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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Wasting my day

The first thing that someone usually asks when they meet you is, how are you? This is usually followed by – what are you doing lately ? Increasingly, I find that this is a difficult question to respond to. Questions such as why are you so busy and what do you do for a living also fall under this category. Because the truth is by the standards of the world I have been doing nothing. Why? Because almost all my days (with the exception of a few) fall under the non-remunerative slot. And so in today’s times when we have spent so much time, money, and sometimes effort, on gaining socially valuable education degrees, the very act of not earning or not working seems like a bad choice for many. So in response I am forced to either say that I am a writer (because I still do write) or that I am a housewife. But the former immediately makes people view me as someone special and the latter gets me looks of such pity or disgust that I have refrained from using it lately. The thing I have understood is that – if you are not doing something that earns you money people quickly dismiss you and assume you are wasting your day.

Wasting your day… How many of us live our life filled with the need to make every moment worthwhile; make every moment momentous, and every second move towards a purpose or a goal. Our culture promotes the notion of
work = worth. And most of us have absorbed this as a truth. I know friends who are scared at the idea of leaving work because 1. they believe money is needed and 2. They have studied so much that they believe they need to work.

But lately after walking on the path, I have changed quite a few notions related to this. I have chosen to no longer work for a living. I have chosen to have a life instead, and do work whenever it pleases me. It dawned on me, last week, that it had been 4 years since I quit active journalism and I have absolutely no regrets. The year before I quit was the best year of my career and yet it brought me the greatest amount of stress and emptiness than ever. Why? Because I had not wasted my time. I was too busy trying to capture it and frame it with my accolades of success.

And so I decided to change my life and do the very things that bring me peace instead. Music, dance, reading, lying down staring at the sky- the things the people usually associate with wasting time, I realized are the very things that bring you joy. As human beings deep down we all pursue only one thing- happiness, and work rarely equals to happiness for most. And so off-late all I do is waste my time doing what feeds my soul and I find that the universe plans my life is such a way that my stomach is fed too.

I waste my time in photography, gardening, reading, learning new energy healing techniques, practicing what I learn, playing with my son, creating art, cooking and keeping home. And I find, I am leading a fuller, more meaningful life than many, many people I know. After all we have such less time on earth and what better thing can I do with it than make it flow in a way that adds joy to my life.

This is not to say that I advocate people make the choices I have or quit their jobs. But I do hope that someday people will be able to stop, breathe a little deeper and let go of their need to dam, race against, or defeat time. What we believe is wasting our time may in the end just save our lives instead. So whenever someone asks me what I do, I have decided to just smile and say nothing. Another seeker on the path recently posted this on his blog, “when someone asks me what I do, I say – Nothing. I stay at ‘om’.” And that is exactly what I do off-late 🙂

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.

Rebirth

Rebirth

I sit in this chair
Surrounded by a few plants
Breathing in the discussions of the motley birds
watching the overgrown bamboo bend under its own weight

I have been cowed down by my own inaction
with simple inabilities to persevere
looking back at all I didn’t do
I feel no remorse no guilt

I shed my own skin
and then scrape off some more layers
to watch this redness emerge
a hypersensitivity that feels old though new

I bow to the divine inside me and around
cowed down by no words or wisdom
to live with this constant simplicity
to live conscious of choice

I emerge unscathed and stronger
from a vortex of constant doubt
fed by stories from birth till now
of how things are to be and not

This rebirth is from the womb of a teacher
from the mind of a student ardent to learn
irrepressible and yet willing to surrender it all
I type simply as a conscious life form.

And

Forgiving yourself

Most of us live in the past. Our wrong choices are reminders of our incompetence and we would rather stay in the comfort of failure than to step beyond it and risk failure again. And so guilt becomes our friend. It is easier to choose guilt than change. Why? Because it is easier to live in the shadow of past regrets, memories and experiences, than to step into the sunlight, face the harsh light of bad choices and move onto newer experiences.

But in the past few months, I have systematically chosen to release myself of guilt that I had been carrying since years. When I look back I see that I chose unwisely, trusted too easily and hurt very readily. I always assumed in my ability to awaken the inherent good in people and ended up hurting. But those experiences remain just that.

I have grown to realize that by choosing to stay stuck with those experiences, I still gave those memories immense power over me. I still gave people who hurt me immense power over me by continuing to remember the emotions, the memories still evoked in my mind and body. Guilt is a great way to stay stuck and I knew it was time to shake myself free of it and move on. Life was too full of possibilities to stay stuck.

And so, slowly and steadily I have been clearing myself of all the past garbage I still carry inside. First by forgiving others ( dear me its tough!) and then by forgiving myself ( even more tougher) for making those choices. By doing this not only do I feel much much much lighter inside but I am also opening myself up to newer and better experiences.

There is little joy to be found in the familiarity of pain while the fear of newness can usher in great happiness. I chose to forgive myself and I hope you do the same too.