From Stress to Bliss in Four Easy Steps

"Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea," says a modern philosopher.

Our noted ayurvedic expert agrees. This is what I tell people all the time — "worry is like a rocking chair; it keeps taking you back and forth, but doesn't really get you anywhere," says our ayurvedic expert from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians, his cheerful eyes twinkling.

Over time, he has learn to simplify for his patients the Sanskrit terminology that ayurveda is replete with. "A surprisingly large number of my patients say they're stressed," says our ayurvedic expert. "I could tell them to balance their doshas and clear their shrotas — but I know most people have a fear of new words. What I do tell them is to follow simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in their lives." A sampling of the Vaidya's time-tested tips on how to beat back modern stress:

Don't Be a Time-Struggler

The human body is simply not suited to time struggle. Research strongly suggests that people who suffer from hurry sickness — the anxious feeling that there's never enough time — may be at increased risk of developing health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Impatient clock-watching is also linked to hostility, resentment and sudden cardiac death.

Are you a time-struggler? Take this simple test to find out. Just sit idle for five minutes, eyes closed. At the end of that time, analyze those five minutes. Were you restless, bored, anxious? Or calm, comfortable and relaxed? Did you open your eyes to check if five minutes were over yet? Did your shoulders and neck feel tense? Were you, in that period, able to filter out the noise of life and tune in to yourself? Your answers will give you all the clues you need.

Why this time-anxiety happens, says ayurveda, is because we lose connection with our innermost needs, and chase ephemeral outside goals. Result: your body, mind and heart develop conflicting interests—the mind insists on going on while the body feels tired and the heart feels heavy. To reset your clock, therefore, you need to find your inner integration again. This you can do by listening to what you really, really want. Once your body, mind and heart all want the same things, your natural balance will be restored and you will hum instead of being caught up in the humdrum.

On a more physical level, stress generates deadly free radicals, which wreak havoc on the brain, nervous system, heart and overall immunity. The answer? Antioxidants, designed by nature to combat free radical damage. One such power antioxidant is Amrit: proven by modern scientific research to nourish the body and mind like no other supplement ever has. The unique combination of rare herbs and fruits in this formulation beats back free radical damage caused by stress, improving immunity and restoring balance between mind, body and spirit.

Recreation is Re-Creation

Don't be afraid to give yourself quiet time. The logic is simple: all life evolves, grows and is sustained through cycles of rest and activity. Rest is the basis of dynamic activity. It's there for you to see in the rhythm of the heart, and in the wheel of day and night.

Don't limit your re-creation to just before setting out to work hard. Each time you come up with a brilliant idea or achieve a pivotal goal, reward yourself with something that pleases your senses and winds you down. Find creative ways to achieve your workload — eliminate unnecessary steps, avoid procrastination, prioritize, delegate. Each of these will free up some of your time and energy for more productive, creative work.

Most importantly, get good sleep. It is for a good reason that library shelves brim with books on how to cure insomnia and other sleep disorders. More than half of America is not sleeping well. An uncomfortable night sets off a series of unhappy events — your appetite is low, your digestion is slow, you feel irritated and fatigued, your strain tells on your performance, relationships and life. In such a state, you cannot hope to be creative.

Ayurveda offers some wonderful ways to sleep better naturally. Simple tips like: follow a regular bedtime, wind down an hour before you go to bed, do a warm oil self-massage every day, or use a relaxing aroma oil such as Slumber Time to help you sleep.

Herbs like Indian Valerian and Muskroot are natural herbal sleep-aids with a calming influence and have been used in ayurveda for centuries. Winter Cherry helps resistance to stress, and helps balance the mind and emotions. These and other rest-friendly herbs come together in Maharishi Ayurveda's Blissful Sleep formula, prepared in the traditional ayurvedic way, using only the best-quality ingredients.

Work Your Body to Rest Your Mind

Sounds like a contradiction, but actually, exercising to get relaxation is a perfectly fine thing to do. Simply walk away from stress. Even ten minutes everyday will show results. Walking puts you in touch with yourself, howsoever briefly.

Walk your dog, take out the trash, shovel snow, play Frisbee in the park — exercise in bite-sized chunks all day, and you will balance your physical as well as mental energies. Research indicates that the happiest, healthiest people at every age are those who exercise regularly.

A word of caution The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians: do not over-exercise! Ayurveda recognizes the concept of balaardh: bala means strength and ardh means half). That is, at any given time, use up to half your total individual energy, and conserve the rest. This concept makes a lot of sense, for I have seen people die of over-exercise.

If you tend to over-exercise or if you simply want to get more out of your workouts, the Sports & Fitness System herbal supplements can help. Herbal Burn and Herbal Energy boost the body's ability to repair itself and quickly recover from vigorous exercise, and also help reduce strain, increase your energy level and metabolize body fat.

Eat to Live Stress-Free

Food can truly be your medicine. Fruits and vegetables are ace stress-fighters. Get five to nine servings of them each day, and they will offer you more than just complex carbohydrates and fiber. Rich in anti-oxidants, they beat back free-radical damage, cutting your prone-ness to stress, fatigue and disease.

The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians suggests eating foods that please your individual constitution. For example, if you are prone to ulcers and rashes, don't eat hot Chinese food. Stop eating when your body says "Enough!" Common-sense self-regulations like these will help you choose your foods wisely, leading to improved digestion and an overall feeling of well-being.

The Council also recommends using a variety of herbs and spices in everyday cooking. You'll be surprised how a pinch of turmeric or a dash of fennel can bring down tension levels and help the body assimilate nutrients better. The seemingly tiny grains of spices used in Indian cooking have big roles to play. Cumin and fennel, for instance, help build tissue and flush out toxins from the system.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.