The clock is ticking

Past few days, I have been feeling like I am on a countdown. As though the clock is ticking and I can hear it inside me, around me, everywhere. And I am left wondering – I don’t know how much time is left for this countdown to end. I sat for days watching the clock tick away. Watching regrets rise, watching fears take misshapen forms. Feeling the urge to fix things, repair things. Feeling the need to rush to loved ones. Feeling isolation, feeling separated, feeling desperation and the pain of not knowing.

And then I stopped watching. I can still hear the clock ticking away in the background. But, from anxiety the thoughts are moving to living. From fear it is moving to gratitude. From worry it is moving to action. From restlessness it is moving to stillness. No two moments are the same. And as different as it is, as unsettling as it feels, it also feels grounding. Like it is time to grow my roots deeper into myself. Into the things that really matter.

It is time to grow from being a helpless child, unwilling to step outside her cocoon, still wanting someone to take care of her, to a person who is ok not knowing things. From being a fearful, anxious, self-judgmental spiritual seeker to a being who is beginning to understand that though she knows a lot, she understands little and practices even lesser.

Now, this ticking moment, is a moment to do what I have never done before. What I have avoided, felt uncomfortable doing. It is a ticking reminder to be silent, to be still, to look inside and accept who I am. Flaws and all. But it is also time to give up useless conversations, useless thoughts, useless memories, a time to empty all the knowledge and create space inside for God. Or rather to remove the clutter, so I can find the real Self inside.

It is time to give away freely all that I have. A time to stop hoarding what I feel is ‘me’ and ‘mine.’ A time to break barriers. A time to strip myself of all adjectives, synonyms, similes and metaphors, to see what remains.

And the clocks ticks. Tells me there is really not that much to do. Stop doing. Be here now. Stay in the present. There is really nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be. Join with the ever-present stillness, peace and joy. If an action or emotion emerges, honour it. And that is all there is to life. Living it with a honesty. Living it with a simplicity. Living it without frills and fanfare because the clock is ticking.

The clock is ticking and I can see the Oneness in all there is. People coming together, universe sending support in unexpected ways. So much good and gracious in what could be the dark hours. All we really need is light. Inside us, if we can hold it. Or someone near us who holds it for us when we aren’t able to shine ours.

Red said it very wisely in Shawshank Redemption – Get busy living or get busy dying. I think I chose the former.

Whom will you hang out with today?

A couple of days ago, I chanced upon the video of Oprah talking to Adyashanti, on her Super Soul Sunday show. The way Adyashanti was talking about living life connected with me. The word ‘dignity’ popped into my head. I thought about GD and how he lives. I thought about a few more people I know on the path and how they live their lives.

Be it spiritual masters or students on the path, everyone has to participate in daily activities and experience situations that do not fit the ‘spiritual’ tag. But what struck me about them and what I have not yet managed to learn, is how I go about my life. I am still stuck between wanting to live a simpler, ‘less affected by social norms’ life vs having deep attachments to family, clothes, and dark chocolates! And so I am automatically critical about myself. Perfection is a virus that seems to have deeply infected my system and I am extremely critical about “where I assume I am on the path,” pull myself down for not doing enough, and beat myself up for still having desires and attachments.

As I thought about the journey of those who I now admire, I realized everyone has gone through this graph. But the difference between them and me seemed to be the dignity with which they went about their lives. They gave no importance to anything that has happened and did not categorize it as spiritual or un-spiritual. They simply kept learning, putting into practice what they were learning and letting go of anything that came between them and God. When I look at their lives, I see humility, acceptance and compassion towards everyone including themselves. The base of their existence seems to be a silence, an observation of what happens, and a pause before they respond. All this is based not just on their mind or intelligence, but on their connection with the silence, with the Divine.

I thought what my life lacked was dignity. But as I explore this, it is apparent to me that dignity is another ego goal; what I can see in them and what I believe is lacking is serenity. I yearn for serenity. That still space, unaffected by life around it. And this is where my learning lies. I realize not only am I tough on myself and others, but most often I am not even aware of what I am doing. Life seems to be based on judging myself, feeling afraid, rejecting my own thoughts, feeling small and silly, and reacting to all this. And yet I can see, this is normal for most minds. It is the space the mind keeps returning to. When GD reminded me on Sunday that I am obsessed with myself, this is what he had meant. A life spent listening to the mind results in a hurried, stressful life. From the kiddo’s school project to the husband busy at work, everything seems to be a conspiracy against you – a poor helpless soul.

