Don’t Let The Language Barrier Keep You Home.

UFO Bridge, Bratislava

I was seated at an old wooden table, in one of the proverbial, European open, road-side cafes. The evening was now dark, chilly and breezy, with persistent, musical sounding rain. Equipped with only a light jacket, I was happy for this warm, sheltered space. My apartment was at least a thirty-minute walk across the windy Novy Most bridge, in the newer part of town.

With the rich, red Slovakian wine and the homely pasta plate before me, I had no complaints.  The smiling waitress had been kind enough to bring an English menu and a napkin that said, “Ladies, Rio loves you.” Back home, this old town restaurant’s slogan would have seemed discomfiting. Here, it felt like a thoughtful welcome for the solo woman traveler.

The fact that I didn’t know a single soul in this city, or for that matter, for hundreds of miles in all directions – was not disturbing, but strangely comforting. I wondered at the oddness of that thought.  I considered if spending the morning with a Segway tour guide meant he could be counted as an exception. Or if the non-English-speaking landlady who handed the keys to my apartment stay counted as an acquaintance.  I decided not. 

She had, after all, failed to introduce me to the resident poltergeists.  Only after they tripped my electric range and kitchen lights a couple of times in succession, did I figure out how to negotiate a peace treaty with them.  (They finally agreed to limit themselves to the small drying balcony while I stayed there.)  So no, the landlady didn’t count.  Her daughter, who had earlier pretended to be her mother, and corresponded with me before, and during the stay, over email and phone – now perhaps she could be counted as an acquaintance. But soon after I arrived at the local station, did I realise that she was in fact away, studying in the States. 

So it was true. Here I was, late on a stormy evening, alone in a city who’s souvenir t-shirt reads, “Where the F#$@ is Bratislava?”.  I could have laughed out loud.  But I restrained myself to a content smile. 

The stranger who happened to walk in at that point thought I was smiling at him and nodded back with a smile.  He sat across me, a couple of tables separating us. From the discussion over the menu, it became clear that he knew neither the local languages nor English. Through gestures, he managed to have food and wine come to his table. Other groups came in and went while we shared our solitary meals in quiet acknowledgment of our similar situations.

It seemed to be the flavour of the day.  Companionship with strangers who don’t speak your language. 

Most of the afternoon had been spent with an international group of mathematicians.  Their English speaking host had decided to take me into their fold, soon after we met on a cruise down the Danube river. Impressed with the fact that I was traveling alone, he wanted to know how I was managing despite the language barrier. Himself a local, who had returned after a stint in the States, he explained his interest in communication to me.  Given the complex history of the place, it seems between his wife and their parents, they shared a lineage of five different languages.  He said, “They say New York is a potpourri of different cultures, but they don’t know what’s been happening here in Bratislava, in every family!  I could relate to this, thinking of the myriad languages and cultures intermingling back in my hometown, Mumbai.

Devin Castle, Slovakia

We soon reached the geographically and politically significant site, Devin Castle.  It has witnessed many wars – something which is extremely difficult for the heart to comprehend. How do humans engage in such violence, and that too at a place so awe-inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful? No short answer there. As we had to return to Bratislava by the evening ferry, unfortunately, there would be no time to explore the extensive natural park around the castle grounds.

While there was some conversation with an Indonesian family on the boat, I explored the ruins largely on my own.  Without any formal agreement, one of the mathematicians accompanied me around. Besides a nod, we exchanged no other communication.  Distinguished, handsome and with sparkling, alert eyes, he seemed well respected amongst his peers.  He, and I, though had no scope for any verbal exchange and nor did we seem to feel the need for it.  Despite that, after several hours of comfortable silence and walk together, I left the ferry with the odd feeling that we had really met each other in a very meaningful manner. There was also an inexplicable sense of closure at the end of the day.  As though a long pending conversation and been completed.  Perhaps it was a karmic connection or a matter explained by modern day heart coherence findings. Whatever it was, the time together was memorable.

As I happily reminisced the satisfying day over my candle-lit wine and dinner, with the other solo diner similarly ruminating a few feet away, I thought this in itself was one wonderful, powerful benefit of solo travel:

To remember that it is possible to communicate with others without words. To find kinship with strangers and warm hospitality in unknown lands. To meet without an agenda, to befriend without reason and to part ways without regrets. 

How wonderful, these opportunities!

Back home, when I sometimes struggle to converse, either because of the superficiality of the content, or the seeming impossibility of finding the right words that will reach to another what we experience in our own individual bubble – I remember such days and feel reassured:

It’s okay to be quiet.
Silence can indeed be golden.
And completely adequate for bridging divides.

