Weekly Step 3: Rest

June 21, 2012

It is my belief that many western women are getting menstrual cramps and bad moods because they are not resting when they really need to. In fact, I feel it is essential for us all to tune in to ourselves and take rest. When you’re in the whirlpool you can’t see the chaos spinning around you because you’re spinning too. But when the water gets calm the dust can finally settle and clarity is unveiled. So too, when we take rest, solitude, silence and check out, we allow ourselves to let the chaotic, the mundane, the annoying, and all the ways we are caught up in our lives to finally settle down. When this happens, there will emerge little by little more clarity about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, whatever you choose to look into.

Remember however that after we stop shaking the jar, the liquid still moves for a while before it settles, so give yourself some time if you can to see the results.

I know some people don’t stop because they are afraid of what they might find if they did: the monsters in their minds or the fears they hold tucked down becoming clearer and in that clarity uglier. But the truth is, that is only a fear too.  Clarity within oneself is nothing to fear, it is an unimaginable strength and power. To know oneself and to be clear about what is within yourself and what is not is a skill you deserve.

The subtle strength and power born from clarity of the self needs not show it’s power over others nor does it cower away from the projected power of others. I believe Mahatma Gandhi exemplifies this skill quite well.

I suggest for the next week you commit to taking rest, silence & solitude.  Let the dust settle while you retreat. How? Just sit on your porch and gaze at the fields for a while. Shell some beans for half a day. Do something and nothing. Just allow yourself to take a break from anything mentally, emotionally and/or physically engaging. Take a break from social calls, internet, phones, family. Whatever are considered your duties, try to get a break. If you do meditation, this is a perfect opportunity to re0commit to your practice.  Make a schedule. Take a long weekend and make your ideal schedule for three whole days of solitude. What would you do with yourself? Not to check anything off your list of to-do’s but do the things you never put on that list of to-do’s. Like taking a walk.

If immediately you can not get so much time alone then make a plan. Until that plan you can devote 30 minutes each day or whatever is available in your schedule until you can take that longer break. In reality, rest is in the mind these days. If you can rest your mind and let everything flow around you while remaining undisturbed, that is ideal. But, for most of us it helps if we can settle the things around us to help settle us inside. Do what you can. Everything counts.

And now, for my three long days and nights of total rest…… My cocoon time.

Weekly Step 2: Let go

May 14, 2012

Really, just let go. Whatever it may be, however right you may be, and no matter how hurtful/bad/wrong/etc…

I read this sentence a few weeks ago and it struck a chord:
“Let go, let go, let go of me, little dog, and I will let go of you”.

Are there things you wish would transform or go away about yourself? So called demons or ego that pull you in directions you really don’t want to go?

Sometimes we feel like victims to these forces, but the truth is we are holding on to them and until we let go of them, until we empty our pockets, they will always be there. We are holding on to so much. For example, we want to let go of anger but when someone tries to hurt us, and we know we are right about it, anger is our ‘justified’ reaction to shield us. In order to let go of it we would have to face our pain and our feeling of vulnerability. That’s hard and we think it’s less painful than holding on to our anger/ grudge/ fill-in-the-blank. The question is: Is it?

This week- relax, breathe, and let go.. no matter what it is or what you think about it.

A phenomenal book to help you with this week’s step: ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer.

He advises the following:
1. Observe, don’t participate.
2.Don’t feed the energy whirlpools.
3. Relax and release from the pull (the urge to go there). The moment you feel your energy or your mind shift: relax your shoulders and the area around your heart.
4. Open your heart in face if anything and everything. Let it flow through you.

One step at a time. This week, let it go.

Please, share your experience!

How to climb a mountain? One step at a time.

This week, we will focus on looking within. As often as you can and at least every hour we will check-in with ourselves.

That’s it.
You can try….
How am I doing right now?
Where am I?

Not your mental head, not your emotions, just the I that is always there with you.

Often we are in ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’ land- ‘I can’t believe she said/did ___’. Now whenever you find your attention absorbed in thoughts and emotions about others, bring it back in. What about me?