But as a student on the path, I know this much. I have a choice. I know a life with the mind, minus the Divine, is a small, petty, un-glorious life. It seems to be a life spent in self-glorification, protection, defense, confusion or indulgence. On the other hand, a life with the Divine seems to be one of stillness, serenity and peace. And I have experienced many moments of this connection.

So I ask myself today, who do I want to hang out with? My mind ( so that I can beat myself up a bit more) or with God ( unexpected, unknown day but serene).

I know I will choose God. Who will you choose?

 

 

 

 

Discovering who I truly am

I have known for years that the spiritual path leads to the discovery of “Who I am.” Honestly, I had no clue what that really means. My mind has always assumed that the discovery of who-I-am would mean a series of mind-blowing, earth-shaking, soul uplifting experiences. Today as I sat transcribing one of my conversations with GD in which he helped me see how afraid I am of him, it came to me slowly… a tiny nudge on my shoulder, a tap-tapping on my brain, a gentle dawn… that as I acknowledge the games played by my mind, as I willingly let go of thoughts, beliefs, and a carefully constructed personality, I am moving closer towards discovering “who I truly am.”

Like most people the thought of “discover who you truly are” left me with esoteric goals of seeing light bodies and other dimensions. While those are probably part of the learning, I never realized how these conversations with GD were resulting in a deeper connect with my real self.

The ways of the mind are not pleasant to acknowledge and accept. Initially, every time I saw something that needs to be released, it would send me into a tizzy with even more stories so that I could avoid the truth that had just been revealed to me. But I can see now, that knowing “who I am” has to do with learning to consistently choose truth, honesty, clarity and integrity. However hard it may seem. I have realized that the sooner I accept and work on what is being revealed, the lighter I feel. Trying to escape only leads to chaos, guilt and pain. It is far more sensible, if you truly are a student on the path, to work on clearing these from your system.

Our beliefs, fears, thoughts and habits are not meant to be carried on and on for years. It is in their undoing, in the undoing of the mind, ego and personality, that lies the discovery of who we truly are.  If I remember this, then the time spent in being a victim throwing pity parties for myself, denial, anger and confusion, gets shorter and shorter as I progress on the path.

I have invested years in building my personality, intelligence and knowledge. It had left me with a void, with not knowing what I truly wanted, what made me happy or who I was. With GD, as I shed one thought, one belief, one fear after the other, I know I am walking closer to knowing the truth.

The less of the world there is on me, the more space I am opening up to God. The more I shed my mind, the lighter I feel. The more silence inside, the higher the possibility of hearing God. I am discovering that knowing “who-you-truly-are” is not really spiritual. It is not just another experience. It is not just another event. It really is the journey itself.

The quest for perfection

For a few days now, I have been restless about judging my dad for something. Spirituality brings with it the awareness that judgements we have about others is usually something we judge ourselves for. But it is never easy to look at the things that make you uncomfortable, and so, for a few days now I have been avoiding doing some clearing work on this.

But as I prayed today morning, I felt ready to release this judgement. I am learning to honour guidance and started tapping. I usually use a combination of EFT, Clearing questions and forgiveness when I work on something. I find it works really well for me.

Aware that I needed to be honest and non-judgemental, I acknowledged all the judgements I had about my dad. It was tough to vocalize or say what I really feel, but as I tapped, I was able to release all these judgements. Remembering that these were just thoughts in the head and to not engage in guilt, made it easier to be honest.

As I tapped it the thoughts turned from the judgements about dad to judgements about other family members. Events and incidents of the past came up and led to memories of feeling judged when I was younger. As I tapped, I was also able to acknowledge hidden anger at him and others.

Interestingly, as it was ending it led to the quest for perfection, competing with God (who I believe is perfect), guilt for choosing separation from God and living as a “I”, and mostly about never really feeling perfect, good enough, or worthy. I ended it by doing forgiveness. Forgiving my dad, forgiving family, asking for forgiveness for judging them, forgiveness for indulging in this useless quest for perfection, and for believing in something called perfection.

