Sand Castles and Sand Dunes

A rush of waves come over the sand. Children clap their hands with glee and run with playful mirth allowing the waves to chase them. Waves gushes in into the pure warmth of these children’s love, even destroying their lovely imaginations and creations with unabashed joy. And then the little ones run behind the waves, as though they chase them away. And some stand right in the midst of it, feeling the thrill of the ground beneath, being swept away from under their feet. And the waves join in their laughter, loves them , gushes over them in free abandon, and leaves the shore in its natural grace of movement.  And when it moves, it leaves behind fascinating patterns of sand dunes, which keeps changing with every gush of a new wave.


Creations of man , whether that is technological innovations, or they are great novelties of social service and science, or inspirational art…oh just about any myriad forms: all these are nothing but these sand castles. Just with the same glee that these manifold sand castles are created, they inevitably get destroyed by yet another new upcoming wave of change…


Technology ebbs and wanes, when it rises, it rises from a source of pure love and joy, mingles with the consciousness of playing men on the shores, and it can disappear just as these sand castles…and so does science, social constructs, societies, systems, art and just about anything that is created by man.


Tomorrow, maybe there is no technology, there is no police, there is no judicial system, maybe there is no houses even..who knows? Or maybe there is more sophisticated technology, sophisticated sciences or maybe there is sophistication of the mind which can start to create things just as it thinks about it.  It simply doesn’t matter what is the new wave of change that is going to sweep mankind into its next phase of upward or downward movement.


But one thing is for sure, there is no end to love and joy, there is no end to creativity. Creativity is infinite just as life and the world is infinite.


As these creations emerging from the ever vibrant imagination of man arise and flow, it leaves behind its sand dunes when the waves pass off.


In this play of nature, we experience all the waves with marvel, wonder and awe. When the waves come and dash down our sand castles, some of us cry with grief, some of us clap with glee.  Some of us cry when the  waves move off, some of us play with it. Some of us just stand back and watch everything with awe and wonder, some of us get numbed with fear and depression.   But nobody can stop another new gigantic wave from gushing into the shore.


This is life. When we know the nature of our creations, its inevitable transiency and as we get to accept this with grace, then there is more  joy and love, calm and serenity that it evokes.  Even in our personal lives, even in our collective global events, this is all that happens…. sand castles, waves and sand dunes in unstoppable cycles.


If we forget this picture, then we tend to think that every sand castle we create is stable and claim its ownership like fools. And we resist every new wave of change instead of expecting it. If we forget this picture, seeing the sand dunes we fall in despair, not remembering that another new wave of change is going to usher in, whether we like it or not. Ignorance and forgetfulness of this basic nature of change, makes us tend to frantically resist the waves, to ignorantly build stability and inflexibility in our sand castles,and it makes us cry with despair, instead of playing with it and allow it to come and pass.


Life is as awesome and as marvellous and as deep as the ocean and the inevitable waves…..of change. Flow with it. Its a deep marvel to be a part of this flow…each one of us here, without exception!



– Enjoy

Shalini
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Sleight of judgmentalism, seeing through it!

When light comes in touch with darkness, either of three things can happen:

1. Light mingles with the dark and becomes dark. Dark becomes darker.

2. Dark transforms to brightness

3. The two remain as it is without mingling.

When we see somebody lying, cheating, being rude and so on, we see and discern unwholesomeness in others. We  see darkness and to see that we are in a place of light. Unfortunately, when we do see that, we react to it habitually with aversion, anger,self-righteousness and disgust. We tend to identify them with their behavior and label them. This is judgmentalism. There is nothing wrong with discerning, but judgmentalism spews its own web of danger to ourselves and others.

When we judge darkness in others, our own vibrations become dark albeit in a different way.  Aversion, anger, disgust and hatred towards people we judge, is no more or no less dark than the rudeness, cheating or whatever else we perceive in them. When we shout at them or speak with anger to them, we have mingled into their darkness. This is the sleight of judgement that we need to see through.  Our light becomes dark. And when we judge, generally the people we judge, tend to become more aggressive in their judged behavior.  Their dark becomes darker.

When we are non-judgemental, however, it does not really mean that we no longer perceive or discern unwholesomeness or darkness in others and chances are, what we discern might be true too. We still discern the same rudeness, same cheating. However, we can respond to it in two ways, when we learn to be non-judgemental.

1. Keep distance from them and avoid them, by discerning the danger of being near to darkness. We dont nurse anger/aversion and knowing the danger of reacting, we just keep quiet or distract ourselves from them without reacting to them or responding to them. Light and dark here do not influence each other.

2.  Knowing well of the dangers of intermingling with the dark, we keep distance from their behavior by not reacting to it with anger or aversion or disgust. Knowing well that we all are a similar mix of light and darkness, we refuse to judge or identify or categorize them as low or high for their behavior and generate compassion to our loved ones. We go a step further and understand the suffering behind the ignorance that causes such behavior. We  actively generate loving kindness towards them, towards their suffering.From this center of non-anger, understanding, loving kindness and compassion, we respond to them actively.

Chances are that our responses, which could include being quiet but kind to them, while being firm in not approving their behaviour, will influence the people in some way or the other. They would have noticed it, whether they acknowledge it or not..and sometime or the other your behaviour might trigger a change in them, might trigger respect for you. Light transforms the darkness!

With colleagues and distant friends non-judgemental distance works. With loved ones, we inevitably have to learn to bring ourselves into a position of non-judgemental kindness. With more learning, we can learn to be non-judgemental and compassionate to everyone around us. But when we discern something unwholesome in others, the least we can do is to learn not to react with darkness and not to let our own light be darkened through our judgements of their behavior, for our own good.

Check out this story of exercising non-judgement:

https://emotionallyintelligentleader.wordpress.com/2012/07/22/being-non-judgemental-just-what-does-it-mean/

Enjoy,

Shalini

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Feeling misunderstood, disapproved ?

Being at peace with disapproval and misunderstanding, opposition and contradiction, is to be able to honour a different and perhaps starkly opposed perspective as perfectly natural, equally valid and meant to come in that person for nature’s perfect cause. Giving our understanding to those who misunderstand us is a learning that is precious. The moment we say, oh he/she misunderstood me but  see that misunderstanding as beauty in the other person,that moment we have released and let the natural flow of this universe dance in its full glory.

Letting go of the aversion to the person who misunderstood us, to feel total acceptance and understanding for the other person’s perspective is an art and a learning that will hold us in good stead in terms of our own peace quotient.  To allow, to be present to  and to receive that moment of feeling misunderstood in full presence and trust is to allow the vibration of love within our being to reverberate around for higher purposes. It is to bring balance and a calm centeredness that comes with deep acceptance of other’s being and by that very act, we will see the response to us changing.

Often, our own acceptance rather than our resistance to their misunderstanding  have more chances of triggering the other person’s acceptance.  Understanding their misunderstanding might well trigger the other person’s willingness to see our perspective too. This is the law of resonance. Understanding within us resonates with and evokes understanding in others, resistance in us to the other person’s opposition resonates and evokes/strengthens their  misunderstanding , acceptance resonates acceptance, love resonates love in the other person.

Being at peace with others, is to be at peace with the understanding that each person is exactly where he/she is supposed to be. Once that place in other people is seen as not perfect, or requiring improvement or change, or being lowly or high, at that instant, we create a wave of unnatural resistance in us, to what we perceive in  others. We see un-peace not just in ourselves, but those waves of unacceptance and resistance within us, seeps into the universe to reach places and people that we cant imagine, to create disturbance in the beauty of the natural flow around. Its what the nature has wanted them to be at this moment of time and it is perfect.

Everything at this moment is perfect, not requiring change from others or ourselves, only changing naturally without interference. Everybody and everything is changing every moment constantly and naturally. All constrictions of energy within and outside is caused by blocking the natural flow of change.

