Lead an examined life


Let us decide, “I refuse to contribute anger and negativity to my environment. I commit myself to promoting love and health.” This is today’s necessity. A team that researched 36 sub-Saharan countries in the African continent says, violence and HIV incidences are linked. The data collected and analysed threw up a disquieting pattern: new HIV infections rise dramatically in the five years leading up to conflict and bloodshed in a country. Ergo, simmering discontent and resentment are lethal to the health of citizens.

 Allow awareness. To start with, desist adding to the existing volatile negativity via our thoughts, tone, speech, attitude or action. We cannot deny anymore that anger, grief, worry, fear and hatred weaken and sicken us. For sure, the good doctor can help us with medicines but only we can help ourselves with awareness. Being aware is like allowing the glorious golden rays of the sun to penetrate the ominous grey clouds of negativity. As the awareness grows and spreads, the sky of our personal horizon lights up, effacing our inner gloom.

 Healing beams. Then, we can recognise and live increasingly from these wonderful beams of healing knowledge: Contentment strengthens our liver, joy elasticises our lungs, tranquillity relaxes our stomach, even-mindedness gentles our brain, love nourishes our heart, desirelessness expands our intellect, positivity uplifts our spirit, creativity shores up our kidneys, humour balms our perception, laughter banishes our stress, smiles connect and spread our sense of belonging.

We experience all these healing benefits not by denigrating and trying to wipe out our differences but by respecting and celebrating them. This is harmony, this is health, oneness. And it follows that to bring health to our environment we must be organisms of health. To bring happiness to our surroundings, we must be conduits of happiness. To bring peace to our relationships, we must ourselves be great reservoirs of peace. And all this will happen when we deeply cognise that to disagree does not mean to be disagreeable; that the ghosts and glories of history need neither limit nor dim the shining prospects of the present and future. When we grow in this knowledge, wiser, newer worlds have to open up.

 Susan’s symphony. A wonderful woman is already showing the way. Fittingly, she is a teacher. A Muslim by faith, Susan Carland of Melbourne’s Monash University combines a lovely sense of rightness, humour and goodwill to create something useful, loving and special. Earlier when she received hate-tweets, she’d block, mute or ignore them. Until, one day, a line in the Quran — ‘driving off darkness with light’ — emitted a flash of wisdom and inspired her. “I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way,” she says.

The Australian teacher blazed a marvellous new trail. Each time she received a hate-tweet, she simply transformed its hate-spirit to a heal-spirit by donating one dollar to UNICEF. Interestingly, on October 22 last year, Susan’s donations touched $1,000. Her tweet that day read, “Nearly at $1,000 in donations. The needy children thank you, haters!”

Well, what can you say when faced with a loving, healing spirit? You can only bow your head to its grace. And emulate it to the best of your ability and capacity.

An examined life. Can we transform the hate-spirit to the heal-spirit? Oh yes, a thousand times, yes. How? By living an examined life. To know ­others requires a bit of intelligence, but to know oneself requires heaps of wisdom! Sit in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Fold your fingers inwards towards the palm, thumbs touching each other along their sides. This folded namaste pose — held by Reiki practitioners when they want to go inward for answers — ­symbolises the mind and body being together harmoniously. Settle your mind with three deep breaths. Now, ask yourself: “What kind of toxins am I putting out?” The question startles. It’s like “Hey! I’m the good guy here, remember?” Be firm about receiving an answer. In this receptive silence, you awaken to many truths. That’s good. Continue: “What kind of discussions am I having?” “What kind of reactions am I exhibiting?” “What kind of environment am I creating at home, the work-place, in my relationships?” You become aware of the toxins you bring into your body and mind, upsetting yourself and causing pain to your loved ones. And you start watching yourself — your thoughts, words, tone, behaviour. You modify, gentle down, even stay silent where earlier you castigated. It’s amazing how leading this examined life freshens the entire environment. Irritations vanish, fears dissolve, friction smoothens. Even during difficult moments, peace prevails. It’s important to end such sessions by sending good wishes and blessings to all. A garden flourishes when every flower in it blooms.

Circle of gladness. An attitude of great goodwill increases oxytocin — a hormone which lowers blood pressure and helps the heart to function sweetly. Bonding reverses depression, dispels stress and enhances emotional resilience. A kind act a day eases another’s life and energises the environment with optimism. My grandmother often said, “Pleasant words are honey to the soul, health to the bones and courage to the heart.” Old-timers knew instinctively that being well-meaning and giving is the only way to overcome our frailties and move inch by inch into a widening circle of radiant, healing gladness. We haven’t lost our way. Behind the curtain of the acts of terrorism and hostile takeovers, there still is a huge populace with good hearts who fill their days with good deeds. They greet everybody with a smile, express gratitude, apologise for any inconvenience, avoid doing things that trouble others, humbly await their turn in the queue, allow other cars to overtake theirs, listen with wholehearted attention, are courteous to their near ones…. Content in their sunshine, they keep the world going. Let’s be one of this multitude.

(The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life’)

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