Channel anxiety the right way

Anxiety motivates the mind to accomplish the task on hand and excel to produce high octane stuff, writes Ravi Valluri

Rambunctious crowds in the cauldron, millions riveted to the idiot box, and a zillion other connected through social media, with a bated breath follow an India- Pakistan cricket match. It seems eons ago that hockey was our national game and our pride. India were tipped to defeat arch rivals Pakistan in the 1982 Asian Games. But the home team was vanquished by the neighbors from across the border, 7-1. Gloom prevailed in the Indian contingent and the nation was ashen-faced as Pakistanis celebrated with euphoria.

Meanwhile Kapil’s Devils, befuddling all cricketing pundits, forestalled the West Indians’ attempt to triumph in the Prudential Cup for the third consecutive time. Cricket was soon to replace hockey as our national passion and obsession. More than three decades later two crucial games were being played in the land of our former colonial masters, England, on 18th of June this year. India worsted Pakistan 7-1 in hockey (a similar score line when we lost in the year 1982).

However, millions of hearts were broken as India suffered the ignominy of losing by 180 runs in the Champions Trophy. Did Virat Kohli err by opting to field, instead of relying on our famed batting potential? Were Indians petrified to face the breakneck pace of Pakistani fast bowlers? These are secrets which will perhaps forever remain in the closet.

Sameer, was armed with a degree in management from an estimable institute. Having specialised in the field of marketing management, he was well versed with the 4Ps of marketing. The young trainee fantasised at this juncture of his life about joining a FMCG company, earning a Falstaffian salary and over a period acquire an opulent property in the up-market area of the town.

But there was an element of hesitation in his mind about successfully crossing the final hurdle – the interview. As the mind was not in the present moment and fixated on the future it remained anxious and continuously agitated. Thus, it was not in a state of equilibrium, equipoise and equanimity.

Meanwhile, Siddhartha his school mate majored in architecture and apprenticed at celebrated architectural firm in the city.

Siddhartha however, was not content in designing buildings. He possessed a febrile mind which ached to pursue a greenfield area called entertainment design. The stripling self-taught himself and acquired ultra-modern and newfangled skill sets. Fortified with the newly acquired knowledge he launched to prepare a portfolio consisting of visionary and ingenious graphics, sketches and paintings. Yet, mentally he was anxious, tense and strained as to what lay in future.

It is a normal human tendency to be apprehensive prior to anxious situations as it is not in the present moment. Several individuals become splenetic and waspish. Invariably there is a churning in the abdomen region and the mind is subsumed with anxiety.

Arjuna, in possession of a lethal arsenal was benumbed seeing the mammoth army of the Kauravas. This, even though Lord Krishna was his charioteer. At zero hour prior to the showdown at Kurukshetra he lay down his weaponry. The consummate warrior could not distinguish between righteousness and malevolence. The demons in his mind were eventually dispelled through Vishwarupa Darshan of Lord Krishna and the song celestial- The Bhagvad Gita.

It may be pertinent to mention that an element of anxiety is paramount to act as a trigger. It motivates the mind to accomplish the task on hand and excel to produce high octane stuff. However, if the level of fear and anxiety exceeds an optimum level, it acts as an impediment in optimizing performance and achieving the goals envisaged. The nervous system of an overwrought and flurried individual becomes highly stressed resulting in a below par performance.

Psychologists have advanced a two-pronged strategy to combat such inhospitable states, firstly by closely monitoring the piquant state and taking prompt and effective action and second, by avoiding and blunting the situation.

Monitoring involves taking several proactive steps. Advanced and well-rehearsed preparation prior to a significant event; this is tapasya and no one can relax on this ground. The mind should be resolute and robust to incessantly practice like the celebrated archer Arjuna. Another step is continuous rehearsals primarily involve the concept of visualisation. Creating conditions of a mock run of the event within the amphitheater of the mind is a time-tested strategy.

In the process, the individual de-clutters the mind and gets rid of the baggage of anxiety and fear. The Inoculation technique is another effective strategy. An individual insulates the self against the perils of stress through constant exposure to rehearsals and role playing. This mentally toughens up the candidate to be prepared for the scrutiny and appraisal with utmost confidence and credence. Further, adopting a positive dispensation is invaluable.

It would be sagacious for an individual to make an inventory of possible deficiencies and the ways and means to overcome them through efficacious thoughts. Finally, seeking the help of family members, peer groups, friends, reading motivational literature to suffuse the mind with affirmative and propitious thoughts.

In addition, there are blunting tactics and strategies which help to augment the above. It is perspicacious and canny to drown in physical activity. It could be going for long walks, swimming, hitting the gym, taking up a sport or learning yogic techniques to destress. These activities release endorphins which assuage the mind. Simultaneously, an individual will appear chiseled and smart.

There are other ways to remain happy. For instance, join the Happiness Programme of the Art of Living to learn the unique rhythmic breathing technique of Sudarshan Kriya which calms the body and mind. Lean pranayama and various techniques of meditation to remain in the present moment.

For only when a human being is in the present moment which is inevitable is he insulated from anxiety and manages inexpedient and onerous situations.

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