In Celebration, in Contemplation

October has been the month of festivities here, from where I am writing right now. I have been caught up in frenzied action, not quite sure how much of it was actually required for my being. I planned to not take leave during the festivities and only availed public holidays to enjoy my time with friends and family. Yet, my plate is brimeth over! There were festivals, family time, your own personal time, yoga classes, walking circuits, pending work (argh!), travel plans, teaching plans, and then there are things that get added on a daily basis.

My plate is full. My plate is actually spilling over. Wait, it’s all over, all messed up!

Sometimes, I tell myself ‘just go with the flow and it will balance it out’. Sometimes, while reflecting before my bedtime I tell myself ‘may be its better to prioritize and not to add more things on the list’. Yet, I am not quite sure what should be the ‘right’ modus operandi.

I like to be normal and NOT work like a robot with an instruction guide. I want to feel, I want to enjoy, I want to breathe easy. Yes, I want to go with the flow and not stress about things in life. If things are to happen they will happen with whatever little work I am doing. I do not want to over-work and end up being a burn out. I am being very aware about my threshold, my own ‘sweet’ limits. And I want to work within that being my normal self. My bottom line is very simple – whatever I get to do I should be able to do it mindfully, I should be able to engage myself, be present and feel happy about that engagement. In life, you do not need to do more, often we make this mistake of running like a horse and end up being nowhere. While we are at it, it feels we are doing great, there’s certain trill in ‘running’ but often we forget there is a certain depth and joy in ‘walking’, in slowing down, in reflecting and being present. It’s an illusion and often we don’t want to see through it. But the moment we get aware and see through the maze or the haze, there is that bewitching smile on your face realizing what a fool we are making out of us. And sitting in the garden it’s such a joy to watch that flower bloom in front of your eyes 🙂

Wait, I am not at all saying not to work and just to sit still and laugh at the world around you! No! I am just saying, it becomes a totally different ball game if we reflect a bit and see through our actions and that vicious circle we often don’t wish to break and remain in that ‘comfort zone’.

These days, I often try to see what all I need to do in life. I mean, there are things I am responsible for, there are things I cannot postpone, there are stuffs I love to do, there are activities that bring me immense joy, and then there are stuff I need not to do. End of the day, you can only do some and not do everything! End of the day, you can only do stuff to make yourself happy and not please everyone. Often we forget that and get into that rut of feeling miserable, being unhappy and constantly getting entangled with stuff not necessary.

Do I make sense?

I was very overwhelmed this weekend, trying to navigate through different things. I could see my proverbial ‘plate’ being overloaded and I was ‘brimming over’ as well. This evening, I sat still and tried to see through things so that I don’t blame it on the hormones or the current situation or the frustration due to delay in getting that visa, or that certain someone ignored me or that friend did not visit me during Diwali. To ride over all these waves and counter waves, I tried to do Vipassna and meditate a bit. Though I was not able to sit through long but it helped me calm down, helped me see through my actions, balancing my expectations and not ‘run’ through making judgements and decisions. It helped me sorting out topics for group work I will discuss tomorrow in the class. I ended up writing this piece to wipe clear my thoughts before I sleep tonight so that there can be a clear beginning tomorrow morning!

However much you know, however much you are aware, end of it you are just a human being, and no one is perfect. We ‘do’ things what we would not want to do at the first place. We ‘think’ things which we would not like to think in the first place. We ‘feel’ emotions which we would not like harbour in us. But such contemplations make us ‘see’ through things and help correct our course of actions and break that chain of thoughts. Such reflective moments work like cleansers and help us with clear vision, however momentary that may be!

End of the day, you can only choose to be honest with yourself and do what you feel right! Let the joy be with you always! Loads of Metta and Love to everyone :-)

Learning from aditthana

Every Vipassana meditator has a different technique to enduring aditthana. Also in life everyone has different techniques to being able to endure difficult situations, where they feel they might explode. This short piece invites you to consider the sitting of aditthana, a key requisite of sitting a 10 day course, and what insight it can give to the individual meditator.

“A good friend told me a story about a dedicated student of Vipassana, like my friend he had diligently maintained a daily practice and sat and served on courses for over 10 years. Being able to sit without opening his eyes, nor moving his arms or legs for the duration of the multiple group sittings, although never easy, was one part of the course this long term meditator was always able to adhere to. But when he sat his last course, something changed, and what he had become accustomed to being able to do, he could not. It caused him great agitation. He spoke to the AT about this who advised him to keep a balanced mind, to observe his reality as it is, not how he wants it to be. He tried, but could not do what he had been able to do anymore.Rather than being equanimous and compassionate to himself, he was not able to stay the duration of the course and left.”

“I was told this story as a soothing balm, after sharing my frustration of sitting my fifth course and still not being able to sit without moving during the group sits. Despite five years of regular practice, the sitting of aditthana still reduces me to a child unable to bear the physical discomfort prompted by not being able to move for a whole hour, and the mental reactions subsequent to it. After a course I always spend time reflecting on what I think I learnt and how it may apply to my day-to-day life. Thinking about my aversion to aditthana and what insight it may offer me, I have been reflecting on my past, particularly over difficult episodes where I have reacted in a negative way. It is possible to see many of the episodes that come to mind being due to my inability to step out of my comfort zone, or remain in a difficult, uncomfortable place. Maybe my inability to sitting aditthana relates to this. Could this be the one of the missing pieces in my jigsaw?”

Can you see a parallel between your ability to maintain aditthana and what you have been able to overcome or not, in your day to day life?

Increasing Presence deliberatly, outside of Meditation

I came across Ivan Campuzano recently, a blogger who shares perceptions based on personal experience, and the integrated teachings of: J. Krishnamurti, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Paramahansa Yogananda, Samael Aun Weor, and A. H. Almaas. He reminded me of how I used to attempt self-observation before I found Dhamma.

As a Gnostic student, I attempted to willfully divide my awareness between (b) external perceptions (a) internal perceptions, not only sensations, emotions and feelings, but also thoughts, and finally (c) to be aware of awareness itself.

Image borrowed from: http://ivancampuzano.com/how-to-really-pay-attention-learning-to-divide-your-attention/

My Gnostic teachers explained that this practice should be done constantly throughout the day. Obviously, this was far too difficult for me back then, it required a lot of conscious effort and it felt awkward to be witnessing myself while conversing with people or performing a difficult task. I would often stop practicing for fear that I couldn’t pay enough attention to something if I was simultaneously remembering myself. When I discovered Vipassana, I noticed that my self-awareness increased as a by-product, so I gave up the arduous and constant task of deliberate self-observation.

However, I’ve recently committed myself to a few intense weeks of solitary computer work, and found that though I meditate 1-2 hours per day, I’m still quite easily distracted. My mind wanders and I follow. So I decided to revisit self-observation. Watching myself sense, think, feel, and work I noticing that with such vigilant intent my mind didn’t have a chance to wander or even get bored. No Yawning, no need to make priority lists because I remembered everything and didn’t get confused. Time seemed to slow down, and I was much more likely to notice where I could put in the extra effort to streamline my work-flow.

Though this is still a challenge, Vipassana has clearly given me and edge; self-observation came much easier than it did before. Instead of feeling distracted by relentlessly resetting focus, I felt empowered by constantly nipping distractions. I can also see how in the cases of sensual pleasure, self-awareness could also serve to ground me, but I’m still a little unsure about using it in highly rational interpersonal situations. For example, in a class discussion, if a lot of abstract thinking is required to respond quickly, would self-witnessing benefit me or just slow me down? I guess I will just have to watch and see.