It is your mandatory daily recharge, revive and repair time.
My daughter and I spoke over a WhatsApp call this morning. She shared notes with me from her grad school orientation program. As part of the schedule, she had an hour’s introduction to meditation as a concept and as a practice. I feel it is a fascinating idea to introduce meditation to young people. If you learn the art of stilling your mind, if you can be unmoved when standing in the middle of the whirl of Life, then you are living intelligently.
I remember as a young teenager, when I was studying in 10th grade at Nutan Vidyalaya in Gulbarga, Karnataka, my entire class went through an orientation program on Transcendental Meditation – a form of meditation propagated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918~2008). I can’t remember now whether I liked my first experience of meditation or not, but what I do remember is that my mother admonished me for “embracing wayward practices” and, worse, she accused my school of “thrusting the occult” on students. I realize now how wrong and ill-informed my mother was (and surely still is).
Meditation is an absolute must to still the mind and anchor it. The mind thinks up 60,000 thoughts on an average daily. And the mind thrives only in the dead past or in the unborn, yet-to-arrive, future. Which is why we often are feeling angry, guilty or grieving about the past or we are feeling anxious, stressed out, worried or fearful about the future. Meditation is simply about mindfulness – about bringing your mind’s fullest attention to the now, to the present moment.
However, as I discovered through my own evolution, most forms of meditation insist that you first silence the environment around you. That didn’t work for me. Because I was then (for the past decade) and I am even now living in a state of total chaos. The daily pulls and pressures on me (and on Vaani) are intense. So, I could never find “that place” outside of me that was calm and quiet. Which is why I embraced mouna – or the practice of observing daily silence periods – the moment I found it. Mouna, I discovered, is like spirituality – it places no unreasonable demands on you. You just have to be silent for a full hour every day. Let whatever is happening around you happen – you be silent! And this practice has helped me immensely. I learnt not to respond to stimuli around me. I just remained silent – no matter what – for an hour daily. Over time, I trained my mind to be still and focused only on the present moment. This has taught me how to be fully aware only of what is. It has been a truly liberating, awakening experience.
Any form of meditation is sure to work when practiced with diligence and with full immersion. Please choose what works for you. But please don’t think it is about religion or about a God. It is about the godliness in you. It is your holy communion with the Higher Energy. Just like your mobile phone needs recharging to function, meditation is your way of recharging, reviving and repairing yourself, by connecting with the Universal source!
PS: You may like to look up other posts on this Blog where I talk about mouna and detail its practice and benefits.
Learn to be a witness of your Life and you will anchor in inner peace!
A friend sent me a WhatsApp message to share how much he was benefiting from the practice of ‘mouna’ which I talk about in my Book – ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’. His message made me want to share my learnings from ‘mouna’ here, on this Blog, one more time.
If there’s one practice that you want to develop in Life – learn to be silent for at least an hour daily. This practice is called ‘mouna’. Most forms of meditation require that you silence the environment before you begin to still the mind. But ‘mouna’ does not require the environment to be silent, it requires you, your mind, to be silent. It instils in you the capability to be just a witness of your own Life. Being a witness means not to pass judgment, not to evaluate, not to condemn and not to appreciate. A witness just is.
The human mind is always trafficking thoughts. Of all kinds – relevant and irrelevant, both at all times. 24 x 7. Research reveals that the average mind thinks 60,000 thoughts a day – and all of them are soaked in worry, anxiety, fear, anger, grief, guilt and, rarely, some of them are happy and peaceful thoughts too. ‘mouna’ helps in organizing this traffic and ensures that through your inner awareness, you detach yourself from your situation and simply be a witness of your Life.
Let me share a story that I have read in one of the books that Osho, the Master, wrote.
One morning Gautam Buddha was talking to his disciples. The king, Prasenjita, had also come to listen to him. He was sitting right in front of the Buddha. Prasenjita was not accustomed to sitting on the floor – he was a king, you see – so he was feeling uncomfortable, fidgety, changing sides, somehow trying not to disturb and not to be noticed by the Buddha because he was concerned that he was unable to sit silently, peacefully. He was continuously moving the big toe of his foot, for no reason, just to be busy without business. Some people are like that – they cannot be without business; they will still be busy!
