The OM Game is fun – only Allies, no Conspirators….!

On the spiritual path the very fact that you are aware and are paying attention to your feelings and thoughts is evidence of progress.

A key tenet of spirituality is patience. So, progress is slow but sure. Look for the signs when you are on the path. Aren’t you now aware that you are angry when you lose it with someone? Aren’t you now conscious when you worry that you must fall back on faith? Aren’t you seeing every misunderstanding as an opportunity to forgive? On this path, Life will test you. If you resolve to conquer your anger, you will find more situations that make you angry come your way. If you are willing to anchor in faith, each moment, each event will question that choice. Instead of giving up, instead of feeling frustrated, take Life head-on. Life loves those who dare it. Instead of reacting with ‘Oh! No! or OMG! or DAMN!’ say, ‘Well, that’s interesting’ or ‘Stay alert, this is a ploy by Life’ or just ‘Aha!’ every time you are challenged. When you refuse to get cowed down by it, Life will celebrate you.

Remember this is a mind game. And you can call it OM – Only Mind! The more you play it, the better you will be at it. At first, it will appear that the mind possesses you. No doubt. But soon you will reclaim it and own it. The OM game will now mean (your) Own Mind!! In this game, you are the Star. And everyone around you is either a Conspirator or an Ally. Your goal is to make them all – the Conspirators – Allies. And you do that by being loving, caring, forgiving and trusting. So, when someone continues to treat you badly, like a door mat, don’t be your typical self and say, ‘How dare you?’ Say to yourself, ‘Well thank you. You are now an Ally who’s going to get me to increase my OM score, my Ally count!’. When you start playing OM, you may have few Allies: maybe just your immediate family. With each passing day, you will rejoice and revel in seeing that Ally count move up. The guy who brushed past you brusquely you in the check-in queue at the airport is an Ally. The boss who denied your vacation request is another Ally. The irate cop on the street who abused you is an Ally too. And so, you go on, making more Allies. Within 21 days of playing OM, you will find your mind now seeing everyone as an Ally. Nobody is a detractor or Conspirator. In fact, your network of Allies will be growing faster than facebook’s user base! It’s fun. Play OM! Make Allies. Keep a log of your increasing Ally score. Watch Life celebrate you!

(PS – An important clarification and disclaimer: The OM Game is just a practical methodology to train the mind in loving, caring, forgiving and trusting; it does not refer to or reflect on or take away from the actual significance of the Sanskrit word ‘om’, pronounced as ‘aum’, which is integral to all spiritual quest.)

You and your mind – BFFs!!!

Your mind can be your best friend. So, don’t try to conquer it. Instead befriend it. Have conversations with it. Reason with it. Laugh with it! This is the only way you can get along with your mind, without it controlling you!

There’s an interesting story I remember reading. A sage was offering his prayers, when a very pretty lady walked past. He got distracted and kept thinking about her all day. The next morning he resolved that he would not get distracted by the beautiful woman. So, he closed his eyes tight. But when the lady walked past him, he was able to smell the jasmine flowers she wore in her hair and so he got distracted again. He was now angry with himself and vowed to close his eyes and nose the next morning. Yet, when the lady went past him, he was able to ‘feel’ her presence because he heard the sound of her anklets pass him by. Angry and completely lost, the sage vowed now to close his ears as well. But despite his intention being right and his making a valiant effort, he could still ‘feel’ her presence the next day, even when his eyes, nose and ears were closed. That’s when the sage concluded that it was ‘all in the mind’.

Indeed. It always was, is and will be so! But however hard you try, you can never control the mind. The mind is like a tennis-ball spewing machine that players use to perfect their strokes. The mind spews thoughts endlessly, like the machine spews tennis balls. On an average, a human mind spews 60,000 thoughts daily. These thoughts range from the bizarre to the fearful to the practical to the anxious to fantasy stuff, all at the same time. Which is, in most unevolved and untrained human beings, the mind is never in the present. It is clinging on to a past memory or dwelling in a future worry! The Buddha describes the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys __ who never sit still and keep jumping from tree to tree, from banana to mango to orange, screeching and screaming all the time! And, says the Buddha, the only way to calm your drunken monkeys down is to have conversations with them. Which is, to talk to your own mind.

When you speak to your own mind, you can be very sure that you will not be interpreted but will be understood. That you can be candid, you can choose to disagree and still be on ‘talking terms’! Wouldn’t you say the same thing of speaking your heart (or mind!) to and sharing with a friend?

Los Angeles-based sociologist and author, BJ Gallagher, shares her secret for making your mind your best friend on her blog:

I’ve found that engaging the monkeys in gentle conversation can sometimes calm them down. I’ll give you an example: Fear seems to be an especially noisy monkey for people like me who own their own business. As the years go by, Fear Monkey shows up less often, but when he does, he’s always very intense. So I take a little time out to talk to him.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” I ask him.

“You’ll go broke,” Fear Monkey replies.

“OK, what will happen if I go broke?” I ask.

“You’ll lose your home,” the monkey answers.

“OK, will anybody die if I lose my home?”

“Hmmm, no, I guess not.”

“Oh, well, it’s just a house. I suppose there are other places to live, right?”

“Uh, yes, I guess so.”

“OK then, can we live with it if we lose the house?”

“Yes, we can live with it,” he concludes.

“And that usually does it. By the end of the conversation, Fear Monkey is still there, but he’s calmed down. And I can get back to work, running my business and living my Life,” says Gallagher.

So, stop obsessing over your mind. There are NO mind-control methods. You can at best make your mind your best friend. Talk to your mind, to your drunken monkeys – to the Fear Monkey, the Anxiety Monkey, the Sorrow Monkey, the Jealous Monkey and any other, as the situation may demand. And calm them down. Once you have achieved that, you and your mind, the two of you, can be Best Friends Forever!