more connected with Infinite Being. Any lesser thoughts are then healed within the light of greater truth. The Infinite Being meditation technique is simple, but it takes efforts to practice it. Find a quiet space to sit down for a few minutes, close your eyes, and start looking for the quiet space within. To keep your brain occupied with the task at hand, focus your attention on the slow, even flow of your breath as it passes in and out of your nostrils. As you breathe each in-breath, mentally repeat the affirmation “I am Infinite Being.” On the out-breath, simply allow your attention to follow the flow of air from your nostrils. To induce an immediate calming effect, allow each out-breath to take longer than each in-breath. Life energy, also known as etheric energy, is conditioned primarily within the human spinal column. From there it is distributed to the rest of the body via the subtle nervous system. Most key functions in the human body owe their operation primarily to the supply of etheric life energy, rather than to the supply of electrical energy. Etheric energy, like consciousness, is non-physical and yet it is behind all life. To help enhance the natural flow of life energy within your spine while performing this meditation it is preferable to sit upright in an erect chair. As you progress with this meditation, the natural flow of life energy within your spine will become enhanced, bringing an enlivened awareness to your consciousness. When distracting thoughts arise - which they will - treat them with patience and understanding. Put each distracting thought aside so that you can continue with the Infinite Being meditation. If a thought seems important or urgent, then it will be sure to return later, after your meditation session has finished.
There are a number of ways to enhance your meditation experience. One is to reserve a small space, such as the corner of a quiet room, where only meditation is conducted. That space then becomes more conducive to a meditation environment. A small table or surface can be covered with items that you connect with spiritual practice. Candles and incense are especially useful as they provide some initial focus for the senses. It also helps to always use the same chair, one that is constructed primarily of a non-metallic material. Metal chairs attract etheric life energy away from you, which is great for the chair, but not so good for the meditation session. A small clock completes your setting, and clean, light clothing, reserved especially for meditation, further enhances the atmosphere. A shower or bath before meditation is very valuable, as water is a powerful cleanser. If, for example, you have just come home from a hectic day at work, then your body will be filled with the distractions of the day, stored in etheric energy form. The water that cleanses you in a shower or bath not only cleanses you of physical impurities, but, more importantly, it also cleanses the etheric energy impurities that do not belong in your energy body. The detailed technique of Infinite Being Meditation is as described below (Waters, 2005):
Take a few moments to completely relax your physical body. Sit in an upright chair with your eyes closed, then clench your feet, toes and leg muscles. Release the tension and let your feet and legs relax completely. Do the same clench-andrelease process for your stomach, chest and back; then your arms and hands; then your neck and face. In preparation, take three deep breaths and exhale each one completely. Now focus your attention on the slow, even flow of breath as it passes in and out of your nostrils. As you breathe each in-breath, mentally repeat the affirmation, “I am Infinite Being.” On the out-breath, allow your attention to follow the flow of air from your nostrils. To induce an immediate calming effect, slow each out-breath and allow it to take up to twice as long as each in-breath. To make a space for your consciousness to dip into the experience of being, pause at the end of the out-breath. Hold the breath out of your body until you feel the need to inhale again. This will typically be for around three seconds, sometimes 65
less. When you are in this motionless quiet space, don’t think, just be. Subtle impressions may arise from your inner self in this Being Space. The end of each breathing cycle is your personal communion space with your inner being. Ignore surface mental noise – words and feelings that jump into your attention – and maintain your focus upon the quiet inner space and subtle impressions of higher consciousness. Nothing loud comes from your inner being. Focus your awareness upon your inner silence. With practice, this is a time when great insights and inspiration quietly dawn upon your awareness. Repeat this cycle of breathing and being for 20 minutes.
An effective meditation technique opens the door to more inspiration, love and creativity into your life.
STRESS MANAGEMENT - RELAXATION TECHNIQUES Meditation is very powerful tool for stress management. However, at work place practicing meditation does not become feasible in most of the organizations, in spite of the fact that the workplace serves as a hub of stressful events. Hence it becomes necessary to explore other techniques which can be practiced anywhere and anytime and help in reducing the stress levels and boost the feelings of joy and serenity. These techniques should also teach us to stay calm and collected in the face of crisis at workplace. Some of the techniques are explained below (Segal, 2008; Saisan, 2008; Smith, 2008) which can be practiced anytime and anywhere. Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult. But it takes practice to truly harness their stress-relieving power. 14.1 DEEP BREATHING TECHNIQUE: Deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere and provides a quick way to get the stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices and can be combined with other relaxation techniques. The key to deep breathing is in breath deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in the lungs. When deep breaths are taken from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from the upper chest, more oxygen is inhaled. The more oxygen you get, the less tensed, short of breath and anxious you feel. The technique for deep breathing is as mentioned below: Sit comfortable with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise and the hand on your chest should move very little. Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but other hand should move very little.
Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rise and falls. Count slowly as you exhale. 14.2 PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is another effective and widely used strategy for stress relief. It involves two-step process in which each muscle group is systematically tensed and relaxed. With regular practice, PMR gives an intimate familiarity with what tension – as well as complete relaxation – feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps an individual to spot and counter act the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. As the body relaxes, so does the mind. One can combine deep breathing with PMR for an additional level of relief from stress. The technique is as follows: Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable. Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow deep breaths. When you are relax and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels. Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10. Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose. Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly. When you are ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release. Move slowly up through up your body – foot, calf, thigh, hips and buttocks, stomach, chest, back, right arm and hand, left arm and hand, neck and shoulders and finally face. 14.3 GUIDED IMAGERY: Guided imagery is a variation of meditation that can help relieve stress. It involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go off all tensions and anxiety. Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether a beach, a favorite spot, lush green fields or holy place. Close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can – everything you can see, hear, smell and feel. Guided imagery works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible. For example, if you are thinking about sunset on a beach, see the sun setting over the water, hear the birds 68
singing or the waves washing ashore, feel the cool water on your bare feet and taste the fresh clean air. 14.4 MASSAGE THERAPY: With the modern pressures of working many people experience neck and shoulder problems from continued work at computers and this can lead to headaches and other problems. Massage at work offers a quick and convenient way to break this cycle and can offer an opportunity for you to return to work feeling mentally and physically reinvigorated for the day. Massage provides deep relaxation. As the muscles in the body relax, so does the overstressed mind. There are many simple self-massage techniques, one can use to relax and release stress, even at the workplace. Although self-massage is good for stress relief, getting a massage from a professional massage therapist can be tremendously relaxing and more than what you can do yourself. 14.4.1 Scalp Massage: Place your thumbs behind your ears while spreading your fingers on top of your head. Move your scalp back and forth slightly by making circles with your finger tips for 15-20 seconds. 14.4.2 Massage for Eyes: Close your eyes and place your ring fingers directly under your eyebrows, near the bridge of your nose. Slowly increase the pressure for 5-10 seconds, then gently release. Repeat 2-3 times. 14.4.3 Massage for Sinus: Place your finger tips at the bridge of your nose. Slowly slide your fingers down your nose and across the top of your cheekbones to the outside of your eyes.
14.4.4 Massage for Shoulders: Reach one arm across the front of your body to your opposite shoulder. Using a circular motion, press firmly on the muscle above your shoulder blade. Repeat the other side. Whatever type of work you do, relaxation techniques at work can be part of a positive work environment and is very much appreciated. The stress of modern life can make real relaxation an elusive dream. Yet there is no reason life has to be filled with anxiety and stress. If you take some time to learn the art of relaxation, you can easily rediscover the enjoyment in life. The secret of relaxation is a controlled state of mind. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, apart from other health benefits. Relaxation techniques are also a mainstay of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The relaxation techniques described above change the body’s physiology from the high arousal state to a low arousal state. Hence these techniques work well for stress related to anxiety, but they do not do much good for stress related to depression. These techniques can give an individual the ability to counter their edginess and nervousness. The spiritual and other relaxation techniques discussed in the above two chapters pave a way for healthy, peaceful and contended life. They are easy to use, quick to learn and quick to implement. Some of the techniques can be practiced at work place and some others require specific environment or setting. Hence, each individual can follow his/her own technique based on their daily schedule, and work style. However, manifesting these techniques in the daily lifestyle and a strict adherence to them is the key that enables a person to enjoy a “Stress-free” or “Manageable-Stress” life. Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not yet come. We have only today. So let’s begin” Hence, understanding the fact that stress is a known dragon, let’s begin to use the above techniques to slay it or at least tame it.
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19. http://www.webmd.com/diet/diet-for-stress-management-slideshow “Diet for Stress Management: Stress Reducing Foods” by Nazario, B. 20. http://www.helpguide-org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm “Relaxation practices that reduce stress” by Segal, J., Saisan, J. and Smith, M. 21. Selman, V. (2005). Spiritual Intelligence/-Quotient. College teaching methods and styles journal. 22. http://www.changingminds.org/articles/articles08/identify_stress_triggers.htm “Identify your Stress Triggers” by Thejendra, B.S. 23. http://www.infinitebeing.com/0405/ibmeditation.htm “The Ultimate Meditation” by Waters, O. 24. http://fastleader3.cma.ee/popFile.php?id=8 “Spiritually Intelligent Leadership” by Zohar, D.
1. 2. 3. NAME DATE OF BIRTH : : Kiran Sakroji December 18, 1977
EDUCATIONAL QUALFICATIONS Degree Year of passing Institution Degree Year of passing Institution : : : : : : B.Tech (Mechanical) 1999 Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University, Lonere, Maharashtra. Post Graduate Diploma in Piping Design and Engineering 2000 Maharashtra Insitute of Technology, Pune, Maharashtra.
WORK EXPERIENCE i. Senior Engineer-Stress – Technip India Limited, Chennai - January 2006 till date. ii. Engineer-Stress – Uhde India Limited, Mumbai - September 1999 to January 2006.