Playing The Game of Life

keep-calm-and-play-on-serene-reflection

Creating an oasis of inner peace can be hard work.  Actively interacting with a chaotic outer world often threatens to undo all that has been accomplished. Consequently, we may begin to minimize engagement with our environment. As a conscious, unafraid preference, this is unremarkable.

However, if it arises from a fear-based avoidance, sense of inability, and or unwillingness to face difficult situations or conversations, this option will provide us little relief or growth – because our perceived provocations are but our own projections. 

Whether we retreat to the Himalayas or remain here as men and women of the world, we will very likely encounter exactly the same demons.  After all, they live within us. (If you wonder about this, I suggest reading Tenzin Palmo’s experience as described in the book, “Cave In The Snow” by Vicki Mackenzie.)

Running away from the game of life is not the same as rising above all games.  Resisting something only perpetuates it. So a defensive retreat can leave us stuck with the very challenge we are unwilling to meet.

I recently saw a touching movie based on a true story.  ‘We are Marshall’ is about the rebuilding of Marshall University’s college football team following a plane crash that killed all 75 passengers (including the school’s 37-member team, coaches, and other community members).  The new coach, Jack Lengyel, obviously had an extremely difficult task on hand.  At one point this is what he says:

You see, Red, it doesn’t matter if we win or if we lose. It’s not even about how we play the game. What matters is that we play the game. That we take the field, that we suit up on Saturdays, and we keep this program alive.

It took close to 20 years before Marshall had a winning record.  But that was only possible because of the grit and dedication of those who ensured that despite all reservations, football continued to be played in that emotionally devastated university and town.

I found those lines memorable and thought-provoking. 

It was a reminder that while we may not have it all figured out, that while there are still layers to be unpeeled and wounds to be healed, there are also unimagined possibilities and new vistas, yet unknown, that can only be discovered by living through the tough matches.

These are interesting times of rapid change and we can either succumb to the overwhelm or use these challenges to accelerate our own transformation. Though we may occasionally lose our peace of mind, forget our learnings, fall back into mind-body or ‘favourite-story‘ identification (any of all that and more may happen) – playing the game may be exactly what is required of us right now.

Stretching our comfort zone has benefits for us as individuals and also provides us an opportunity to contribute to the collective: for by returning to the playing field with awareness, we also bring back and inform our environment with whatever little lightness, peace and love we have reclaimed thus far.

But for this, we need to find that elusive balance between contemplative retreat, and a mindful stepping out. Instead of trying to escape from the old paradigm, or conforming ourselves to it, we then proactively bring in a whole new set of playing rules: Guidelines that lead towards greater love, peace, harmony, wellbeing and co-existence.

So these days I remind myself that while taking time-outs, and refresher practises in remembering who we truly are continues to be appropriate and usually necessary – while here, how about simply showing up whole-heartedly and playing a better game?

16 Clearing Statements To Address The Self-Sabotage Of ‘Inevitability’

Tanushree Vaidya Photography

Do you find yourself restraining your enthusiasm and aspirations?  Are you half hearted in your efforts or commitments? Or does a voice at the back of your head constantly caution you to brace yourself against fear, disappointment or failure? Does it seem like you are going around in circles, playing the same record again and again? In all such situations, check to see if past experience has led you to believe that no matter what you try or do, the end result is going to be the sameyou are going to face the same ‘inevitable’ outcome.

There may be a variety of reasons why this perception may seem like a reasonable, wise or safe conclusion.  It may be obvious to us, or sound a subtle warning voice at the back of our head.  We may be able to trace its origins to a specific event, or simply sense that this has deep, ancient roots.

The point is that if this is the program running at the back of our mind, no matter what efforts we may make towards change – we are unknowingly inviting, and bracing ourselves for the same adverse outcome.  This internal conflict between the desire and attempt to change our experience, and an overriding, rigid sense of futility can be exhausting, frustrating and depressing.

Along the lines of the popular post, 9 Clearing Statements To Address the Fear of Uncertainty, here are some clearing statements to help free one of this particularly influential burden of buying into the idea of an ‘inevitability’.

These clearings come from substantial experience at drawing out subtle aspects that contribute to such fears.  Reading them in itself may bring more awareness and understanding to your own specific situation.  They have been framed along the lines of Access Clearing Tools and those familiar with Access Consciousness will know that you can run the Access Clearing Statement – “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds®” after each statement.   For a detailed explanation on the Clearing Statement, please click here.

Alternatively, simply read aloud and tap along all the EFT points as you are reading. You can download EFT in one page here if required.  For a more detailed understanding of EFT, you can get my book – Emotional Freedom Techniques.

Some readers may find it effective and comfortable to simply state ‘Release, Dissolve and Let Go‘ after each statement.  It is our intent and awareness that makes all the difference.