Gautam Buddha stopped talking and asked Prasenjita, “Can you tell me, why are you moving your big toe?”
In fact, Prasenjita himself was not aware of it. Sometimes, you – and I – are doing a thousand and one things that we are not aware of. Unless somebody points them out, you may not take any note of it.
The moment Buddha asked him, the toe stopped moving. Buddha sought to know, “Why have you stopped moving the toe?”
Prasenjita said, “You are putting me in an embarrassing situation. I don’t know why that toe was moving. This much I know: that as you asked the question it stopped. I have not done anything – neither was I moving it, nor have I stopped it.”
Buddha said to his disciples, “Do you see the point? The toe belongs to the man. It moves, but he is not aware of its movement. And the moment he becomes aware – because I asked the question – the very awareness immediately stops the toe. He does not stop it. The very awareness, that ‘It is stupid, why are you moving it?’ – just the awareness is enough to stop it.”
This is really what ‘mouna’, and your being a witness, can help you with. It can help you realize that you too can be ‘aware’ – and so you too can stop doing many things that you go on doing, just like that. Worrying incessantly is one of those things that we all do – many a time without knowing that we are worrying. When you learn to still the mind and organize your thoughts, you learn to weed out worry. When you step outside the orbit of your worldly Life and assume the role of a witness, you will see the futility in squandering your precious lifetime thinking debilitating thoughts. When the witness in you becomes active, the mind becomes slowly powerless. Through your continuous practice of ‘mouna’, you eventually learn to fully still your mind, making it totally inactive. It is in that 100 % witness state that you discover the secret to living happily and being at peace with what is!
Now, practicing ‘mouna’ takes up an investment of one hour daily. Won’t you rather invest one hour to reclaim the remaining 23, which you would otherwise fritter away? Doesn’t that sound like an impressive, irresistible, unputdownable ROI on your time?
PS: If you liked this blogpost, please share it to help spread the learning it carries!
To be unfrustrated when you don’t get the results you want is a skill that you can teach yourself.
A gentleman asked me the other day: “It must be so frustrating AVIS to endure a bankruptcy for such a long time. Why do talented and ethical people like you have to go through a tough Life?” I smiled back at him. My reply: “Talent and integrity don’t ensure a crisis-free Life. The nature of Life is such that it is one continuous adventure. You just have to deal with whatever comes your way.”
I feel people unnecessarily complicate Life by imagining that they should be free from problems, challenges or crises. To be sure, Life never promised anyone a hassle-free ride. In fact, Life makes no promises. We humans bring our expectations to the party and then we invite suffering into our Life when those expectations are not met. When Life makes no promises, and when you expect something out of Life, and that expectation is not fulfilled, and you suffer, who is to blame? Of course, you have only yourself to blame. So, simply, drop all expectations and Life will be a lot easier to deal with.
In “Gandhi The Man”, Eknath Easwaran (1910~1999), writes about how Mahatma Gandhi drew great inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita to keep the focus only on his efforts and to learn to be detached from the outcomes. The Gita says: ‘Do your allotted work, but renounce its fruit – be detached and work – have no desire for reward and work’. And Gandhi internalized this learning thus: “This is the unmistakable teaching of the Gita. He who gives up action falls. He who gives up only the reward rises. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it. He, who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result, and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfillment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruits of his action.”
I meditated, during my daily mouna (silence periods) sessions, on this learning for weeks on end some years ago. And over time I cultivated the ability to stay detached from the outcomes of my efforts. Vaani helped me through this process. This is how both of us have been able to deal with our Life with great equanimity.
Internalizing this learning has helped us immensely to remain unfrustrated when we don’t get what we want despite our very sincere efforts and all our integrity. When you are unfrustrated then you see any challenge only as an opportunity to learn patience and to retry. Which is why, when people often ask me, when do I think we will get out of our bankruptcy, I always reply, “I know we will be out of this. I just can’t say when.”
