What Is The World Saying To You Right Now?


endless practiceHow are you being challenged beyond what is familiar? Where do you sense you are being led?

These are the questions from the book that I am reading currently  called “The Endless Practice – Becoming Who You Were Born To Be” by Mark Nepo.

With the siege in Sydney before Christmas, the sieges that happened over the past three days in France costing lives of innocent victims as well as the perpetrators, and now the latest news of Boko Haram massacring over 2000 people in north Nigeria, I cannot but help ponder on what is the world actually telling us right now?

That violence is normal way of life and we passively accept it? Seems to be so doesn’t it?

Unfortunately the ‘unwanted’ has become the ‘familiar’  and we are constantly challenged in our struggles to reject that unwanted familiarity of violence riddled world invading into our lounges and homes.

In order to reject the unwanted, we either polarize ourselves between good and bad and stand firmly on one side only or we run from it all with a fear that our involvement even in thoughts might affect our safety.

Whilst we want to live in a ring of safety, we are constantly pushed to expand our ring of fear.

What capacities can we develop to not succumb to that ring of fear, to actually contract that ring?

How can we create and expand a ring of safety for ourselves, our immediate and extended families, friends and loved ones?

How can we cast a net of love to all peoples of the world so the language of violence and acts of terrorism can actually reduce?

To cast a net of love we need to first understand what love actually is and what it looks like in action – don’t we not?

  • Is Love an uprising of joy from the folds of our hearts?
  • Is it tears welling up in our eyes when we appreciate beauty?
  • Is it the concerns that arise spontaneously about the well-being of those that are closely associated with us?
  • Is it a heart wrenching pain we experience watching the innocent suffer?
  • Is it a sense of duty (Dharma) that we have, to do certain things regardless of what we have to go through?

What is Love? What does it look like? How does it feel?

I understand and experience all the various situational values of love’s expression – Caring, Empathy, Compassion etc., but the big word itself – Love – I struggle to understand.  What I do know is that Love is beyond the accepted cultural norm of expression and that it is a word that has many faces and cannot be easily captured.

These questions and the burning desire to know led me to do another exercise from the book “Writing To Wake The Soul – Opening The Sacred Conversation Within” by Karen Hering in which she asks to list random objects in your immediate area and create associated thing of the words in the list. After doing that she asks to create metaphors for Love using the words listed.

I did that and the metaphors for love that came up from the list are as follows:

  • Love is soft, thick, layered textures of a Carpet that I like to lie down on
  • Love is a fluffy, soft, comfortable support of a Cushion under my head when I take a nap
  • Love is the discipline of a Clock moving forward
  • Love is a Painting that is colorful and geometric holding many themes and patterns at the same time.
  • Love is the thick long Curtain that filters good and bad light.
  • Love is the Laundry Basket that holds clean and dirty clothes without complaining
  • Love is the Coffee Table that silently witnesses the scattered  mess on it.

How do these metaphors serve us in understanding love better?  They are only showing one thing aren’t they not?

Love is understanding and accepting both sides,  – Good & Bad, Beauty & Ugly, Light & Dark – completely without judgment and Be a Witness. Period.

It is only when we can do that do we have the capacity to extend our ring of safety and contract our ring of fear.  Accepting both sides does not mean that we condone violence.  Accepting both sides means we remember the larger wholeness in which we all belong and in so doing, we recover our wholeness within. We cannot afford to be separated from our soul because then we will be separated from life.

So what do we do? How can we live from a place of understanding and hold everyone equally in our hearts?

As hard as it may be,

  • We need to try and accept everything happening in our lives as a blessing.
  • We need to down our fear riddled masks which keep us from facing the truth and meet life fully with a vulnerability that is so human and so imperfect.
  • We need to change our thinking from fear to love. Our fears only create more fearful events because we create everything first in our thoughts.

Mark Nepo says, “When the dangers of drowning in the troubles of living are near, when feeling separate from your soul and the fear of burning up is heating up, rub the place in your chest where you feel most human, most vulnerable, and you will be perfectly returned in time to a thoroughness that will present the next step.”

Let us embrace the world knowing that we cannot fully comprehend what is going on and why.  That enables us to live in the world with a tender, open and loving heart and mind which does not contribute to the chaos but instead creates a pristine lake – the shores of which can be a shelter for all of us.

Hope you will join me in that embrace…..