The moment we get the urge to change people, that moment we resist something natural in them and by that resistance we tune to and even cause the resistance of the people we ‘want’ to change. The moment we accept and honour the naturalness and perfection of what others are at this moment, we have honoured their divinity in them. That moment is when we DONT want to change people from the depth of our hearts. That moment is when see deeply and feel deeply the divinity of the other person and honour it.

The most effective change proponents or leaders as they seem to be called, are people  who seem like urging others to change and ‘transform’ but in actuality they are not urging everybody to change or are they finding something wrong with the way things are.The most effective proponents of such change or transformation workshops are those who are ‘being the change’ and just want to communicate their own changing to others who are naturally ready to change the same way. Its the law of resonance, where a certain change in frequency of our beings, is attracting those who are vibrating at the same frequency or are ready for that.

Those who dont agree with these change leaders, are neither low or high, dark or bad, better or worse. They are also transforming in their own natural way at their own natural frequency perfect for them at this moment. And because there is opposition or disapproval, it does not mean either the change leader or the opposers are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Nature flows and dances in different ways and it is perfect for those change leaders, perfect for those who dont approve of them. Transformation is constant, whether we are aware of it or not. Peace!

Check out more thoughts on ‘feeling misunderstood, understanding misunderstanding’ here:

Enjoy,
Shalini
Posted in Achieving Serenity, Affected by What People Say?, Art of Letting Go, Emotional Intelligence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A mind full of feelings vs mind-full-ness of feelings

Being a Mind Full of Feelings vs Being Mindful of Feelings.

We always think feelings happen in us because of the situation or people around us. But just wondered, could the situation be happening because there are feelings in us which are not treated well and is asking to be treated in the ‘right’ way?

Test it for yourself. If something makes you angry, instead of focussing on that something, focus on the anger, give attention to it and let it go and do you see pain hidden somewhere below it, do you see fear, do you see rejection , do you see unlove and abandonment below the layer of anger, give it attention , feel it fully without resisting or denying it…

Test it… Situations happen because of feelings and it is not that feelings happen because of situations. Situations will change as you heal your feelings. Thoughts will change as you change the way you treat and heal your feelings. Try this at least a few times before you go about habitually changing your situation or the person, just to change your feelings.

Our thoughts happen because of the feelings most of the time. But it can happen otherwise too, when the feelings are all let gone, a calm-centeredness emerges, out of which it becomes easier for us to think for your greatest benefit and the greatest benefit of others, for the least harm to yourself and others. Its in that center that decisions, actions needs to be taken. But many times, decisions , actions and our thoughts emerge out of feelings that we want to push or pull.

‘Healing’ is simply about embracing the feeling by feeling it fully in your mind and body sensations and letting it go. Some feelings, we push it, some we choke it because it so dear to us that we dont want to let it go. Don’t push it, don’t pull it, don’t choke it…feel it fully and let it be fully  and let be gone fully….that’s healing and that’s true mind-full-ness of feelings.

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Hub of the Wheel

“A man is hit in the chest by an arrow and collapses. Gravely wounded, he is on the brink of death, so a doctor is summoned to remove the arrowhead. But the man will not let him do this. First, he wants to know from what kind of wood the arrow shaft is made: then he wants to find out what sort of poison had been put on its tip; and what kind of feathers were attached to its end; were they goose feathers or hawk feathers? He wants to know what the arrowhead is made of, and who shot the arrow at him, and from what distance, and why? Naturally, by the time he finds all that out he dies. The story [from the Culamalunkya Sutta—Ed.] represents our tendency to ask questions about all sorts of important details instead of practicing those things that will lead us out of dukkha.” – Ayya Khema, Who am I.

Today we tend to get caught up in philosophies, concepts, beliefs and ideas even in our most honest attempts to transform our selves. What does it mean to reach a place of wisdom, that is free from ideas and concepts? The wise say that what we call and feel in the deepest parts of our conscious and unconscious, as ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘mine’ is only a false conception, which we simply have internalized so deeply that it is very hard for us to believe there is a reality that we can dip even now, without the hold of that concept. It is hard for us to believe that there can be that feeling of love without the concept of an ego or a self, whether that is individual or universal.

In the meditation that I learn ( Vipassana – the insight of seeing things as they are by internalizing a habit of seeing things in its impermanency at the roots of our consciousness ), this is what we do. We try to dip into the hub of the wheel and keep training to do that more sustainably. The constantly turning wheel  of our mind and of our life, represents our concepts, ideas and perceptions of the world. The Hub represents the absolute reality free from even a trace of falsity or concepts.

Even if we are deep into the conceptual world, so to say, we are still able to access a place closer to the hub. Vipassana is one of the methods of training to move closer and closer to the hub. We often find that when we move even a little bit towards the hub for sometime, many things get cleansed up and things begin to show its true light without much of an intellectual effort on our part.

Sharing some excerpts in an article related to this theme:

“Real transformation arises from nonverbal attention. When we are fully present and able to pay attention in a sustained way to our experience we can begin to see directly, uncolored by our ideas and concepts. Placing our trust more in loving attention and less in analyzing the story can allow space for a new way of holding the question. But this trust does not come easily and takes practice. Sometimes we worry a question to death. We give it too much attention and ignore other aspects of life. When this happens it is often a sign that we are too attached to finding an answer.

When we are in touch with actual experience, the way it is without any interpretation, our investigation becomes quite direct and we begin to see underlying truths. We can begin to see the changing nature of all experiences, whether painful or pleasant. This understanding of the changing nature of all experience leads to a fearlessness and willingness to face difficulties more openheartedly. We are sometimes afraid to feel certain painful emotions because we don’t think they will change. But through paying attention when we are in pain, instead of trying to avoid the pain, quite naturally the truth of change is revealed. Instead of clinging to changing pleasant experiences, we open to them fully, yet we continue to pay attention and we see them change and we let go. This investigation and seeing of change leads to the freedom of equanimity.”

Check out the whole article at:

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/questioning-the-question

Enjoy,

Shalini

Posted in Achieving Serenity, Art of Letting Go, Emotional Intelligence, Transforming Negativity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Healing Anger

Anger is a basic denial of acknowledging some other feeling which we dont want to feel. Its a denial of wanting to feel pain, helplessness,powerlessness and a fear of loss of control and safety. We try to evade seeing and acknowledging a very painful feeling within. And in that evasion arises fear and then arises anger.   On the surface anger feels much easier to don, not realising its the hardest to remove and heal.  

Anger is a denial that is upturned into something that replaces the inner feeling of powerlessness and helplessness to that of focussed power and control. We want to hurl onto others, the pain that we don’t want to see in ourselves. Generally, it is inflicted on the person who triggered us the violation of what we perceived as a space that is safe, validated and in control within us.

Learning to identify, acknowledging and simply feeling fully, the pain of  helplessness, powerlessness , disapproval and loneliness beneath the layer of anger,  is a path to heal a lot of anger within. And thereafter it might turn into something more beneficial and wholesome like assertiveness, forgiveness, loving kindness and more than anything, to compassion.

Compassion can arise easily when we know how to feel all of a range of feelings right within us, without denial. It is ‘com’-passion…a feeling of co-suffering, can only arise when we are familiar with how other’s pain or joy might feel within us. Without that, a compassion is not quite so authentic. 
 
To feel compassionate towards another, it seems essential to know, what makes one helplessly angry or greedy or manipulative or self-centered or cruel or foolish or just about anything else; to know and feel the helplessness and pain beneath those dark unwholesomeness. When compassion is authentic, there is no better healing that can take place in the person who is feeling compassionate as well as the person who receives that love. When compassion is not authentic, it can be so clearly felt by the other person as artificial, self-righteous or condescending and it doesn’t quite touch them or us either.
 
Check something similar down here, and more picturesque:
Shalini
Posted in Transforming Negativity | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Human Being or Human Doing

Are you doing busy-ness everyday and every moment? And when we are not doing our busy-ness then how do we feel? They are the crucial moments of our day telling us something deeper about us. Pay attention to it. When all do we think we or others are ‘wasting time’?  Being aware of that and reflecting on it might give us a crucial shift. Think over. This article gives us some interesting reflections. 

