Overcoming Fear, Anxiety and Stress with the Integral Approach, a six session interactive online programme, was conducted from 14th to 19th March 2022, under the aegis of NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health.
During the course of the programme, attendees along with six different facilitators explored the movements of fear, stress and anxiety that rise up so often inside us. Fear, stress and anxiety have now become part of the tapestry of modern life. They can become habitual and almost seem natural. But they are not because they come from a part of our being that is superficial and small.
The Mother says for good reason that, “Yoga and fear do not go together”. To a degree, fear represents spiritual suicide. However, Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga describes a way of going beyond the elimination of fear: it can even be transformed into courage. It is a hard-won process, based on building-blocks of faith.
The programme commenced with Dr. Alok Pandey’s talk titled, ‘Steps to Freedom and Mastery’, where he highlighted that the tendencies of fear, anxiety and stress are difficult to conquer and master as these are forces of nature, with millions of years of backing. Mastering these tendencies requires practice of Saiyama. Nigraha. Forcibly stopping the tendency outwardly is not the best way to overcome the unwanted tendency. In such a case the tendency will manifest in some other form. It is through Saiyama that the tendency can be regulated and brought under higher control of deeper will and deeper reason.
Dr. Yogesh Mohan’s session explored practical steps that we can consciously take on our ‘Journey towards a Stress-free State’. His talk focused on the fact that even a small shift from the outer surface living to going within to the inner space makes us realise that the overwhelming stress which we experience is only at the surface. An inward movement, going deeper within and invoking the inner presence makes us realise the triviality of the outer drama.
In the third session titled, ‘Journeying from Fear to Fearlessness’ Dr. Monica Gulati delved into the concept of ‘Parallel Consciousness’ as given by the Mother. The Mother advises us to become conscious of our inner movements - while remaining rooted in ourselves as consciousness. Once we become aware of the mind creating movements of fear, anxiety and stress, we get empowered with the ability to catch these movements as they arise and handle them either by consciously using the experience of the emotion to connect with all those who are experiencing fear or we may generate a more powerful vibration than fear. The need is to connect with the energy of consciousness that is the deeper reality than the reality of the surface movements. When we are rooted in it, it embraces and overpowers the surface reality. This energy of mindfulness can hold fear and not be disturbed by it in the same manner as the unchanging sky holds clouds as they appear and disappear.
‘Breathing Out Your Worries’, Pulkit Sharma’s session highlighted that fear has to be dealt at the physiological, psychological and spiritual levels. If one is rooted deeply in spirituality then working on fear at the spiritual level will automatically take care of fear at the physiological and psychological levels. On the other hand, if spiritual grounding is missing then the mayhem caused by fear at the psychological and physiological levels need to be taken care of first. Dealing with fear at the physiological level entails learning to modulate the body’s reaction to the fear eliciting stimuli. This can be done by learning to stabilise our breath. At the psychological level, we need to become mindful of the fear – observe it without actively engaging with it. Once we are able to look at fear objectively and realistically we will be able to plan as to how to handle the fear eliciting situation. At the spiritual level we need to invoke the Divine Presence and offer our fears to and ask for help from the Divine Force. An attitude of surrender is needed.
James Anderson’s session, ‘Unearth the Roots of Fear, Anxiety and Stress’ looked at ways of working through fear, anxiety and stress with consciousness. Consciousness can be exercised on any movement inside our nature, including the movements of fear, anxiety and stress. When we are looking at what is going on inside – at our inner movements, consciousness is very active. It allows us to detect any wrong movement as it arises within us. We must catch this wrong movement immediately as it arises with our consciousness. Once we have caught this vibration, we need to put a light on it – put the torchlight of consciousness on this vibration. We have the capacity to use our consciousness to catch these vibrations and simultaneously offer them to the Light - to the Fire inside – to the Mother.
Dr Soumitra Basu in the final session of the series talked about ‘Journeying from Fear to Fearlessness’. He elaborated upon the evolutionary history of fear, stress and anxiety. He highlighted that only with this evolutionary understanding can we learn to appreciate that whenever we face suffering in a conscious way it results in progress and evolution.
“All the aspects were so relevant and well structured.”
“What a tremendously powerful and healing workshop this was. Fear, stress and anxiety are part of day-to- day life and this workshop was much needed for it reassured me that there are ways to deal with these.
While Dr. Alok's session gave a comprehensive overview, Dr. Basu gave a very clear grounding of why these exist and it was very helpful to understand where these movements come from and why it is so hard to get rid of them. Dr. Yogesh's session was very soothing and it was very kind of him to share his experience with his patients. Similarly, Pulkit's and James' sessions were very healing and gave me lots of pointers on how to act in a stressful situation. I am immensely grateful to all the speakers for sharing their wisdom and healing energy with us.
“So many key concepts of Integral Yoga were either directly or indirectly alluded to in this workshop – many words were mentioned – Sincerity, Faith, Gratitude, Remember and Offer, Aspiration, Rejection, Surrender – the tools given to me in this workshop can be applied to a wide variety of situations. Each workshop I do with NAMAH is supremely beneficial to my own progress and for that I am grateful.”