This is ‘I’ week.
Find yourself and don’t let go.

I always found small goals to be more attractive in my mind than really big ones- regarding the personal growth sector. Run three miles every day or run three every day this week only… invariably I will be more committed to the shorter term commitment. It always feels less daunting and like I will get a prize or something at the end. Open-ended goals seem to lose their holding power in my mind.
In that spirit I have undertaken weekly goals for self-improvement. Many of these are simple and universal ideas from the great spiritual traditions. We read about them, agree with them, and then hope we’ve already got enough of them in practice and that’s where it usually ends.
Each Monday is the start of a new week.
This week has been “Silence and Introspection”. Like a little mantra whenever I feel the urge to chit chat or complain about something or argue my opinion or watch other people doing, thinking, acting (and even judging what I observe); I start reminding myself of my goal this week and allow it to soothe me back into shape.

It has been mostly very successful- even when I didn’t keep my mouth quiet, I was able to reflect later if it would have been better to have kept to myself or say what I did.

These are all about looking at ourselves in closer detail and with manageable steps for spiritual or call it human progress/purification.
The good news is we can return to any one week and try it again later if we really felt it was good for us. But keep the time frames short so they don’t get lost in the closet and stay fresh in our minds and consciousness.

Do you have any suggestions for a week?

Like a Bank Clerk

December 29, 2011

There is a wonderful Indian analogy and advice for yoga practitioners, indeed for all.

Be like a bank teller.

When the clerk receives two thousand dollars he does not get bloated with pride and ego. Nor does he cry when he hands out four thousand dollars to another client.
A bank teller remains equal tempered in his position, steady as things come and go. He doesn’t have sticky hands, clinging to the money.

We too should be steady as things (materials, relationships, money, health etc.) come and go in our lives, not clinging or repelling anything.

And by doing this, we will always be content with whatever comes and whatever may go realizing that our happiness does not depend on either of these two.

The Monk and the Sword

December 20, 2011

This is a powerful story I have been told a few times here in India. It goes something like this….

There is a Monk in the forest who has relinquished all worldly life and material possessions. He is only living for his sadhana practice, a practice of stilling his mind from any thoughts. One day a man comes through the forest and meets the monk. He asks the monk, who is sitting under a tree in meditation, if he could leave his sword there for a while and if the monk will watch over it until he returns. The monk doesn’t see any problem with that and tells him to leave it there by the tree.

Some days have passed with the sword sitting there next to the monk. The monk goes to fetch some water from the nearby river. He takes only a couple steps and looks back at the sword. He thinks, ‘what if someone takes it while I am gone? That man would come back and be upset with me. I should carry it with me.” He doesn’t even know how to hold a sword so he takes it awkwardly and carefully to the river.

One day, on his way to the river a thought arises in his mind: “Oh, what if I hold the sword like this, as the soldiers do?” and places his hand on the handle. He feels the sword and thinks to himself how nice it is to hold the sword. With the sword in his hand, a thought enters his mind that he should see how this sword is used,  so he just takes one swing and cuts a stalk of a plant growing out of the earth.

In the following days, that man does not yet come to take his sword back, and the monk who was sitting quietly in the forest has started to cut down many things. Even he has begun to kill animals. When the stranger finally comes to reclaim his sword, the man who was once on a path of meditation and liberation is now a mighty hunter and ‘king’ of the forest.

This story is told to illustrate the powerful effect objects have on our psyche. There are many traditional Indian customs around material objects (mostly lost today). If a person came to your house and wanted to give you something but it was something you didn’t need or want, they would say ‘You keep it for me. If it is with you, it is the same as if it is with me.” This dually acknowledges that we are one, a fundamental idea behind Indian philosophy and culture. Very strictly it was their practice not to let one single pin inside their house if it was not necessary. Quite contrary to what we see today across the globe.

They had good insight as to why such rigorous boundaries should be maintained. Even a pin will have an influence over my mind. According to the Indians, all objects were created for an intention of use. That object inherently desires to be used as it was intended for. This is how the sword laying simply under the tree with the monk draws his thoughts to it and how he is pulled by it’s main purpose of existence: to kill.

