Cricket is described as a game of glorious uncertainties. So is life, except here the uncertainties are not perceived by us as glorious. Researchers say we can’t handle life’s ‘what-ifs’. We go on a mental roller-coaster ride. Our eyes grow shadowed. It’s not just stress - it’s coupled with utter dread, a waiting-for-the-axe-to-fall tension.
We could develop ulcers, severe gastric problems, skin allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, cancer, heart disease or spiral into depression.
But, hold it... Shouldn’t uncertainty be exciting? For example, watching a tight game of tennis with its mounting ‘Advantage X’ and ‘Deuce’ is an edge-of-the-seat nail-biter. You don’t know who’s going to win. It’s not stressful, it’s stimulating.
Then why is uncertainty in life so stressful? It’s a statistical fact that during World War II, cases of peptic ulcers shot up by 50 per cent in Central London, which faced regular bombing. What’s astonishing was that on the outskirts of London, where the bombings were irregular and, hence, unpredictable, the cases of peptic ulcers jumped to a monumental 300 per cent!
To answer the first question: We have a strong discerning power. A sport is a sport, whereas life is serious stuff. When we are fearfully unsure, we are constantly in a semi fight-or-flight state. This lowers our adaptability. We can’t cope, can’t resist. What do we hold off? It’s like fighting a phantom. We can’t plan, can’t relax even for a few minutes, can’t lower our guard and say, “Okay, I’ll just go round the corner.” It’s being in helpless suspension that defeats us. Our natural protective T-cells decrease or turn sluggish — that’s how our immune response wears down.
Health science says a balanced approach is to practise ‘optimal mastery’. For example, if you feel a surgery is necessary, then decide to be the best patient in the operating theatre — relax, and surrender completely to the surgeon’s expertise, skill and good intentions. Decide you’ll come out of it completely cured.
On the other hand, if your instincts cry out against it, say no to the surgery option. Get several medical alternatives from non-surgeons. Check yourself into a health farm. Many people have been cured through detoxification combined with varied natural therapies (oil, mud, and so on), exercises and a healing shift in their thinking processes.
Build trust. The good news, say psychologists, is that the majority of imagined fears in everyday life are things that will never happen. We’ve got to trust life. Trust is a fantastic tool. Trust that life wants the best for you. To build trust, write this down every day and read it several times:
“With a mind full of peace,
And with a heart going out in love to all,
I go into the quiet of my interior self,
I hold the thought, ‘I am one with the Light, the life of my life.’
I as a spiritual being, Am completely at ease.
I open my body fully to the inflowing stream of Life Infinite,
And the tide is pouring in, coursing through my body,
And the healing is on.
I am fully aware of this and feel a quickening,
A warm glow imparted by the positive life forces to this body.
I am full of peace, full of health.”
This is ‘cognitive changing’. The power of this affirmation is such that you get out of the circle of fear into a higher sphere where no disease, no disquiet can reach. You exit the role of a helpless hostage and become a dynamic, conscious agent of peace, positivity and health.
When your mind rises above the line of fear, it picks up the affirmed thoughts given above and brings down some of the luminous peace, some power that transforms your thinking process. Done several times daily, this simple technique lets you touch tranquil harmony - a subtle feeling of being settled on a safe shore.
Create certainty. Have a nook or place that you can call your own. It’s where you go to gather the scattered strands of your mind and weave them into one comfortable, coherent composition. Here, you can copy down the above affirmation several times until you feel integrated, centralised, all there. If you’re an outdoor person, go for a long walk. There are other choices — weight-training to feel a sense of grounding, spending time under a tree, chilling out with friends, working on a hobby with soothing music playing in the background, meditating under loving guidance. These are simple effective ways to inject the predictable into an unpredictable life.
When there’s a certainty to look forward to (preferably at a fixed time), the uncertainties fade where you know they can be dealt with.
Above all, my earnest plea is, don’t fish in troubled waters. Too often, people go to court out of greed, not need. Or get into affairs that are doomed from the start. Please don’t make your life a painful odyssey full of conflicts and uncertainties. Fill it with love and mental ease. The Masters say, “The practice of peace is the most positive act you can invoke in your life.” It really is.
The writer is co-author of the book‘Fitness for Life’.