How not to Waste Time at: http://www.tricycle.com/cushion/how-not-waste-time

Enjoy, Be happy!

Shalini

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Why the fixation on Success

I was wondering about the constant fixation on SUCCESS and on the so called successful people in the past and current human potential movement. Many seem to be obsessively pre-occupied about ‘going Big’ on goals of getting the perfect partner or that big car or that big success in an entrepreneurial venture.  While my thoughts reflected on what’s really true or false about the many prescribed and luring promises of happiness from the success pandits, I came across this quote in one of my email subscriptions . I was moved to wonder how much this seemingly contrasting quote could be true too.


Dharma Quote of the Week
THE ONLY THING WORTH DOING

At present we have this rare and good human life of freedom and fortune, but it won’t last forever. We are certain to die and don’t know when. At death nothing at all but our spiritual practice will be of any use to us. That is the only thing worth doing—everything else is a futile waste of energy. We tire ourselves for the sake of reward and reputation and in our search for the kind of companions we prefer, but we can take none of these with us when we die. They must be left behind and only the imprints of negative actions we have performed in the process of trying to acquire them accompany us to our next rebirth. This is not hard to understand, but we must remember it and think about it till it affects the way we think and feel.

from Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment,
by Geshe Sonam Rinchen

Whether we believe in a life after death or not, I am sure many of us can relate to the fact that every destination that we reach, we always face ourselves with the fact that we are still not happy, well at least after the first flush of the victory lap that we deserve to enjoy. So, are all goals really futile as is mentioned by Geshe Rinchen above or is that thrill of the victory lap all there is to our destinations? If most of us are honest, we may realize that we assume explicitly or implicitly, admitted or not,   that our destinations are the very definition of our happiness.

Well, even though the goals might be futile, there is perhaps a healthy value in understanding it as futile and still pursuing it for the heck of it, or well for the value the journey brings.  It just doesn’t matter whether we even reach those ‘futile’ destinations.  But the ‘positive efforts’ we make while on the road/roads that we take to possibly reach that destination, leaves behind something that we can take with us in our deaths.  Habits of mind stays with us.  As long as we make sure its not something that we would rather not like to carry with us.

Goals may not just be for the sake of ‘giving happiness’ to us. Destinations and goals do contribute to humanity in some way or the other in addition to its potent capacity to contribute to inflating our ego and our suffering.  But to fixate on it and associate a lot of substance to the value of the destination or goal is pointless. Because even that contribution is most likely temporary and thereby insubstantial in the larger scheme of things.

And what about the spiritual practice that the quote suggests as its main message? I think its difficult to deny  that practising more love, joy, peace and focus and getting to  experience ‘truths’ beyond the general appearances of life runs deep and stays with us for other experiences even in this life? So why not if it can stay with us after our death, if there is indeed a life after death? And why not strengthen them using some prescribed spiritual practices whatever suits us best?

So I like to say that the only thing worth doing is to be alert, awake and aware; positive, persistent and patient;  explore, enquire and enjoy; love, laugh and let go while we walk on the roads in our journeys towards whatever destination we set our minds on.  If some choose to walk on the road with a destination of enlightenment that is great or if some walk without any  fancy success destination at all, that may be great too.

Check this cool and humorous article, which to me, gave  the same message without using all those heavier words explicitly… ;-).

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre Entrepreneurs
http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/19/the-7-habits-of-highly-effective-mediocre-entrepreneurs/

Enjoy,

Shalini

Posted in Achieving Serenity, Art of Letting Go, Transforming Negativity, Transforming sabotaging self-talk | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dont Quit! a nice story I found

I found this story in one of the forwards from my friend. Its an uplifting story for those who are going through a rough phase of life when sometimes every door seemingly appears closed….or nothing seems to sprout in life ….

One day I decided to quit…

I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality. I wanted to quit my life. I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God”, I said. “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”

His answer surprised me. “Look around”, He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes”, I replied.

When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo.

In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said.

“In the third year, there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit. In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. “I would not quit.” He said. “Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.

Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots.

Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive. I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”

He said to me. “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots.”

“I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you. Don’t compare yourself to others.” He said. “The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet, they both make the forest beautiful.”

Your time will come, God said to me. You will rise high! “How high should I rise?” I asked.

How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can? I questioned.

“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.

So never QUIT…but Quit the Rat Race ….compete only with yourself….be the best God created you to be.

Rise as high and as beautiful as only you can!!!

 Rise!   Rise!

Some reflections from me:
Nothing really is permanent…all phases rise slowly, reach its peak, and then fall slowly , whether its an up phase or a down phase of life. Everything is cyclic, while the rise, the peak, the fall…are all necessary parts of the phase. This shall also pass!

So if nothing seems to be moving or worst if everything seems to be moving down, no need to panic, its just a necessary phase. Be patient, learn, let it be, let it go and always know that there is a rise. When things go great also, dont forget to know that this is also a cyclic phase, so dont get attached too much, so that we dont have to suffer due to ‘hunger’ or craving pangs later.

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Being Non-judgemental, just what does it mean?

The wise say : ‘It is good for ourselves and others to be non-judgmental. Being judgemental makes relationships difficult and sour. Being non-judgemental brews harmonious and wholesome relationships.’ Saying it is really easy isn’t it. When I look at a mean woman who is boasting herself and showing her possessions off or when I look at a nasty friend who tries to backstab me and make his way off, oh well, when I look at those people who call themselves ‘good’ and make it a big farce of ‘goodness’ and ‘righteousness’ with a snobbishness that they do not realize they trouble others with, well how the hell am I supposed to stay ‘non-judgemental’ of them and just what does that mean?

This thought in my mind intrigued me for quite sometime after an incident.

One of my friends was relating to me her experience. Her marriage is going through bit of a rough patch. She visited another couple’s house and related to me how the lady there kept telling her how happy she was in her marriage and how bad my friend’s husband is. And the gentleman there, kept ‘advising’ my friend’s husband of how wrong he is and how bad he is. All the while emphasizing the fact that they ( the lady and the gentleman ) are very ‘lucky’ and special, intensifying the pain for my friend, while she felt more doomed and miserable in her situation.

Hearing this, I felt some uncomfortable sensations passing through my body. I felt this couple smacked of ‘self-righteousness’ and ‘self-aggrandizement’. And to think that this couple was doing all that with a supposed intention of ‘setting right’ my friend’s family was even more disturbing. I would have been just as hurt as my friend had been, if I were in her position.

While I listened to this tale from my friend, I was able to empathize with the pain and hurt that she felt. My friend showed immense courage and wisdom however, in intending to let it go and still wish the couple extended happiness. I felt however that its better that she keeps her distance for now from that couple who are on a ‘high’ in their lives and who would definitely not understand what it is that is needed to actually guide and help my friend’s marriage.

My friend left after a touching tete-a-tete with me. After she left, my mind was for a moment filled with strong dislike towards that couple who are mutual friends for me too, with whom I had long started maintaining a distance. But something was wrong… something… not just in them but in my own thoughts towards them. I could not put my fingers on it. All I knew was that my mind was disturbed and no attempt to look at this couple with loving-kindness seem to help. It simply didn’t come from my heart and peace seemed to run afar from my mind.

I woke up on this Sunday morning feeling quite pained by these thoughts. I meditated for the morning hour as usual. The thoughts ran in my mind for sometime. Before long, my mind was more concentrated on the meditation, ignoring the thoughts which silenced within a few minutes. After an hour’s session, my mind was feeling refreshed for sometime. As I had my morning chaay, the earlier thoughts started to rush in again.

This time however, only one thought struck me dominantly, ‘just what is it, that is wrong with my feelings towards this couple? ‘. It’s true that I strongly sensed the ‘self-righteousness’ and ‘self-aggrandizement’ and what I felt as sheer selfishness of this couple. Whatever was wrong with me, still that ‘judgment’ had less chances to be wrong, I presumed. So if I am to be non-judgmental, just what does that mean and just how does that benefit anyways? Is being non-judgmental something very idealistic that is only the walk of highly evolved saints and not ordinary mortals like us? Oh, but such admonishing is given by saints for ordinary mortals like me indeed, says my conscience. How the hell does it help at all then?, I wondered.