I have experienced this and I have seen it with other people.

The computer is a very strong tool we have created. I left mine in storage when I came to India. I didn’t have a computer in my house for over a year. I read books and did other activities that made me very happy. Until…now. Now we have a computer and internet. When I enter the room where it is kept I feel this desire, without any impending reason, to use it, to check my email, write on this blog, research some topics etc.

I agree that we should carefully evaluate the impact of any object we take into our homes. Though they may be very good tools for us, such as the computer, what is its effect on us? Should we keep it in the home or elsewhere?

Our homes are filled with materials. Why are we so happy when we do a spring cleaning and throw stuff out? Would we be even happier if we took that up to a new level and really evaluate what is essential, keeping only those items?

They say here that by keeping any material we are then tied to protecting it. It causes us to develop attachments which lead to sorrows if we loose these objects and thus require many efforts to protect them from being lost. If we can lessen our material life, we will have more money from our jobs, less stress about protecting the materials we own and hopefully detachment that will free us from suffering when materials are lost or broken. We will have a clear mind that is not under the influence of objects which are not appropriate for us.

Traditionally an Indian would never ‘Buy two, get one free”.

They would buy one.

#Occupy The Self

November 20, 2011

Our ego is the the 1% and the heart is the suppressed 99%.

What is the use of tearing down Bank of America when we ourselves have similar corruptions in our own minds, greedy and deceiving not only our friends and families but even our very selves? What are our self interests and what is the ‘self’ in which these interests claim to serve?

Numerous examples are there….

Without any solid evidence we blame others and even prosecute them in our minds, words or actions. We ourselves don’t want to be wrong or to take responsibility. ‘Who took my _____?’ Then we discover later that actually we misplaced ____ ourselves. Often even after recognizing our error, we won’t apologize because of pride.

We’ll interrupt others speaking because our ego feels it is more important. Observe how the television, advertisements, etc. talk to us, not with us. There is generally a one-way communication channel with the 1%.

The 1% hungers without satisfaction for more. We receive gifts, food, shelter, money, clean air to breathe and earth to walk on without any gratitude or recognition. We feel we deserve what we get that is good. What we have is never enough- there is a new this or a latest that which we are craving and consuming. We too are trapped in the mindset of exponential growth syndrome, insatiable hunger. The corporations are no different, increasing bonuses and profits without any sight of satisfaction or a sense of what is enough.

We give gifts not from our hearts with humbleness, we give gifts because we want something in return. Corporations give us a token, discount, or a ‘sign up for a free ____’, so they snatch us and our wallets to spend spend spend. Where has generosity gone? Where is genuine customer care?

Though we may acknowledge the fuel-burning jets are contributing to global warming and all it’s implications, we still can’t restrain ourselves at the grocery store from buying those out-of-season specialties that have come from those very jets. Often we are completely deluding ourselves when we think we’re better than anyone else because we shop locally or organically. Look in your pantry. Who among us doesn’t consume sugar, chocolate, coffee, tea, and countless other luxury commodities which have now become to us ‘essential’ commodities.

What about our healthcare? Do we take care of our own health or contract it out to others? Are we serving the 99% when we push our bodies to stay up late for a t.v. show, to over-exert ourselves, to consume take-out and too-good-to-resist junk food? Are we taking care of our ‘subordinates’ health like our children when we don’t have time to make their food and serve them processed foods?

Sometimes we keep our selves misinformed under the guise that ‘ignorance is bliss’. We are afraid of the Truth and what changes that may imply. If we acknowledge certain things are simply not working for us, we will be obligated to change those things. So really, our ____ isn’t so bad. If we really look, we know. Of course we know but we choose to ignore or we control the ‘media’ input to ourselves. Likewise, if the corporations acknowledge even a fraction of the Truths about themselves and their actions, they would be forced to change.