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

How To Avoid The Emotional Roller Coaster……


English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala
English: Roller coaster in Xetululu, Guatemala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you feel angry, upset, sad one minute and excited, happy and joyful the next?

Do you feel bored, hopeless one day and full of inspiration and hope the next?

I do…

We all do…ride on the emotional roller coaster and go round and round on a regular basis if not on a daily basis.  UPpppp we go only to come down and again rise upppppp and come downnnnnnnn.

Over and over, again and again, the thrill that we get of being on that roller coaster is what we call life even though it churns our insides out and almost spills.  Most of the time, we catch the spills before they spill, and yet other times we just let the spills out like a broken water hydrant.

We tell ourselves not to feel THAT way, we beg others NOT to feel THAT way, THAT way being – angry, sad, upset, frustrated, jealous, bored, anxious, envious, angry…..on and on it goes like I am here right now.

Can anyone tell us how to or how not to feel? Can we stop ourselves from feeling? I guess we will be 6 feet under, the day we stop feeling.

Feelings are the natural expressions of emotions.  We cannot stop having them.  No one can tell us how to feel one way or the other. So, why do we have such reactions to our feelings?

If we cannot stop having the feelings, what matters then is what we do with them – does it not?

Our feelings need not be given expression, they can just sit within us as we acknowledge and acept them, certainly other people should not be the targets of our feelings.

As we acknowledge our feelings without judgment, they dissipate.  Feelings persist stubbornly because we don’t acknowledge them with complete acceptance.  The moment I feel something like anger or jealousy, I tell myself that “I shouldn’t be like that”, or that “it is wrong to feel that way” or “it is not nice to think like that”.

Feelings are like children.  When we ask a child “not to do something”, that is the exact thing they attempt to do.  Same with feelings.  When we say “Don’t feel that way”, the intensity of the feeling increases or gets suppressed and pushed down, never acknowledged and never accepted.  When enough layers are built, there will be no room left, so they spill out, usually as attacks on somebody.  Once purged, we carry on until the next layers build.  We have never processed them properly and given them a rightful place.

Feelings are as natural as breathing.  We don’t say it is wrong to breathe heavily, laboriously or smoothly.  We accept our changing breathing patterns without questioning.  So why don’t we accept our feelings without questioning ‘why’ or putting a judgment on them?

If we accept our feelings without questioning, they disappear as fast as they arise.  When I am angry, saying “I am angry” is enough.  It doesn’t have to be “angry at..” or “angry because…”.

I always have a choice of how I act or react with my feelings.

Reaction is the unfortunate accepted norm of society.  In reaction there is blame and judgment.  In action there is acknowledgment, acceptance and compassion.  So there is nothing inherently wrong in feelings.  It is how we express them that causes conflict – conflict within ourselves and with others.

Feelings arise.  We accept the feeling that has risen with no judgment.  Solutions appear.

Creation happens from acceptance.  

Acceptance requires Self-Love.

Do you love yourself enough to acknowledge your rising feelings without judgment and guilt or ridicule…

Next time you are feeling whatever — angry, sad, upset, anxious – try just saying “I am (feeling word)” and accept it completely without naming and blaming the cause or the causer and see what happens… You will be surprised.

Would you like to try? I would love to hear the results. Share them here.

Until next week…

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

 

The One Statement That Will Avoid A Ton Of Pain…..


English: Illustration of the pain pathway in R...
(Illustration of the pain pathway in René Descartes’ traite de l’homme (Treatise of Man) 1664.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are surrounded by pain and suffering in this world, ours and others.  We cannot escape it.  From dis-ease to death and everything in between, suffering is a huge part of our lives.  Financial problems, relationship problems, health problems, deaths, accidents at a personal level; war, poverty, drought, famine, floods, earthquakes that cause pain and suffering at a larger scale, we are surrounded by it.  

In fact some would say that suffering IS life as the face of pleasures remain in distant future glowing in the darkness of suffering.  Some pain is more severe than the others, nevertheless, my pain always causes more suffering to me.  We get attached to our personal stories and want answers even as doubts and anxiety rage our minds.

However, there is ONE Statement when lived can help us navigate through pain and suffering more easily.  That statement does not alter the reality of any situation, but it helps in shifting my perception of the situation.

Want to know what that statement is?

“Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me…”

If we believe in God, rephrasing the sentence would read…

“Everything that is happening is God’s gift to me…..”

I think Life, God, Love are interchangeable terms,  Even when one does not believe in God, one does not negate Life or Love.

