Feed Your Starved Intellect & Beat Stress

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | TOI, The Speaking Tree | p. 22, May 17, 2017

The problem of stress is very common. Almost all of us suffer from stress and so we need to find a method for de-stressing. In my experience, there is no mechanical technique of de-stressing. Such a technique could be applied only to a robot, not to a living human being.

The first step is to diagnose the problem of stress. This is the beginning of the process of de-stressing. In my view, stress is actually a problem of starvation. Just as our body needs food, without which we would go hungry, so also does our intellect need ‘food’. When we have a feeling of stress what we are actually experiencing is intellectual or spiritual starvation.

A verse from the Bible which is part of the Lord’s Prayer says: “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

These words are meant to indicate to us the course we need to take in self-training. It tells us that we need to feed our spiritual starvation. But this can happen only if we learn how to extract spiritual food from our daily experiences.

In nature, it is the honeybee which demonstrates this method by extracting nectar from flowers and making food from it for itself. Similarly, there is spiritual nectar for a person in every experience that he faces. This nectar has to be extracted on a daily basis from the experiences we have every day. If we fail to do so, we shall suffer from spiritual starvation.

For example, while at work in your office, you may feel that you are being discriminated against. If you reflect on the matter, you will find that what you faced was not a result of the D-factor, but of the Q-factor. That is, the reason for this was not discrimination but was rather your own deficiency in whatever qualities were required in your office. Discovering this is like extracting nectar. Once you have extracted this ‘nectar’ you will find positive lines on which to think. You will focus on improving the quality of your work and soon see that there will be no more ‘discrimination’.

People generally live in a self-centred world. They know about themselves, but remain unaware about others. Therefore every person tends to overestimate himself while he underestimates others. This disparity in thinking results in stress. If you are able to eliminate this disparity and adopt a realistic approach, you will certainly be able to lead a stress-free life.

Stress is often due to recalling past failures or worrying about the future. A simple solution for the mental anguish caused by past failures is to forget them; similarly, a simple solution for worrying about the future is that you should think about the problem only if it becomes a reality rather than worry in advance. Very frequently what one worries about does not become a reality, so there is no need to worry about it beforehand.

I know a student who was so very worried about the result of his exam that he had to be hospitalised. But when the results came out, he had passed the exam with good marks. In this experience, there was nectar for the student – that is, he should have waited for the result rather than become worried in advance.

Stress may be equated with intellectual starvation. If you discover the art of feeding the intellect, you will never have to complain of stress.