And then a a-haaa struck , a flash of insight , well if I might call it so. Being judgmental does not mean that we brush aside and suppress the fact that somebody’s action is potentially causing unwholesomeness for others and themselves. It just means that when we see something unwholesome in action either in others or in our own selves, we don’t need to DISLIKE the behavior or the people involved. On the same lines, when we see something fine and wholesome in other’s behavior we don’t need to LIKE it. The moment we start Liking, we seed an equal potential to dislike. And once we start preferring things, we brew misery and disharmony.

A simple objective observation of how wholesomeness brews harmony and love is good, but to start to favour the people who behave so, as though that is special is actually a cause of misery, if you look at it deeply. The more we think wholesome behavior is ‘special’, the more we start to hate unwholesomeness in others and in our own selves. The more we hate something, the more we clasp it, and the more incapable we become in truly learning the art of letting go of unwholesomeness. Unwholesomeness needs to be seen for what it is, accepted and simply not meddle with it and wish it to change. Letting go means to simply let it be and let it pass without our impositions and forcefulness. Letting go means not to take action on it and from it.

For long, I have been able to see my own unwholesome behavior with a certain kind of an objectivity, that does not require any shame or guilt. It just requires us to see them ‘as it is’. ‘Ok, my anger or my fear is there. It is impermanent and it will go. It arises with a cause and I don’t have to believe what it says. It has its own nature’. Understanding its nature, I simply allow it to pass when it has to, without having to force it out or wanting badly to change it. Struggling against habitual tendencies to force out my unwholesomeness, eventually I come to a place of peace with it.

Similarly, instead of saying ‘this couple is selfish and insensitive’, I can just see it as, ‘there is selfishness at this moment in this couple. It comes and it passes’. For all the sensibility that I have seen in them previously, this particular nature will heal too. I don’t have to ‘box’ this couple as selfish and insensitive. They are humans just as vulnerable as me to the quirks of the mind and the psyche. I don’t need to dislike the couple for this purpose, just as I don’t dislike myself for whatever unwholesomeness I struggle with, within myself. I know that unwholesomeness in one always harms oneself first before it harms others. It’s a fact that I perceive unwholesomeness in this couple. This couple might suffer due to their unwholesomeness if what I perceive is true.

Now a wish passed in my mind, may they heal and come out of their suffering as soon as is possible. May a higher force help them, just as it helps me. If I dislike them for my perception of their behavior, then I should dislike myself for whatever unwholesomeness I perceive in myself. And I have known that is not wise or beneficial.

Lesson learnt: When there is unwholesomeness in oneself or the other, recognize it for what it is: its potential to harm oneself and others. Accept it and look at it more like how a mother looks at a fractious kid. Just like how the unwholesomeness is handled with care, caution and love within myself and just like how I give it a loving space to heal, just so, the others whom I tend to ‘judge’ need to be given the same space to heal. I don’t need to change them, I don’t need to give them a piece of my mind. I need to let go of their behavior. I need to pray for them and if at all I need to be of help for them to heal truly if they are willing to take that help. At the least, I need to wish that they get every possible appropriate help for them to soon realize and heal their unwholesomeness if what I have perceived is true. At the same time, I need to wish my own friend who suffered their unwholesomeness and wish that she continues to be wise and let go of them for sometime.

To reflect a little deeply, not to judge others as well as oneself is to see things objectively for what it is, just as it is. Not to judge is to recognize the truth of impermanence, of phenomena which arise due to a cause and passes out when the cause is deplenished. Not to judge is to realize that ‘persons’ don’t cause their behaviors. The mind within me, its nature, is the same in others as it is in me. We are all one. We are all the same. Unwholesomeness in others is a manifestation of the same mind, the same nature in ‘me’ too. The moment ‘I’ am separate from others, the first to suffer is ‘I’.

Simply speaking, I was able to feel deeply what the wise meant: not to judge others means to let go of liking or disliking them or their behaviors and allowing them space to be human. And that space is to be allowed within our own minds.

Calm and peace. Then it was that a feeling of loving-kindness from deep within my heart welled up towards this couple just like how it did for my friend and for myself too!. It made my day enriched. I was humbled.

Check out another post on “Sleight of judgmentalism” https://emotionallyintelligentleader.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/sleight-of-judgmentalism-seeing-through-it/

Posted in Achieving Serenity, Affected by What People Say?, Art of Letting Go, Transforming Negativity | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vipassana and Serenity

I just finished a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat in Bodhgaya, the land of enlightenment of the Buddha. It was a very wonderful experience and there were many learnings. As such I have done several such retreats till now, but this one was special. So thought its time I pen down some thoughts about Vipassana here.

Vipassana means ‘seeing things just as they are’. So what exactly do we see and what exactly do we find ‘just as they are’? Normally in life, we see things and without our conscious awareness we form concepts and meanings of it. Based on these concepts and meanings we also quite unconsciously develop deep roots of likes and dislikes towards whatever we ‘see’ and experience. This is true starting from the simplest things like eating and sleeping to complex things like politics, economics, relationships work etc.

Wherever we suffer in any area of life, it invariably boils down to three fundamental reasons. First, we remember having experienced or are experiencing a thing that we like. We either crave to get back that experience or we fear of losing the pleasant experience and want to prolong it. From what we like, arises fear or craving and our actions gets distorted and unwise due to it, causing us and others much suffering and pain. Second, we remember having experienced or are experiencing something unpleasant. We either fear that experience or simply hate the current experience and want to get away from it. From what we dislike, arises fear or hatred and our actions arising out of this again become unwholesome causing much pain and suffering to us and others. Thirdly, we have this concept called ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and due to this concept, anguish arises due to hurt, pride, blame, guilt and conceit or craving for fame, praise and gain.

And so what does this mean? Surely, I can’t stop liking or disliking things, how can I be stoic in life and what’s the point living a life like that? Well no, it just means there’s a different way to experience pleasure and sorrow. And what’s this different way and how does it help anyways?

You see a rose, you see its beauty, and something happens inside – electrochemical reactions in our body. You see a snake or an ugly undesirable experience and the same thing happens inside our nervous system – electrochemical reactions, albeit being unpleasant and hated. That much is a no-brainer. But what we need to realize that, when we suffer, we suffer because our mind clutches on to the sensations that is caused by these electro-chemical reactions. We are unaware both of these bodily sensations taking place every moment of our life and also of the way in which our mind tends to hold them in a foolish way, causing knots in our nervous system and leading to anguish and woes.

For every thought, every feeling and every emotion, we experience these bodily sensations without us being conscious of it. When there is a pleasant sensation, our minds want it to last forever and when there is an unpleasant sensation, our mind wants to remove it. However, in ignorance our minds does not understand that, pleasant or unpleasant, the sensations last for as long as whatever energy causes it and it goes away when that causal energy depletes. Pleasant sensations will go away how much ever we want it to stay on…and unpleasant sensations cannot go away however much we try to force it out. Our mind’s efforts at clutching at them, only results in those energies to reside back as a residue, as a potential energy in our system. Hence it remains as a pattern of habitual suffering, whether that be in the form of fear , anger, addictions or greed or conceit. Layers and layers of such residue develops within our mind without our awareness. The potential energies of such residue, just rises its head up whenever there is a suitable trigger outside, causing us pain and suffering.

On the surface we tend to attribute any pain caused, to an external stimulus and we might try to change our thoughts , change our situations and we might feel we resolved our suffering. We watch TV, we go out with friends, have a cup of coffee, or we pray in a temple perhaps or change our beliefs and thoughts. However, this happens only on the surface, and without being aware of the processes deep inside, we are ignorant that many a time we suppress our suffering and let it multiply deep within our unconscious causing us much anguish later in life. It manifests as habits and addictions. And even if we meditate using concentration techniques the upper layers of our mind remains clear, while all the ‘dust’ settles down at the bottom, only to rise up and dirty up the water when something draws it out!.

