Be aware of how you are feeling. It surely helps you in more ways than you can even imagine.
Many people who embrace spirituality and make progress towards anchoring in their inner core of joy often encounter real-world, real-Life situations when they are provoked by and succumb to external stimuli. They slip and fall on the path and feel even more guilty and angry that they allowed themselves to be provoked. The question is how can you stay on the path without slipping?
The way to do it is to stay in touch with your feelings all the time. When you understand Life and start living, one of the first and finest changes you will notice is that you will feel peaceful within you. With acceptance comes peace. And with peace comes unadulterated, pure joy!
Yet, even as you are experiencing this new freedom, of being detached from the travails of everyday living, things will continue to be ‘normal’ in the external world. Which is, people and situations will irritate you, anger you, insult you, provoke you and you may break away from your anchored position, of being safe on ‘your’ shore, and may enjoin, once again, the strife, the chaos, the turmoil.
When this happens, know that your response is nothing to grieve over. It is perfectly human and normal to react. It’s what you do after you react that you need to watch over.
Let’s say, you have been having a torrid time in Life. Someone you know has been very, very sick. And besides providing full-time logistical and emotional support for this person, you also have a family to look after and an employment to keep. Life at work has become hell after a new boss has come in. Your days and weeks are always harried. That you are stressed-out, is an understatement. To find relief, you start a yoga or a meditation practice or a simple hour’s walk, all by yourself, daily. Over weeks you begin to love the peace and joy you experience. You find that this new practice has helped you prepare for the remaining 23 hours in the day. You fall in love with Life all over again. Then suddenly, the patient you are tending to goes into a critical stage requiring more intensive care. And around the same time your tyrannical boss gets after you with a vengeance. You explode one day at work and quit in a huff! As you soak in your new reality of being left without a job, it is not so much the act of quitting but the manner in which you quit, choosing to react, to explode, that disturbs you.
Now, this is the crucial point of introspection. How are you feeling should be your question? And not why did I explode? Because, remember, however long you have been anchored, however long you have been on the spiritual path of internal awareness, you will be provoked by external stimuli. It is only with continuous awareness and incessant practice that you can learn not to respond to such stimuli. Now, if you don’t become quickly aware of how you are feeling__actually you could be feeling pretty miserable after that explosion__you may slip further, either into depression or into being consumed by your own rage. “Oh God, what have I done?” and “Enough is enough. I can’t tolerate that boor anymore. How dare he?” are both responses that can ruin you. Instead, immediately wanting to know how you are your feeling can help you immensely. “Hey, looks like I am angry” or “Well, I needed to vent out somewhere, someplace. So, I did. Now let me get back to protecting my inner peace” are more ‘aware’ responses to your situation.
May be not the same context, but the same reactions in our own individual Life situations, keep happening to us, to those around us, all the time. The context is different, the characters are different, but the emotions are the same. Resultantly, feelings will be the same. Knowing those feelings and being aware is the only way to stay on the path. Intelligent living is therefore about a series of endless conversations with yourself. It is through this benign chatter that you stay aware and connected. All practices that champion intelligent living are useless until you understand, as the Bible says, how to “be in this world but not of it” and, as the Gita says, how to “live in this world and yet be above it”. That understanding of a seemingly complex principle, which in reality is so simple, so practical and so easy to follow, can only be got through continuously examining your feelings. To use a cricketing analogy, if you want to carry your bat through and play a memorable innings, no matter how menacing and unplayable the bowling may be, you must have focus, patience and stay anchored!