 

Let’s not be hypocrites. Ought we to ‘fight the good fight’ on both frontiers? Let us redefine the world we want to inhabit by redefining ourselves and leading by example. Look with scrutiny at the truth of our own state. Leave no stone unturned. If everyone led this movement by example of the very principles which we are asking for from others, there certainly would be a shift and that shift would be within the hearts of the people. Why not take this outrage as a great opportunity to practice. Practice generosity. Practice Truthfulness. Practice non violence in your thoughts. Practice all the noble qualities.

Ghandi’s wise advice: “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world”.

Suffering as blessing

November 9, 2011

Imagine you are a rock in the slingshot. You are ready to strike, fly through the air like a weightless thing…when suddenly you seem to be moving backwards and backwards. ‘What is going on?’ Actually we should be going over there.
Suffering is our momentum to launch forward into the life we want to live; it is consciousness shining a spotlight. Actually, we are constantly doing, thinking, speaking and generally moving along in our lives. There may be a problem with the engine of our car but unless it shows any outward signs, smoking, noise-making, engine lights blinking, we keep moving along unaware of any problems though they exist. The same is true for our lives and our bodies. The more sensitive we are to the subtleties, the earlier we can catch the warning signs before we get stranded on the highway without a cell phone! If we are too busy and preoccupied we may not recognize the symptoms before they become painfully obvious. Sometimes we want to ignore the signs because we need to ‘get there’: do our job, feed our families, take care of everyone else’s needs and expectations of us before we take care of ourselves.
Suffering, though we feel like it is painful, is really only the recognition of a pain we’ve been feeling all along, of some discord beneath the surface of our consciousness. We should honor our pain, for without it how would we ever heal, change, grow…..

How else will we fly with open arms into happiness?

Before anything

October 20, 2011

Before anything:
Before the universe was created
Before you were born
Before a thought arises
Before a storm
Before a vibration ripples through the air
Before the meditative state

Before ANYTHING.

There is silence.

Deepen your understanding of inner and outer silence before you attempt to understand anything else.

When hard times hit

June 28, 2011

How else will we find the truth unless we ask for it, and how do we decide to ask for it unless prompted by some doubt? So the conditions for doubt arise in our lives.

Wherever we feel insecurity, darkness, fear, sadness; that is exactly the place begging for us to ask questions. That is the morning light of a new consciousness and we must see it through for full transformation.

Until this point it is assumed that everyone should wish to know the truth- why would anyone want to live under the haze of illusion? This is one of my principle assumptions but it is simply not true. Why? One who’s fear is that they are really unloveable would be terrified of the truth because in their minds this could possibly be true and to know this, really know it as fact would be unbearable.

How to escape this self-imposed psychological imprisonment and slavery to fear?

If you suspect someone you love is cheating you or lying to you, that is a huge suffering. You may go on for years in anguish too timid to find out. But what is the WORST thing that can really happen? If they are, then definitely there may be some difficulty at the beginning but you know one thing for sure is that you will put an end to it.

Religions, friends and mothers can all tell you the good loving truths that make you feel at peace and have the potential to dispel all your myths-turned-fears but it is you and you alone who must desire to know these truths for yourself. Otherwise though they may be true, your scepticism will blind you.

The only way I know how to overcome this dilemma is by experience. Experience of suffering for a long time in that ‘affraid to know’ place: denial and constant telling myself stories of how things must be a certain way- pretending to know rather than really ever asking. When finally I got very depressed (condition and opportunity arising for me to ask some serious questions) it came from within very strongly that I should know truthfully EVERY singly thing in my life that causes me suffering. To only suffer a little, a ‘tolerable’ amount, to let some things slide is still unhappiness and suffering. To eradicate any trace I decided that no pain caused be truth was worth a prolonged ‘behind-the-scenes’ pain- ignorance and illusion.

One day you may wake up and whether you want to or not you may see the walls of the prettified castle you built around yourself crumble down. Because you were too afraid to look outside of those walls you now see how you could have spent all those years outside of that illusion or delsusional happy state, or mediocre state or good enough state. You will not get that time back.

Are you seeking the truth for everlasting peace? Are you afraid of suffering and why? Are you ready to love yourself so fiercely that you’ll ask any question? …and then really listen for the answer?

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