Vipassana is like a churner, which churns up all the settled down dirt and gives us a tool to remove that dirt and cleanse and purify the system, slowly and steadily, little by little. Clarity and Serenity is achieved at the deep unconscious roots, not just at the surface. Just by ‘seeing’ our mind with a special super penetrating eye, the mind’s eye.

I find this technique very effective, because it helps us to ‘see’ our minds at that depth which we are normally unconscious of. And it involves no analysis, no philosophy, and no religious beliefs. Just like how the mind has a capacity to solve numbers, to read and speak languages, it has a cognitive ability to be aware of these minute sensations that take place every fraction of a second in our body. And these sensations are closely related to what happens in our mind. Once we awaken this special faculty of awareness, we then practice how to let go our minds at the level of bodily sensations. By simply exercising this much ignored and untapped cognitive faculty of our minds, we achieve transformations in mind at a very deep level. And this is what we practice in Vipassana.

For 10 days, we do nothing but this work. We undergo an immersion course to awaken and sharpen this fascinating faculty of our mind, with the help of which, we release deep rooted knots in our conscious and unconscious minds. The first 3 days, we work on sharpening our minds to dip into this unconscious processes, by concentrating continuously on the incoming and outgoing breath for almost 10 hrs a day. The remaining 7 days, we work on becoming acutely aware of our constantly occurring bodily sensations, on watching its close relationship with our mind, on practising to reverse the habit of the mind to react to these sensations. And once we learn how to let go at this deep unconscious level with awareness, we begin to observe that there are gradual and steady transformations in our behaviors and habit patterns – anger, fear, lust, addictions etc.

During the practice there is no focus on specific gross habit patterns, they just arise and when they arise they arise along with bodily sensations . They are all observed at the fundamental level of how we crave for it, how we relish it, how we run away from it, how we fear it. We practice to focus on working on releasing the sensations instead of focusing on the content or object of anger or fear for eg. Or focusing on letting go of abstract anger or fear. Letting go happens more at a very fundamental level rather than on abstract levels. The more we develop that art of releasing on the level of bodily sensations, the more easier it becomes to release our habitual behavior patterns on more grosser levels of our mind. The three fundamental causes of suffering is seen for what it is, clearly and sharply and a way out is also experienced just as acutely, without having to know a lot of philosophy or theories.

Well, easily said than done. It requires patience, persistence and perseverance to get a hold on the whole practice. Just building up the three P’s by it self is a good practice and using it for the purpose of releasing our deeply rooted unconscious ignorance is super beneficial.

Sitting through the hourly sessions all through the day and seeing my mind exercise its faculty in observing the sensations with a continued sense of equanimity, whether it was gross or subtle, pleasant or unpleasant, having the experience of seeing the gross pain dissolve and seeing my mind develop more and more a sense of impermanence was an absolutely amazing experience for me. I could feel my consciousness getting more and more tuned to habitually seeing impermanence in many aspects of the mind both internally and externally. And that kind of a consciousness helps a lot in letting go of many things without having to make a lot of rational and logical analysis of situations, thoughts, feelings and beliefs, persons and concepts. Things start to transform very naturally.

It’s still a long way to go, but for however little I have treaded my path on this simple road, it has really helped a lot in my daily life. My anger has come down a whole lot and I see more and more clarity in my thinking, a lot of love and joy, compassion and kindness, a lot more calm and serenity in what I would call quite a turbulent life, coming a long way compared to the ‘dazed and confused’ soul that I had been for a very long time… :-). A deep gratitude for this practice and for the whole of whatever life gave to me!

Today I laugh more and enjoy more…but in quite a different way many times. I suffer too, and still even that experience differs. After years of practice of Vipassana, I might say, the consciousness with which I experience life in all its colours, starts to change little by little. I feel confident that I see myself evolving, changing towards more positivity and wholesomeness, although of course there are hiccups and obstacles along the way. Sometimes I sway off track, but once on track , it feels like home. I never stop getting fascinated with this amazing and largely untapped cognitive faculty of the mind, which is simply not taught in our schools or anywhere else, yet we are all so capable of it. When we experience its like a a-ha, I didn’t know my mind has this faculty and it can work this way! We come out more clearer, more purer and with a clarity that just naturally and effortlessly spears ahead our daily journey in life as well as lead us to spiritual evolution.

Here’s a link to the Vipassana webpage:
http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml

Enjoy,
Shalini

Posted in Achieving Serenity, Emotional Intelligence | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happiness comes only if

You can seek happiness successfully only if you are already happy. Otherwise you are a fool, because you wont get it anyways? Hmmm….What?

I may not be having a great job – it doesn’t give me great money or it doesn’t give me a great feeling of excitement or validation or significance or identity. Or I may not be having a great love/family and feel empty there. Or I may be having a debilitating illness or experiencing a befallen misfortune or an infliction of theft/abuse/cruelty/disrepute/poverty…the list is endless.

Naturally, I want what I lack, because that’s what I feel will make me happy. If only this or that is not there in my life, I can be very happy Or some would feel : Its all because of this or that , I feel unfortunate, unloved or unworthy or doomed.

Come rain we want shine. Come shine, we want rain.. .can you relate to this? Its only human.

Or otherwise, come rain, we want a better rain and even  better rain. Come shine, we want a better shine and an even better shine. Come fire, we fear it, come wind we still fear we will loose it and the dreaded fire will rage.

I want the present to change, ever cries our soul. The present does change, but no I want it to change just the way I want it, I want full control!

And what do the wise prescribe for this chronic human illness that pervades almost all of the so called ‘normal and healthy’ people around the world?

“When we seek money, or a good relationship, or a great job, what we are really seeking is happiness. The mistake we make is not going for happiness first. If we did, everything else would follow.” – Deepak Chopra

Isn’t that quite a paradoxical statement?

Now if I am already happy, it means I don’t feel any lack then, why do I need a good health, or wealth, or status or achievement then? Zero Hour Question? And the wise say, that is why life is  a Game and you just need to learn the Art of Playing Life..

So come what may be your situation, if you want to be truly happy, you better be happy with your current situation first. That’s the Secret?

And still more paradoxically, when we actually get the things that make us happy, we tend to more easily fall into states of greed, jealousy, envy, conceit, and Fear etc. And this I believe,  lead us to our fall from whatever we sought after and attained. Getting those things of happiness leads most of us more easily to our fall.

“From pleasure arises sorrow; from pleasure arises fear.
To him who is free from pleasure there is no sorrow.
Whence, then, comes fear?”  – Buddha.

Yet another Secret…sigh.

The purpose of every moment of our life, come what may be our situation, is to be at peace with it, is to be happy then? Happiness then, is simple serenity, the joy of equanimity and tranquility, not the joy and pleasure of high thrills and burning passions. Happiness then is simply to fully absorb the present moment, moment by moment.

Some wisdom quotes below:

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy… From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” — Dalai Lama

“When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing, then the supreme state will come to you uninvited and unexpected.”

By: Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“This silence, this moment, Every moment, If it’s genuinely inside you, Brings what you need.” ~Rumii♥

“To attain happiness in harmony with the Tao, one should seek a life of complete simplicity and naturalness and non- interference with the course of natural events.” — Lao-tzu

“When we stop trying to force things to happen, we can hold on to our power and energy by going with the natural flow of things, for time flows freely with the life force. And this awareness, possible only in each moment, reminds us there is no destination in time, only appreciation of the journey.” – Higher Awareness Quote by John and Patrice Robson

Enjoy and take care,
Shalini

Posted in Art of Letting Go, Shared Wisdom, Transforming Negativity | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Law of Attraction for Dummies, My Rants ‘n Raves.

Do you have no idea of this ‘law’? No? It might be a good to get updated on this ‘latest phenomena’ which is running its rounds like wild fire in many circles on the internet, coaching, motivational, and soft-training and amazingly even in spiritual circles. Some people think it’s a ‘fad’ and a ‘hype’, some vouch and give their life to prove its truth. Please google and check it out , lest somebody rushes it all into your subconscious mind as a ‘revolutionary law’ without giving you a chance to critically think about it.