All my life I have seen people around me struggle with their thoughts and beliefs about perfection. I have seen my mom live a life which would receive the approval of all and I in turn grew up believing that I had to be perfect too. I had to cook perfectly, be the perfect mom, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, friend, acquaintance. As I tapped today, I experienced immense anger at how I have been believing in the wrong word and its wrong meaning all my life.

I want my dad to be a perfect dad, family wanted me to behave in a way they felt perfect, others in turn had the same expectation from those family members. It turns out the whole world is trying to live up to either their notion or someone’s notion of being perfect! This led me to question – if everyone wanted perfection, then is the meaning of perfect the same for everyone? No! For someone being perfect could mean giving more importance to helping others than cleaning their home, for others being perfect could mean choosing family over helping neighbours… And yet, we spend lifetimes in this quest for perfection.

As I tapped, it became clear to me that in my eyes God is perfect. That it is only God whom I can associate the word perfect with. But that didn’t meant that God had a standardized behavior. Because each of us has our own unique relationship with God. Then what does perfect mean!

If God meant perfection, it means perfection is allowance. Perfection is being accepting of differences, perfection is being flexible, perfection is being forgiving. Perfection means allowing others to be fragile, foolish, fearful. But most of all perfection is forgiving.

As I ended the clearing, I felt lighter because I had my own flexible definition of perfection. We all need to find our own definitions sometimes, because when we attribute inflexible meanings to words, we are limiting ourselves and others. And what I still need to remember is this is still not about finding the right meaning. There is no right and no wrong. Just remembering that allows me to be human as I look for the Divine.

The ways of grace

In what has been a tough year, the shower of grace has been both unexpected and welcome. The body has been battered and yet there has been enough grace to see that even in the lowest moments, there has been the support of some remarkable individuals I am privileged to know. What I thought was gone, returned with the fresh promise of newness; what is painful struck like a tornado, but is taking away lifetimes of debris in its wake.

Isn’t it grace that gifts you a live master who is ever so patient and compassionate. There is nothing that GD has not taught me, because at the core of it the most important lessons are the simplest ones. And yet he devotes the time and energy to keep re-explaining and reminding me of the same things. He patiently guides me back again and again to remembering the our true nature, even as I whine about people, health and God.

And then there is my Sai, our Sai Baba. Kind, compassionate and patient. He has been guiding me since childhood, watching over me, protecting me all the time. Even as I have walked past him without a glance on my good days, even as I chose to sob in front of his picture while I was in pain. And yet he smiles, frowns, scolds and laughs as I fumble on and feel overwhelmed with my new-found connection with him. He has everything to give, I am trying my hardest to make sure I receive.

So what is grace? Is it the ability to have miracles in your life? No. It is the blessing to stay courageous and believe, no matter what. GD reminded me even a couple of days ago, life is hard and it foolish to hope otherwise. Grace, I have learnt, is to allow what is happening to happen, resist nothing and know you are taken care of. And in that trust, peace arrives. Grace is not a guarantee for everlasting joy, happiness and prosperity. Grace is a movement to understanding that nothing matters but the presence of God in your heart. Grace is life allowing you to pray for others, asking for God to take care of your loved ones and watch him do it. Grace is being open to the lessons that arrive when you need them and recognizing them when they come. Grace is staying humble in the knowledge that you are not special, but you are special to God ( a valuable reminder to me from Baba).

My wish is for everyone to recognize this grace when it arrives in your life. Being open to the little moments of tranquility and stillness that are present between the chaos. I once that we could also lose Grace. Now, I believe that the only thing we lose is our ability to witness it. Because Grace is ever present, every ready to shower you with its gifts. The question is are you ready to receive it. If yes, be aware of its presence.

Laws of 20 minutes

Is it possible to move beyond the mind? I look around me at my family and friends, and feel no. How earth do ‘I’ ever do it? Then I look at my teacher GD, my god Sai Baba, all the spiritual teachers across the earth, and I feel this peace, this possibility emerge inside. ‘Of course it is possible’, says something inside. ‘You are just too scared to try’. And then I choose, because all our choices, GD says, are either based on love or fear. So I choose from love. I want silence.

