Do you really need to carry that excess baggage?

All of us fellow voyagers in Life are traveling with far too much excess baggage than what we really need.
There are three forms of excess baggage we saddle our lives with:
1.     Emotional Baggage: Memories pertaining to past hurts, insults, events, experiences. Some of these are heart-wrenching and keep our spirit nailed causing deep anguish, pain and untold suffering.
2.     Physical Baggage: More than 50 % of the stuff that fills our homes__furniture to clothes to documents to kitchenware to shoes to display-ware__are the ones we have not used in months and, most often, in years. So, our homes are overloaded with ‘waste’ which can be useful for others when given away.
3.     Baggage that never was and that never may well be: This is the baggage of worry and anxiety. Of things and events that you fear will happen to you and because of which you are unable to live free and in the moment!
All three forms of excess baggage must be set down to travel in peace. The second form, the physical baggage, may still be reconcilable. As in, if you have a large living space, you can afford to accumulate, save or hoard the stuff that you don’t always use. Even so, Vaani and I follow a simple principle: we don’t hold on to anything – anything – that we have not used for over 6 months, except our passports! But the baggage falling in categories 1 and 3 are just not worth carrying. In a way, Life is pretty much like an airline company. You sure do end up paying a heavy price for traveling with heavy, excess baggage! In a Life context, that price is the inability to live in and experience the magic of the present moment, of the now!
All that you need to live is what you have in the now. Ask yourself what past memories are causing an inexplicable heaviness in you? Ask yourself what worries take your mind away from attending to the now? Burn your heaviness away by giving the present all your attention. Make a call, give a hug, simply forgive__do whatever that will bring you into the present. Stop worrying about what will or may happen in the future. Life is here and never in the future, just as it is not in the past! Most important, learn, and keep relearning, to offload all your baggage and travel light. You will then not only travel smart, but travel far too!

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Don’t suffer! Either speak up and/or forgive and move on…

We sometimes don’t realize we have this phenomenal ability to forgive and move on. So we end up suffering people and situations – often endlessly!  
Two days ago, I met a young lady who was very disturbed emotionally. Her’s is an arranged marriage. Her husband of five years, she says, had let her down over an issue raised by his mother – her mother-in-law. He had apparently abused her (his wife) and held her accountable for “insulting” his mother. This incident is over two years old and even as this young lady has been struggling with this emotional hurt, her husband has been diagnosed with cancer. Interestingly, she’s been by his side, dutifully nursing him and helping him cope with all the pain and depression. She told me while she was doing whatever she could to help her husband, she was still unable to get over her hurt over the past and move on. “I simply am unable to forgive him for what he did to me. Agreed, my mother-in-law made a mountain out a molehill, but I can’t understand why my husband vented his fury at me. I felt trampled upon and felt like dirt. Now, when I sit by his side all night helping him deal with his pain and nightmares, I am also suffering within. I feel so much anger for him. Instead of letting it all out, I am having to control it and look after him. This makes me feel worse,” the lady told me, breaking down a few times as she shared her predicament.
I told her that she was making matters worse for her by carrying so much hurt and anger within her. She either has to express her anger – which is to tell her husband how she feels about being treated the way she was or she has to forgive him and move on. It will be ideal if she can do both. Her suffering, I told her, was coming from repressing her feelings. Since her husband is in a fragile state himself, the only way forward for her – and him – at the moment, is for her to be by his side. And since this is not the time to rake up a past hurt and discuss it, she must forgive him and pour her heart into caring for him. (Well, she has the option to leave him at this time. But she, rightly so, does not want to exercise this option.)

Her story may seem unique. But it is not. Many of us suffer from not being able to speak our minds when we must. And many of us also suffer from our inability to forgive and move on. It may not always be possible for us to forget whatever has happened in Life, but we can surely forgive others for what they have done to us. Here’s the nub: when someone does something to you that you do not appreciate, simply tell them so on their face. If you can’t speak up – send that person a text, an email or a WhatsApp message or a facebook messenger note. Then forgive that person and move on. If you have failed to speak your mind and communicate your feelings because you see no point in even discussing the issue with this person, at least forgive this person for his or her transgression and move on. The more you cling on to a hurt, an insult, an abuse, a betrayal, the more you will suffer. Interestingly, unless you “allow” someone to hurt you emotionally, you will never suffer. If you treat people with the view that everyone is entitled to their opinions and behaviors, you will never be emotionally disturbed no matter what people do to you. However, since not all of us can claim to be so evolved and mature, the best way is to speak up or move on or, in a best case scenario, do both. Never suffer anyone or anything grieving that you “wish” you were treated better. It is this wishing, your wishing, that is causing your suffering. And never the person or the event that has upset you.

Travel light – travel far and in comfort

The concept of good health immediately points to our physical condition. But many of us are carrying too much weight in our minds – excess emotional baggage, born out of past experiences and anxieties about the unborn future. Unless we offload them, we can’t make much progress in Life!
The human mind is always engaged in thoughts. It’s like a freeway. Thousands of thoughts keep coming on that freeway. And most of these thoughts pertain to anger, hatred, fear, insecurity, jealousy, grief, guilt, sorrow and very few deal with inner peace and joy. Resultantly, each day, we are carrying the excess emotional baggage of several debilitating negative thoughts. Just like a flight agent will charge you for excess baggage, you have to pay a price for your emotional baggage too in Life. And that price is through a challenged physical and/or mental condition – diabetes, hypertension, stress, depression, insomnia and what not!
The way to offload your excess baggage is to do two things: 1. When you wake up every morning focus your attention on the day ahead for a few minutes and remind yourself that you will not bring any of the past or the future into your day. 2. Before you go to bed focus your attention on a peaceful night’s sleep and remind yourself that you will not bring any of your past or the future into your night. This could include reminding yourself about anything that’s going on in your Life – from a relationship issue to a fear of someone or something that’s gnawing at you to anger over a business deal or an insult someone has heaped on you to anxiety over losing a job…whatever. Whether you pray daily or not (depending on your religious preferences), do this twice daily, religiously. Watch yourself slowly, over just a few days, anchoring in inner peace.
This practice is adapted from an ancient Zen story.
Two monks, one of them in his 60s and the other in his 20s, were once travelling together along a mountain road. A heavy rain was falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross a small stream that was overflowing. The current was ferocious. And obviously the pretty young thing was scared she would be washed away should she step into the water.  

“Come on, girl,” said the younger monk. Lifting her on his back, he carried her across the stream and set her down on the other bank.

 

The older monk was aghast at what had happened. Monks were not to touch women under any circumstances. He angrily crossed the stream and grunted several times to see if the younger chap would notice his discomfort. He did not speak again until late that night when they reached the monastery. He no longer could control himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he said. “It is forbidden by our monastery’s law. Why did you do that?”


“Sir,” said the young monk, “I left the girl there, by the riverside. Are you still carrying her in you?”

This lifetime is too short to be weighed down by emotional baggage. So, as much as you would focus on your physical health, focus also on losing, or offloading, the weight you carry around in your mind. When you travel light, you travel far, and travel comfortably!