The law of attraction was largely advocated in a movie called the ‘Secret’. It was quite a long time back, I was facing a rough patch in life and wanted solutions, when I had decided on buying the movie and I have been very intrigued by it ever since. Today this law has made up a million dollar industry and it gives huge promises for the most commonly experienced needs of all and sundry humanity. Well, all marketable products do that, nothing shocking there.

So if you didn’t google about this yet, the law of attraction says….please desire, desire, desire and you get what you desire and you get infinite happiness and its easy…all you have to do is to keep desiring, albeit in a very positive way. And run from your lack and suffering..they are not supposed to be there in the larger design and scheme of things. Well, that’s their claim to ‘spirituality’, and even more shockingly so, they claim the Buddha also advocates this law. Quite contradictorily I believe that the Buddha proclaimed that desire is the CAUSE of suffering and that suffering is inevitable in life.

Can you imagine: You will get whatever you want: is it a bike, is it a car, is it a booming business, is it your dream love …who doesn’t want this? Now that there is a law which will make you get it and also be spiritual. Now that’s called life isn’t it. The law of attraction tells simply ‘Ask’, ‘Believe’ and ‘Receive’…. Its like a magic wand.

You ask anybody who doesn’t know the LOA, I am sure, people say that at least a few things in their life, which they wished for, they got it and at least a subset of that few was ‘exactly’ as they wished. Some other things are something they never wished for yet were made to ‘suffer’ them.  We know nobody wishes for ill-health, or loss of life, or abuse, or misfortune. Well, if we go by the laws, what you get by wishing is through the law of attraction, what you get out of ‘luck’ without efforts ( a lottery, a gift etc ) is through either or both law of attraction and law of karma, and if somebody gets raped, abused etc..its the law of karma, some say even that is ‘attracted’.

I personally am neither a sage nor a seer nor a clairvoyant or a prophet with visions. Neither do I have the expertise to say this law is wrong or right. Do I have personal evidence? Well, as mentioned earlier, definitely there are things that I wished and got it, but no, till now I have not got what all that I have wished. I really wonder if this law can help with this wish to fly in air or at the least like how another friend of mine wishes: to stand on a wing of a flying airplane along with him on the other wing…;-).

We all know somewhere in the corner of our hearts that perpetual wanting is counter-productive. We know that when we get that dream house or a dream job, its not necessarily a cake-walk for our lives or the end of sorrow for us. The normal human habit of ‘ignorance’ as spelt out by the wise remains the same…whether the law of attraction is true or not. If you ask me, my conscience would rather believe in the law of karma, which at the least says that you better keep restraint on greed.

The law of attraction shockingly says that you have a right to desire and get every damn thing that you desire,…well as long as you desire the ‘good things in life’. So once you believe this..please dream big and get it and that’s all there is, to be spiritual as per this law. The corollary, is to keep dreaming and keep getting till you are abundantly filled with infinite wishes fulfilled. One reason you should eliminate fear, is that you anyway will get what you desire from your true heart, so why worry that something will not work….? And further, the moment you fear something, you attract what you fear, so goes this law.

“I recall an article by a physical fitness expert critiquing The Secret; she noted that the secret which works isn’t “ask, believe, and receive”, but is rather along the lines of “ask, plan, work, apply discipline, endure disappointment, believe, work more, learn from mistakes, adjust your plan, work more, persist, celebrate small successes, overcome moments of despair, and don’t give up – and your chances of receiving increase.” An honest look at those who have accomplished something truly inspirational indicates that this is closer to the formula they applied. “- a comment in the Skeptics Dictionary website.

And I like this even more, again from the Skeptics Dictionary: “If you want to succeed at something, draw up a plan of action. List what you want to achieve. List what you must do to achieve your goals in the order you must do them. Specify how you are going to measure success at each step along the way. Anything on the list that requires you to passively wait for somebody else to act must be eliminated from your list before you continue. If you can’t achieve your goals without the help of others, pick the best people possible to help you and listen to them when they offer advice. Go down the list and check off each item as it is completed. If an item can’t be completed, don’t blame others. Come up with an alternative plan. Then move on to the next item. When you’ve accomplished all your goals, make up another list of goals and start over. Reaching one’s goal is usually not as satisfying as striving to achieve it. Anyway, some goals aren’t worth achieving. You’ll do well to re-examine your goals regularly and weed out the worthless ones. ”

Visioning and Visualizing is good in some ways. Feeling optimistic is good in some ways. Positive thinking is good for goals, good for life in some ways. But many times, if we do not use our discernment and discrimination, it can become delusional positivity. Its  important to realize that it can potentially reduce an acknowledgement of our innate human capacity to endure suffering with a calm mind, which is one trait that humans are born with for a very important reason I presume.

The truth of life is that ‘suffering is inevitable’…the positive truth about that truth is also that ‘all suffering can be eradicated’…but that requires efforts… and it definitely does not prescribe unrestrained desire , perpetually wanting things for happiness.

The Buddha gives a strenuous 8 fold path for it and I am sure almost all spiritual masters from all ages and spheres have mentioned something on similar lines. And how might this law reconcile with another law called ‘renunciation’ that so many spiritual masters have prescribed for true and final emancipation and ‘moderation’ or what is called as ‘middle way’ for householders?

The fact that goal or ‘intention’ setting is good, the fact that visioning big dreams makes us reach for the best, the fact that simply getting things or even success is not really happiness, the fact that negativity hinders goal attainment, the fact that we all know  true happiness is elsewhere yet we mortals still pursue all those fascinating  material things…doesn’t really change much with the knowledge of this law even if its true. But I suspect we might become delusional in thinking that indeed now we can get everything that we want, and that’s actually the way to our true liberation and freedom! and that’s the danger that I see in advocating this law, personally.

The intensity with which we love a thing,  creates an innate potential to cause us an equal or much more than proportional intensity of suffering if we cannot get it or if we loose it after getting it: most of us can relate to that and vouch for that right?  Our happiness is inevitably a package that comes with a potential of suffering, is that wrong? Yes it is according to this law which states that we are sure to get it from an ‘infinitely abundant source’ as long as we follow all its prescribed ‘secrets’.

Most religions say that material attainments are inevitably ephemeral… but today this law seems to say…no it isn’t….because this law includes a sub-law called law of infinite abundance, which means all resources are infinitely available, whether that is money or health doesn’t matter. And that’s what we all intrinsically wish to be true isn’t it…even if that’s counter to our common sense. Could the proclaimers of this law, especially those who make millions by ‘teaching this law to us’… be exploiting this very human fallibility of wanting an infinite land of free and ever lasting happiness? I wonder.

Laws are laws, when it comes to that. I neither advocate this law though nor dispel it as nonsense. I just stand back, study it and watch it with the same intrigue at what it is going to do to humanity, as it kind of stung me the first time I watched it in the ‘Secret’, :-)….well…its only human of me…I feel…perhaps more sillily so …. Because I still check out every new freely available detail of this secret and update myself with it to see if there is really not something that I am perhaps missing to see.……. I have unanswered questions on the law for sure.

Well, you can also check out stories about the success of this law here:
http://storiesandtruth.wordpress.com/
I follow the stories with keen interest….

Enjoy,
Shalini

Posted in Shared Wisdom | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

did you hire a guard yet?

When a suspicious person prowls around your house, you are watchful. You keep an alert on his activities. And if that person threatens to move into your house, then you call the police instantly, see to it that he is stopped. When its raining or snowing , you clean up any dirt around your home. You see that water doesn’t leak in. When guests come in, you welcome them, but take care that you do not entertain undesirable guests and are cautious with them. Sometimes you keep them away, if you know they are not ‘good’ for your welfare. You guard your house well, don’t you?

Today I wondered, how often are we as alert, attentive and protective are we when it comes to our own mind which is our very core engine that drives us into action? Generally, we are reactive and are tossed around and swayed by the whims of the mind as it wants based on random external triggers isn’t it?