GD recently warned us about the dangers of being too dependent on healing, clearing and other techniques. Turns out, he reminded our spiritual circle about it in 2009 as well, when I wasn’t in the group. Hearing a talk on the Value of Silence by him back then, I discovered a real treasure. Excerpts from that conversation as he says and I understood it, follow:-

Most of the silence in our life is replaced with words. But how much information do you really want to be able to stay silent for 20 minutes a day. The ego loves knowledge and so that is why we need even information on how to stay silent. So here are some laws of 20 minutes:-

  • Don’t aim to reach anywhere.
  • No desire to understand anything.
  • No desire to silence the mind
  • No desire to relax the body. They are but sensations that arise.
  • No desire to control the environment
  • No war with the world or yourself.
  • No desire to improve self-

Self-improvement is an outside goal; silence tells you everything is inside, it is here. There is a simple allowing that exists during those 20 mins. You as ego don’t interfere. There should be no you. Doing, fixing, improving is a continuous process and all doing implies a future. Choose to rest in the now.  A Course in Miracles says, “God is so kind he has given you fulfillment from the time before you are born.” But we never notice it.

So don’t insist on mental silence. If you find silence difficult, use music or a discourse because this involves pure listening. Pure listening doesn’t involve the thought or mind. Don’t insist on anything, because that is what you are doing the rest of the day. Just stay awake, stay dead.

Soon, if you are lucky, you will find you will spend your entire day in surrender. Everything just happens. How will you know? Because there won’t be a struggle. Ego only knows struggle and fight. But don’t try and be clever. Don’t convert negative thoughts to positive in these 20 minutes. Everything is allowed. During this journey, if you get even a whiff, for even a second… this bliss of surrender is so beautiful that then, nothing else matters.

The gift of discomfort

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced a mini anxiety-attack. It came after a long gap of two years. I thought I had broken all ties with anxiety, tapped all remnants of it out of my system, and bid it a grand goodbye. And so when it knocked on my door again, I was flabbergasted and very uncomfortable. Here I was teaching others how to cope with anxiety and get rid of it, and it had the audacity to visit me again!

Since I started this spiritual journey, life has been interesting. So instead of the usual panic, I actually sat back and looked at it. The first visitor was the why. “Why did I get it again? Why is it still part of my life? Why did I have to always endure this?” “It is because you are unwell with a stomach bug and are weak,” chimed in another thought. “Why?” whined the third. Get the picture?

And then, in marched my spiritual training. “Its all in the mind,” said the mind. Instead of crying or panicking like I usually do, I found myself with a body which had all the necessary spiritual knowledge but was struggling with awareness. I turned to a friend and meditation. It was only then that the answers started rolling in and with it GD’s lesson – “Whatever you choose is for the moment. This moment is the only truth. Stay ‘now’ with what you feel, tomorrow if you feel different or after 5 mins if you feel different, it is OK. Just look deeply at what this moment is and honour that.”And then, just like that, I was comfortable.

You see the thing about discomfort, physical or emotional, is that it is a signal to look deeper. The moment you stay with your discomfort, allow your body to feel it, and explore it, you usher in great clarity, which is followed by peace. Invariably all spiritual inquiry leads you to guilt, fear or shame. These are the primary three emotions that cause us discomfort. But to keep you trapped the mind will never look at what caused these emotions, it shuns and rejects anything that frees us from its trap and moves us towards freedom. And that is why we feel being comfortable is normal and uncomfortable is something to fear.

This precisely why it is necessary to re-train the mind and body. It is necessary to know and believe that this discomfort is part of a larger process of learning. Discomfort means there is a lesson in there somewhere, a movement from where you are to where you can be. It turns a nuisance only if you fight it and refuse to let it leave you with the message it carries. Discomfort is really not bad because time and again we have seen that great literature or inventions are often the product of discomfort and strife. Yes, discomfort can fuel you, but it is your choice if you burn or glow.  Use it mentally and you burn, use it spiritually and you glow.

One of the simplest lessons I have learned from GD is to resist nothing. Everything is just an experience in the end and so is this one. A beautiful quote I read yesterday spoke about how a seed must crack, break. lose parts of it so that it can grow. How true is that! We have to break ourselves, endure the cracks, and the falling of bits of us to be able to bloom. Discomfort can really be a gift. But only if we allow it to be.