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.

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The Pathless Path

The rule of existence
is that anything you really-really want,
you will get.

But most of us are not very honest,
about what we are really-really wanting.

If you are truly on the path,
then want nothing except THAT.

Let all other desires, fears, needs and wants
fade into the background.
And let this seeking be the only thing,
the number one priority.

The mind interferes and distracts and justifies.
Slowly, slowly, go beyond all desires
till you want nothing, except to find and BE yourself.

So in the beginning, one has to think, ponder, meditate,
go for satsang, discuss everything, seek guidance.

One day, it is seen that the search
has itself become an obstacle.

The crazy mind makes huge efforts,
like a dog chasing its own tail,
tired, exhausted, but unable to surrender.

Once the basic work is done,
release all effort.
Once the inner ‘running’ ceases,
the luminous reality is revealed.

So just keep remembering again and again.
Where are you going to find yourself, except in yourself?
Because you are already You.

The world can give you nothing,
except a push to go back to your Self.

– GD

(The words above are from one of GD’s talks in 2010.)

You think any of this is real?

This is not a year-end review. Walking on a path to discover myself, move closer to myself and my true nature, one thing has become evident. To be bound by time is silly. This is an endless, timeless process of movement, and to mark or measure it against the end of the calendar year is silly. And so this is just a reminder and a record of where I am on the path right now. This blog started off as a personal journal. Over time it became my way of passing on my insights, lessons and observations to the world. Now as I move inside, it matters not if anyone reads this. But if someone does, I hope it helps them live their lives more meaningfully and mysteriously. I hope that you look beyond the things that make you sad or happy; I hope you look closely at yourself. Who are you is more important that who you are being right now. But in the end even that is just a story. You are a story, I am a story, Life is a story…But something is not. And that is what I am searching for now.

It has been almost two years since GD came into my life. I was not looking for a Guru or teacher, I was looking to connect with myself. And probably that is why at first I resisted visiting GD. I knew my life wouls change the moment I met him. All my lies and dramas would have be to shed and I was not ready for it. But apparently I was because I did choose one day to finally go meet the man, whose words were changing my life. In the year and half since, life has become an exploration, as adventure. Not the intimidating, fear and anxiety inducing, stressful, frustrating, challenging journey it was. All the triggers which caused this remain, but the responses have changed for good. Life is a dot. A tiny blimp in the cosmos and yet it is the very thing that created life, this universe, what we can see and all that our human mind can’t see.

I have come unstuck and I find that I am floating through whatever life brings my way. I cry, I ache, I laugh, I smile, I worry and it all ends. Because GD laughs in my ear, “you think any of this is real?” I look for God inside everyone. I rein in my judgements when I find I am listening to them and instead peer inside me for what it is inside me that I find reflected in this person ahead. And I find the answers more often than not. Oh yes, I still feel guilt and blame and all those useless emotions piled on me since lifetimes. I have not yet broken their bond, but I find that I am watching myself and understanding myself more than I ever did. If I get emotional or angry, instead of letting them flow senselessly, I can look at the cause and work on it quickly. I allow my tears to flow and my stupid jokes to bore. I am more comfortable being myself.

I find that this journey inside began with and is directly connected to my relationship with my body. I know when something I do is going to cause some reaction in my body. Sometimes when I lose touch with myself as it often happens), I find a response in my body. Sickness now makes me look inside me to see what is it that I am suppressing or ignoring, and this I have seen results in a quicker recovery.

I am trying to remove my bonds from everyone around and setting them free. And oh my God, how hard it is! But when you consciously interact with others and look at them as part of you, relating does become the focus and not trying to control them or prove yourself or let your insecurities dictate the conversation. This I have found is the hardest part of the journey- letting go of people and your expectations of them and their real/imagined expectations of you.

I always believed in God. But instead of expecting someone above to make my life better- living with greater awareness, understanding that I am not just this body-mind, chasing spiritual goals instead of material ones, has set me off in the right direction. I am moving towards light, I am living hand-in-hand with my teacher. Today I don’t know why but I feel the need to send a prayer from my heart out to everyone alive on earth. May you find your teacher, may you find your guide. It is such a blessing to have a teacher; I wish this blessing on everyone today.

Thank You, GD. Always and Ever.

Unfocus

Since last Sunday’s session with GD, my spiritual teacher, I have found a cue-word to re-connect with awareness and reset the mind. The word is Unfocus. At the session we spoke about how the things we view as pleasure are the very things that create our pain. Then we spoke about awareness and staying in the space of consciousness. But for me the highlight of the session, was a simple lesson from GD.

When we choose to intently focus on something we end up creating pain. When we are unfocused, the pain disappears.

This simple statement affected me profoundly.  Isn’t it true that only when we focus on people’s words or actions, then speculate about their intent, judge their emotions, make assumptions about their motives, that a conflict arises which then generates a pain response in our body and mind. But when you are unfocused none of this matters. Like the times you are truly happy, walking around with a smile and don’t even notice other people’s negativity.

Watching anything from a distance helps keep things unfocused. If someone sounds irritated, Unfocus; instead of choosing to feel they are irritated with you and responding with irritation or anger. When someone provokes you, Unfocus and you will find that you respond with words and not emotions.

We live our lives searching for some deeper meaning in all that we do. Do we even realize how much of our life is about focusing? We have been taught to focus on what we do, what we must do, so that is it done well. And when work, relationships or even hobbies are not focused on and something goes wrong there, we end up feeling pain. But the truth is that we are all here just playing out our dramas. Our minds and emotions add so much fuel to our imaginations that we begin to take ourselves and others too seriously, letting not just sparks fly but fires rage.

Being unfocused can produce better results. It has. I have written more, been more relaxed, fought less, laughed more and been happier in the past 3 days. Being unfocused seems to be be creating a life around me that is at ease with itself and hence more productive.  When I feel the anger well up, judgements take over or tiredness creep, all I need to remind myself is to unfocus. And I see the larger picture- everything is meaningless unless I choose to give it a particular meaning.