When we are overwhelmed with fear, anger and such other negativity, how often haven’t we ‘entertained’ it, believed it and let it dwell on, as though it was our most honored well-wisher? We many times perhaps forget to consider such negativity as fear, doubt, anger etc as ‘suspicious’. How often have we even been aware that a negative state of mind has overpowered us and started to wield its power over us?

Have you made conscious efforts to protect your inner home from these potent invaders? Were you alert when they prowled into your field? If it were your guest, did you try to be cautious of it or did you simply embrace it (sometimes even invited it) not seeing through its disguise?

I just had a day today, where I consciously practised this with this metaphor of welcome and unwelcome guests and invading thieves. It proved to be not only useful in improving my self-awareness but also reminded me to wake up and confront my negativity when it arose, by making a clear conscious invocation of a positive state of mind, either by the practice of ‘metta’ ( a practice of emanating vibrations of loving kindness and friendliness ), or by practice of Vipassana ( which gives a subtle awareness of impermanence of the negative states ) or sometimes simply by affirming that ‘I can be more calm and centered or courageous or persistent’.

Often I have been swayed by negative states, wasting away my time and distorting my actions and decisions and causing disturbances in my relationship with my near and dear ones. The damage imposed by powerful negative states of mind is often under-estimated. They fester inside, grow and finally when its too late, they are potent enough to sabotage and even devastate many of our crucial endeavours.

I realized that by a simple daily prayer to constantly remind ourselves to be self-aware, we can more often use the simple techniques we learn and actually ‘guard’ the mind and keep it in a state that is more amenable for our well-being. It helps to catch our negative states of mind more often and makes us more agile at working on transforming it into a positive state.

It is wise indeed to ‘prepare’ ourselves to be alert and guard our minds, by practising techniques as a preventive measure consciously everyday. Meditation practices and positive thinking affirmations are really worth the time, just as much as physical exercises are an investment for our fitness and health.

Self-awareness works…its beneficial. Its like a watchdog who keeps constant vigil to protect our house and welfare. In my experience, it has not been easy to practice it but slow and steady, persistent efforts pay. Practising self-awareness I can vouch for it..is as important and perhaps more so, than hiring a guard to protect our treasured property. :-). Thought I would share this experience here and recommend hiring this special guard for you, my friends… :-), if you have not already done so.

Enjoy,
Shalini

Posted in Achieving Serenity, Emotional Intelligence, Transforming Negativity | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leading your Life or Living your Life?

Is there a difference between leading life and living life?

If things happen for you because of uncontrollable life conditions, then you live life.
If life conditions happen because of  your conscious intentions and volitions, then you lead life.

If you blame life, then you live life.
If you take that which ‘happens’ and make it ‘happening’, then you lead life.

If life challenges seems only like a helpless destiny for you, you live life.
If life challenges  seems like a hired sculptor of your inner life, then you lead life.

If others define what success means for you, then you live life.
If you define your own meaning of success, then you lead life.

When the winds blow and you stand straight and break, you live life.
When the winds blow and you bend down and let it pass, you lead life.

If you see life as imperfect, you live life.
If you can see life as perfect, you lead life.

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I Choose to Believe

Notice your self-talk when you are emotionally ‘down’. When we are emotionally down or negative, our world appears uncontrollably negative: untrustworthy or cruel or disheartening or hateful. It turns out that generally our perceived realities especially when we are in a negative state of mind, is far from actuality.

Many a time, we assume things and believe it to be an authoritative truth. Many a time we also work from beliefs that were drilled into us through our childhood experiences. Based on how we reacted to things as a child, we form beliefs that appear to be unalterable truths for us. Many of our negative thoughts emerge from such beliefs. And these ‘truths’ which we believe on its face, takes us down the path of demonic negativity that can sabotage our emotional well-being. We become slaves of a false reality and allow it to damage our emotional health and also sabotage our true possibilities of success in our external world.

For eg, consider these self-talk statements:
Nobody cares for me.
He is trying to avoid me.
She is trying to humiliate me

If you attack the above statements, it might reveal that actually there is definitely a possibility and even a reasonably high probability that actually ‘there are people who care for me’, that ‘he is not trying to avoid me, but simply its his nature to be more quieter’, and that ‘she never meant to humiliate me, but was asking questions for her own information’.

Whenever you are in a negative state, here are some steps to bust that state:

1. First always be aware that the world will appear far more negative than in reality.
2. Second, whatever sentences run in your mind, Prefix it with ‘I choose to believe that’.
For eg: instead of saying ‘Nobody cares for me’… use ‘I choose to believe that nobody cares for me’. This reminds you that you are making a CHOICE every moment actually to sabotage yourself. Just making that statement brings your subconscious mind a responsibility and a push to make a better choice.
3. Third, counter the negative sentences. Even though our minds in a negative state LOVES to( yes believe me )…it LOVES to think and believe all the negative self-talk, you should make an upstream effort, if you are serious about coming out of negativity. And one simple way is to repeat an opposite of a negative statement EVEN IF it might sound unreal to you in that state of mind.

For eg: ‘I choose to believe that nobody cares for me’ go further….. ‘I choose to believe there are people who care for me’…go further ‘this person has actually cared for me in the past and maybe today he/she is in a rough phase coping with his/her own nature’….go further ‘I choose to emanate vibrations of loving kindness to this person’…..go further….’I choose to believe that I take highest care of myself, come what may’….go further….’I choose to believe that a higher force always cares for me’… now you are ready to go really further and affirm …’I live in a world that truly cares for me and loves me’.

Whenever we use ‘I choose to believe….’ it gives enormous power to our subconscious to choose a better positive belief that raises our vibrations. Remember positive vibrations attract positive events, negative vibrations attract negative events in your life.

While it might not be possible to change overnight, we need to persistently keep trying to raise our vibrations in a negative state of mind. When we say ‘I choose to believe…’ with feeling and emotion of those words, our subconscious will take a message of responsibility and ownership of the situation, deeply into our mind. Psychology has it that language and usage of words is the most simplest, yet a very powerful mechanism of changing deep rooted habits and beliefs that tend to sabotage us.

When positive vibrations occur, it attracts positive events and intensifies our positive vibrations, which in turn attract more positive events. Thus a mutually feeding cycle is put into motion and positivity will rush into your life :-). Unfortunately the same happens with negativity…negative thoughts leads to negative vibrations…that leads to negative events in life…this leads to intensifying negative vibrations… attracts more negative events…… :-(.

Generally, we all have a mix of positive and negative thoughts and vibrations. We need to intelligently manage them, by using simple tricks and techniques that ‘program’ our subconscious minds.

We need to attack our beliefs more strongly sometimes if we see that they are repetitively causing us to perceive the world in a negative way. Check out this worksheet and use it to bust deep rooted beliefs.
CB104_ExamineOneBelief_Worksheet

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Part 3 – Understanding Emotional Frameworks in self and others

Say, your drive in your work is ‘security’, while your ‘achievement’ is what drives your boss.  When you are aware of this, it will be possible for you to communicate to your boss in such a way that it fulfils his expectation of achievement.  At the same time,  you can make it clear to him about your need for security and evoke his understanding in that respect. 

Compare that to a person, who just knows that there is some kind of a vague fear in him of his future and instead of expressing it to the boss, he just complains to others, frets and fumes with his boss. And finally resigns to  thinking that his boss ‘just doesn’t understand’ and assumes he has a ‘selfish’ boss.

Say you want to communicate an important decision to your spouse or family. First be aware of what need it is fulfilling for yourself and what need it might threaten and/or fulfil in your spouse or family members. If we communicate based on this awareness, the chances of misunderstandings are lesser and the chances of it being accepted is higher. Discussions are more meaningful, compassionate and intelligent.

Each person’s priority or ranking of his/her emotional drive/need in different personal and professional circumstances are different. Some might rank ‘love and belonging’ highest when it comes to family, some might rank ‘security’ highest. The same person could rank ‘achievement’ as highest in his profession, while another could rank ‘contribution’ as highest. Understanding these differences is also a key to improve our circle of tolerance and our serenity in handling situations.

