Being still amidst the storm

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I wish for everyone to have a tremendous amount of resilience because it’s truly a useful and handy quality to tuck into your psyche. It’s the kind of sure-mindedness that makes the wife tell her jittery husband, “We are wealthy, dear. One day, we’ll also have money.” It’s the kind of thinking that needs to seep into our collective consciousness — to be sure within ourselves even if we can’t always be sure about life. It is empowering and  resilient thinking. It’s a quiet steady current at the best of times and a quietly active stream in motion at the worst of times. That’s probably why it is best summoned by silent stillness.

 

Go still. Psychotherapy advises anybody who has received a pink slip, suffered enormous financial losses, been passed over for promotion or jilted by a lover to go utterly still. Don’t give in to panic, anger, sorrow… justbecome as still as the Buddha. This is where resilience works. Later, you may release the pressure of the pain from your mind by crying, shouting or punching a pillow, but meanwhile the stillness, the silence has helped resilience to quietly enter and permeate your spirit. Thus, your core remains sound even as you vent your feelings. And you don’t take any kind of reckless, self-harming step.

Often, after venting, there’s a shift downward to heap blame and rage on ourself. But no! You have to nip your negativity right that very instant. Because later we will tend to regret and say, “If only I’d…” The words “If only…” are despair-traps. Step nimbly away from them. As Ajahn Brahm says: “The past is ‘iniffable’. You can’t say ‘if’ about the past. You don’t know what could have happened. So, how can you say what you have done or not done is a mistake?”

It is wise and practical to remain in the present and, as the Master says, “Enter the dance of the situation.” Say “what’s the next step I can take?” Say it calmly and you don’t get trapped in a stormy, debilitating drama. When you are calm, you can be in the beauty of any situation, in the mystery, in the intrigue, in the ‘what next?’ Everything that’s happening is a process and we are part of that process — we stumble, rise, roll, rise … This happens until we learn that we have to stop putting so many negative labels on life and start flowing quietly with it. We take the steps required with a peaceful mind, with harmony inside.

 

Keep your nose above the blues. When airplanes cruising the skies run into turbulence, the pilots say, “Keep your nose in the blue.” It means, keep your nose aimed above the horizon and you won’t crash. It holds good for us too — we keep our spirits high, our sights trained above the blues. Due to our preoccupations, we did not have time earlier, now we’ve been gifted, blessed with loads of time — to rejuvenate, re-energise, get inspired. Fix healthy meals and become healthier. Exercise a bit and get fitter. Read great books, listen to inspiring talk and stand taller. And meditate every day — to imprint tranquility in us.

Self-care has a beautiful, reassuring, protective, resilient energy and aura. It is the sunshine that dissolves the shadows in you and you don’t feel it’s the end of the world. Since negativity sells, catastrophes and cruelties rule the headlines. That’s why I advise against reading or listening to the news. The fact to remember is that 95 per cent of the world population is still good-hearted, it’s the 5 per cent that grabs the negative headlines. Please see the vast area of light and not focus on the shadowy corner. With a clear mind, assess your financial resources and assets. You may have to make some changes. Believe me, they will brighten your present and augur well for the future because you’ll suddenly uncover possibilities you hadn’t been aware of earlier. More important: new energies surge and hidden insights emerge. This is the magic of resilience.

 

Win yourself back. The words of a rishi reach out in their splendid ringing tones and resonate when you’ve gone through a break-up: “Be the One that wins yourself back!” Magnificent! What does the One do? One holds the self together as the doubts and emotions come storming in. One reminds the self: “I am complete with or without another.” You actually surrender to your completeness when you hold the self together. You get a sense of who you truly are — a rock standing firm in a stormy sea. You allow yourself to understand that the only part in you that hurts is the ego. Once you recalibrate your understanding, you can explore what it would be like without the ex, get used to the situation and even entertain the idea of moving on. At such times, it’s heartening to have a few friends who are with you without being callous, indifferent or judgemental. When those who accept us completely lend us the quiet, supportive energy of their presence, we become stronger and are not crushed by anger, sadness, regret, helplessness or despair. It’s necessary to also keep a check on our wayward thoughts because they are the main culprits that drive us to despair and depression. When a negative thought arises, stem it by wondering, “There is something I’m supposed to learn from this experience. What am I supposed to learn?” It gives meaning, purpose to what you are going through and, because it is pain that is not in vain, it hurts less. More. It gives a lovely lift and lilt to your resilience.

A wonderful anecdote goes thus: When the Master was meditating on the river bank, a disciple placed two enormous pearls at his feet as a token of his respect. The Master opened his eyes and picked up one of the pearls so playfully that it slipped out of his hand and into the river. The horrified disciple plunged in and swam all day looking for it but couldn’t find it. Finally, wet and exhausted, he roused the Master from his meditation saying, “You saw where it fell. Show me the spot so I can get it back for you.” The Master picked up the other pearl, threw it into the river and said, “Right there!” and went back into his meditative state.

It’s a beautiful teaching. Each of us is a Master or disciple at different times. Pearls or people will drop out of our life. When we let go is when we come up for air. We emerge softer, humbler, simpler. As the Enlightened say, “Storms come not to disrupt your life, they come to clear your path.” Be still and as the mists of misery clear, you will see the path stretching shiningly, endlessly, promisingly ahead of you…

The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.

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