To be unfrustrated is a skill that can be learnt with practice. It requires training your mind to engage with only the present moment, with only the efforts. Simply, when there is integrity of Purpose, when there is relentless, unsparing effort, when you trust the process of Life, then you can never be frustrated with the outcomes!
PS: If you liked this blogpost, please share it to help spread the learning it carries!
Scarcity thinking, focusing on what isn’t, invites suffering that holds you hostage; abundance thinking sets you free!
At a conversation organized by the Indian Prostrate Cancer Foundation, Raja Krishnamoorthy, the moderator, asked us to reflect on the value of abundance thinking. He said a good state to be in, in Life, is where you can wake up and say “Kurai Onrum Illai” – no grievances or complaints whatsoever! I have a friend, who’s in his late 70s now, who uses this line as a response to the “How are you?” greeting! How beautiful, I thought,…if you can truly respond every time you are asked “How are you?”…saying you have no issues, no complaints with Life…“Kurai Onrum Illai”!
Honestly speaking, I could never get to this state until I learnt to rein in my mind. It wasn’t until I learned to practice daily silence periods – mouna – that I could see the abundance in my Life.
To be sure, the human mind thinks 60,000 thoughts daily. And, if the mind is untrained, it is pulling you in different directions – often illogically, randomly. From grief to anger to guilt to fear to insecurity to worry to anxiety the mind seesaws between the past and the future. By nature, the mind thrives only in the past or the future. In the present, as Osho, the Master, points out, there is no mind. There’s just you, the real you, immersed, in the now, in whatever is, in whatever is happening! So, the secret to celebrate Life, to soak in the abundance that you have, is this: you must bring your mind to attend only to the present moment. Like the physical body resists training in a gym, the mind will resist your attempts to train it. But the beauty is that just as you can train your body, you can train your mind too. So, over time, I taught myself the art of mouna, remaining silent (irrespective of the environment or circumstance I am placed in) for an hour daily. I can now drop anchor wherever I am – in a busy traffic signal, at an airport, in a courtroom or a boring business meeting and even when every shred of material security is absent. And, miraculously, when I am anchored, I see only abundance in and around me.
So, I can totally relate to Raja’s call to reflect there and to my senior friend’s greeting: “Kurai Onrum Illai”!
Actually, this approach to Life is neither philosophical nor is it metaphorical. It is a very real, very sensible way to look at your Life. Life operates on this principle of compassion towards all that it creates. So, the truth is, all of us, at any time, have everything that we need. It is only our desire that our Life should be different from what it is that makes us suffer. So, simply, we cause our own suffering. Now, my Life, for instance, is ridden with debt, and has been, for almost a decade now, despite our best efforts, often about struggling to meet and cover living expenses. There’s denial of work, rejection, public judgment (for our inability to repay our debt) and there’s so much pain caused by the legal and social course that a bankruptcy takes you through. So, if I look at what isn’t, if I allow myself to be steeped in scarcity thinking, I will end up being a nervous wreck – depressed and worthless. So will Vaani. Which is why, we decided to look at each other, our companionship, and our two children – who have grown up to be fine, well-anchored, young adults despite this time of intense strife for our family – and celebrate this blessing that we have – of each other’s presence! We reasoned that even if we have no money, we have the choice to be happy for just being alive and together. We also have the blessing of so many, many, many friends and some family members who love us unconditionally and continue to stand by us and support us – no matter what we are going through and however long it is taking! So, we see the need to be eternally grateful to Life. Just counting our blessings makes us deliriously happy! And we go about spreading awareness of this opportunity called happiness, that’s freely available 24×7, around us. We wake up every morning saying a big thank you to Life, and flow with Life as it flows that day. There’s no ‘like’ button or ‘dislike’ button in our Life anymore. There’s just a ‘be’ button. So, we just are.
Therefore, we know, “Kurai Onrum Illai” is a great way to greet Life and to live it fully – despite your circumstances!
PS: Prostrate Cancer is curable and a simple blood test to review your PSA levels is all that you need to do for early action!
|Swami Sathya Sai Baba|