So, “Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me..”

What happens when we live in that thought and with that statement completely?

  • A calmness descends with that acceptance even as things around us get turbulent
  • We become objective therefore get clarity in our thinking.
  • We witness events whilst being part of the events
  • We are not in pain.
  • We become proactive.
  • We don’t get depressed and take a ride on an emotional roller coaster.
  • We become grounded with enhanced awareness that gives presence.
  • We are present in the Now.
  • Eventually, we live in equanimity regardless of what is happening.

Is it really possible to live with that thought?  

I have personally navigated through illness, accidents, financial problems, relationship problems etc., using that statement as my anchor.  So I can say, Yes, it is possible to live with that thought and achieve all of the above.  Generally we are wise in hindsight.  Hindsight reflections almost always point out that the seemingly worst thing that had happened in one’s life was actually a gift as the person has gained something from that experience.

I know it is hard to believe that, especially if the pain is due to the departure of a loved one – timely or untimely.  Major pain like that cannot be easily silenced with a simplistic sounding statement.  But most of the time what we put ourselves through and the resulting pain can be alleviated as we shift our perception.

When we accept everything as a gift, we are actually removing ourselves as the central part of an unfolding story.  When “I” am not the main character in a story, I can get detached and become a curious spectator, especially when I don’t know the ending of the story and not trying hard to steer it towards a particular ending I want.

Life takes turns and twists and the best outcome will surface regardless of we are acting in it absorbed or become spectators even whilst acting it out.  A tad of separation creates that distance and we can become objective witnesses.  That detaches us from pain and gives us the capacity to completely accept what is happening.

“Whatever is happening in my life is life’s gift to me…”

Try that line of thinking.  Make it a moment to moment reality and accept whatever is happening.  It will sure avoid a ton of pain.

As Sai Baba said, that statement is the clutch that shifts the gear of happiness and sorrow smoothly, because accepting everything that is happening as life/God’s gift is the true name of Surrender.

Do you agree?

Are you willing to try? Share your experiences.  Would love to know.

Until next week

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari

 

Are You Aware Of Your Breath?


Grotto in an iceberg, photographed during the ...

Deep, Shallow

In & Out

Expand, Contract

Gentle or Harsh

As it goes in giving life, breath is one common thing that all creatures living have regardless of species, gender, color, caste and creed.  Breath is indiscriminatory in nature although it manifests differently in each,  given their circumstance, situation and feelings in any given moment.  The fundamental necessity that distinguishes between life and death, an involuntary but completely taken granted for, until no more – A vital component which determines if I can move or not, if my existence is guaranteed or not – that vital component that absolutely determines and makes my mark on this planet – is so taken for granted.

I assure myself that because I can breathe now, I can in the next minute as well.  I act as if it is seamless and yet between each breath lies my life’s guarantee, between exhale and inhale can my story be finished.  Flared out lungs may not necessarily contract in and yet I act as though they have come with a promissory note.  Well they did.

The day I was born, my lungs had a time stamped on them, a ‘best before’ date written on them, a ‘use by date’ that only the hands that printed on them can see, a shelf life that is predetermined and yet can go off any minute.

Do I need to know the exact date to determine how I am to live today or is it enough for me to know that there is an expirty date that could be as soon as between next inhale and exhale or as late as a billion or trillion or countless exhales later? Countless in my mind yet a count has begun with my first exhale the day I was born.

So how am I to live?

Every breath in writes a memory only to be etched deeper with every breath out.  At the last breath halfway between exhaling a whole of eternity will pass.  The tiny space between the in and out is where the world is held as memories. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong, just life coming in and going out,  bringing with it stories that create memories.

A truth about our need to tell our story unfolding today in its struggles and triumphs is –  when we penetrate into the space between the two breaths, we accept that pain and pleasure are inseparable, we cannot have one without the other.  In that acceptance life flows.

In Out, Expand, Contract – we  need to focus only on expansion.  An expansion painted on the waves of life only guaranteed until the next gushing in tide which may or may not arrive.

So how do you treat your breath? Do you take it for granted or are you consciously aware of each in and out?

It is difficult to be in that constant awareness, but a few minutes spent in silence every couple of hours during the waking time, just becoming aware of the breath and being thankful for it, brings things back into perspective.

What practice can you establish to become aware of your breath and give thanks to its presence?

Do tell me……….

Until next time

With Love and Respect

Padma Ayyagari