You are called to make a decision or make an important communication or change, personal or professional. Ask yourself these questions after drawing out options:
If I prioritize my needs and analyse how will each option fulfil them, which would be my best decision? How is my decision going to affect the needs of the people or stakeholders involved?  Will it suck somebody’s need and prove my decision counter-productive? Can I afford to compromise on a need of mine, to fulfil another?  If I take this option, how will it affect all my emotional drives , what will I gain and what will I loose in terms of fulfilment of my drives?

Take a free assessment to evaluate your need for significance/importance ( Click on the link, and again click on the link on the page that opens up, to download the assessment. You need to have Microsoft Office installed on your computer to take this assessment )

Part 1
Part 2

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Part 2 – Understanding Emotional Framework in self and others

Let us briefly understand each of these drives:

    1. Significance/importance : It is this drive that makes us want to feel important, want to feel approved and acknowledged by others. It reflects as wanting titles, recognition, fame, wealth, status for the sake of gaining a ‘position’ in a community or society.
    2. Security and Control : It is the drive to make ourselves feel secure whether in wealth or comfort or emotions. It is this drive that plays a major role in our drive towards ‘saving for future’ or ‘going beyond our comfort zone’ or being risk-averse or risk-friendly. We want to feel the need for predictability and stay in control of our situations and people due to this need.
    3. Diversity and Change: It is the drive to break out of repetitiveness and routine, it’s the drive to actively seek out new experiences in life, whether that be in sports, or in work, or in relationships or in simple recreational ventures and experiences.
    4. Love and Belonging : It is the drive to feel a sense of belonging, to feel loved , to feel warmth, to love , to share and care, to be kind. It is the same drive that leads us to jealousy, possessiveness or emotional manipulation.
    5. Personal Growth and Evolution : It is the drive to seek to improve ourselves, to grow and evolve, to seek truth and wisdom, to seek skill improvement in any area.
    6. Achievement and Challenge: Its is the drive or orientation to achieve more and more higher things, to engage in endeavours that actively challenge our capabilities, skills and emotions and aim for ‘higher’ in terms of achieving results and goals.
    7. Excellence and  Quality: It is the drive to perform a little higher than expected, the passion for fine quality whether that be in work or sports or love or recreation or art.
    8. Contribution and Service: It is the drive to ‘make a difference’,  to ‘value-add’, to ‘be of service’ to others. This does not necessarily encompass only voluntary service or charity, but just the need to add value even in a paid job.

We all KNOW all this, yet, in our awareness, there is no discernment or conscious awareness of whether we act out of this or that need more than others. Often   we have values that are contradictory to the deep-set needs out of which we act and decide and because of this, we tend to make half-hearted efforts or resign ourselves or worse sabotage ourselves unconsciously.  Many times we tend to act under the overwhelming control of certain self-sabotaging beliefs which have emerged out of our deep unconscious drives and needs.

Understanding our needs and how we rank or prioritize it deep down vs how we prioritize it in terms of how we WANT it to be, leads us to more clarity in our decisions and resolves inner conflict. Also if we learn the art of understanding what drives other people, then our interpersonal communication and decision-making  improve to yield us more effective outcomes.

Take a free assessment to evaluate your need for significance/importance ( Click on the link, and again click on the link on the page that opens up, to download the assessment. You need to have Microsoft Office installed on your computer to take this assessment )

Part 1
Part 3

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Part 1: Understanding emotional framework of self and others

Psychology has found that humans act and decide, essentially due to what drives them deep down in the emotional realm.  No matter how much we reason objectively, how we take stock of things using skills and aptitudes, psychology has discovered that its finally our EMOTIONS which drive our major decisions, actions, reactions and behavior and to some extent even our logical perceptions of the world.

Often our emotional realm tends to get ignored or tends to get managed ad-hoc or ‘intuitively’ or worse ‘chaotically’.  When we know that this plays a very critical role in determining what you experience in your life, your attitude, your actions and decisions, there is a strong reason for us to find structure in the complexity and chaos.

Psychological science today, has taken another step forward in understanding and developing emotional intelligence by providing a simplified framework.  Research has identified the following 8 Basic Emotional Needs/Drives , which help us to take stock of our deep needs and attain clarity in our decisions and communication:

1. Significance/Importance
2. Security and Control
3. Diversity and Change
4. Love and Belonging
5. Personal Growth and Evolution
6. Achievement and Challenge
7. Excellence and Quality
8. Contribution and Service

It has been strongly recommended by one of the Top 10 International Leadership Guru , Arthur Carmazzi, to pay extra attention to these drives, when you make a decision, when you face a problem , when you communicate, when you want to take stock of your behaviors and just about any crucial aspect of your life and actions.  In organizations, it can help  increase productivity and buy-in of changes and crucial decisions by addressing employee motivation in terms of these drives/needs.

Take a free assessment to evaluate your need for significance/importance ( Click on the link, and again click on the link on the page that opens up, to download the assessment. You need to have Microsoft Office installed on your computer to take this assessment )

Part 2
Part 3

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Humility

Nowadays I am called to give attention to this ’emotional competence’: humility. It has now and then posed a challenge to me and made me reflect on it. Here are my musings on it.

Every page of our lives, whether we were a child , or a teenager, or a youth or a middle aged person or older person, we always experience people who are something we wished we were and we are not. And at the other end, people who look up on us and who wish they were us. But this is something that will stay with us come what may, even if we consider ourselves contented with where we are , or on the ‘top of the world’ or ‘struggling and down in the dumps’.

The fact is that there never is a ‘top of the world’….. for the simple reason that there is always something more top than the world we are in now…Nor is there a ‘bottom of the world’ for any of us, because each experience is rich and unique if we consider it deeply.

And this is where humility enters as our best friend. Humility is often described as absence of arrogance or ego. I would rather describe it as a state of mind which embraces whatever situation of life that we are in with a full heart.  A state of mind that helps us to accept that things are simply the best meant for us at this moment, for us to learn what we have to and live it fully.  The moment we begin to see other people for validating ourselves, then we loose our energy and heart that we can offer to the present situation. We then make decisions from them and for them, rather than for what is true to us.

It is also the skill of looking at a person who is seemingly at that top of the world, with wonder instead of with a feeling of loss or envy. Take humility a step further, you begin to feel joy at seeing them succeed. Take it further more, you begin to understand and accept with the right kind of serenity, if any of those at the ‘top’ look down upon us. At the same time, we will know how to set our boundaries when they try to become exploitative or condescending.

Humility also comes in when we look at people who are seemingly less than us. It lets us know how to see them not with arrogance or smug superiority but with wonder and curiosity. Curiosity because we know they will have treasures in their personality and situations, which we might not have. We become humble enough to see that with joy and even learn from it. Take it further, you begin to understand and accept with the right kind of serenity, if any of those feel jealous of us. At the same time, we will know how to set boundaries when they try to become manipulative or try to put us down, due to their jealousies.

If humility is understood in its right spirit and practised as a skill, then it might do wonders for us. Its an emotional competence that can be developed and honed and will do nothing but help us. It will not stop us from stretching ourselves or evolving, but will only help us more to do so from a centre of peace and strength. This competence  might not be that difficult either, if we are perhaps able to open ourselves to consider that quality and just make a strong intention to develop, nurture and hone it in us. 

Religions advocate that humility can be best achieved through ‘surrender’, which takes us beyond our non-stop bickering of our rational stream of thoughts, to a state which is simple, calm and at the same time most effective, if we give that a try. It might well be worth the leap of faith.

How has humility helped you to achieve calm , serenity and strength? What challenges has it evoked or helped you face? Do you have any tips from your experiences?

Check out these links here for more perspectives on humility:

http://brooks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/imho/

http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2007/08/30/the-power-of-humility-why-confidence-is-overrated/

I dont know vs I know

– Enjoy,

Shalini

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