You may like to make an audio recording in your own voice and loop it for use with either Access Clearing, EFT or ‘Release, dissolve and let go’.  Some of the words may be unfamiliar, but let your experience speak for itself.  Run these clearings several times a day for about a week and let me know how it works for you!

First, identify a single specific ‘adverse inevitability’ you subscribe to(for example: will be misunderstood, will face rejection/breakup, business loss, poor academic results, non-improvement in health, inability to lose weight, etc…). Keeping this in mind, use the following:

  1. All the fear, anxiety, exhaustion and mind fog associated and triggered by believing in a fixed, adverse inevitability,  will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  2. All the conditioning, agreements, oaths, vows and promises that solidify, densify and make real this fixed, inevitable and adverse expectation, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  3. All the anticipatory gloom, doom, despair, and hopelessness that you experience consequent to the rigid belief in this so-called ‘adverse inevitability’, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  4. All the constriction, limitation, walling, barricading and restraint that you are self-imposing in the hopes of protecting yourself from this imagined inevitability, will you release, dissolve and let go now.
  5. All the ways in which you refuse to allow yourself to be fully, authentically you as a result of believing in this inevitability, will you release, dissolve and let go now.
  6. All the ways in which you block your awareness, filter your seeing of yourself, others and present circumstances, in ways that will perpetuate, support and validate your investment in this inevitability, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  7. All the events, circumstances, cellular memories, inherited emotions and beliefs, picked up from the ancestors, collective, entities, and astral entities, that invite, facilitate, demand, insist, ordain and perpetuate extrapolation or repetition of history will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  8. All the ways in which we individually and collectively assume, expect, desire and perpetuate stuckness, sameness, history and limitation, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  9. Every habit, limiting belief, cellular memory, future program and auric imprint that locks, restrains and binds the individual and collective in old, outdated paradigms of hopelessness, helplessness, impending doom, failure, betrayal, inevitable disappointment and lack of trust, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  10. All the ways in which we resonate, amplify, mirror and perpetuate grief, entrapment, bondage, helplessness, hopelessness and the certainty of disappointment, between DNA, energetic DNA and soul family members, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  11. What would it take for you to stop trying to prove or disprove this so-called inevitability? Anything that prevents that from showing up will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  12. What self-image are you holding, identifying and perpetuating that necessitates you make this anticipated inevitability real? What would it take for you to unzip, disentangle and no longer limit yourself to any such self-definition? Anything that prevents that from showing up will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please
  13. What are you trying to punish yourself for by believing and making real this inevitability?   What will it take for you to forgive yourself and let this go now? Anything that prevents that from happening will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  14. Anything and everything that leads you to believe that you are unworthy or undeserving of anything different or better than this, will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  15. What generative energy space and consciousness do you need to be that would allow you to experience a wholly new paradigm and a totally different outcome? Anything that prevents that from showing up will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.
  16. What would it be like to be aware, open and receptive to entirely new, better, more harmonious, loving and intelligent possibilities? Anything that prevents that from showing up will you uncreate, delete and destroy across all time, space and dimensions now please.

Photo Credit: Tanushree Vaidya

Poems: Heart Light

image

Below layers of anger
Feigned indifference,
Deeper, under bandages
That became thick walls,
Seemingly permanent skins

Remain grief, sorrow, hurt.
Wounds, some still bleeding.

But beyond that
Tremulously survives
Raw vulnerability
Rarely allowed, or seen

Not the fearful end of things:
Only a translucent cover,
Pure, sheer light
Successfully veiling.

Unwrap slowly
Layer after layer
Persistently, gently…

Until luminescence
At the heart
Of it all
Shines forth
From within

On Fleeing From Our Personal Monsters

Tanushree Vaidya Photography

There are two ways to argue with reality. 

One way is to wish that someone or something else were present instead of who or whatever is.

That’s the one we tend to consciously ruminate over. The one that fuels our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Drives us to positive thinking, visualizations and manifestation attempts.  Well used, it may also motivate, inspire and encourage dedicated actions, choices and behaviors that are aligned with our aspirations for our self and our world.

The second way is to deeply desire for someone or something to be absent from your life.
You want to make it go away.  It may be summarized and labeled as pain, hurt, suffering, conflict, or whatever else.  But you want to make this triggering ‘monster’ go away.  You try not to ponder over it, or even admit to it (as the fear of Law of Attraction has been drilled in enough now).  We try to bury it and pretend it does not exist.  But in the background it simmers and expands.  Becoming a magnet for every thought that reinforces a desperate need to escape the present experience.

The thing is that even if it goes away, we tend to replace our obsession of one ‘monster’ with thoughts of another.

The relief we think its departure will bring is usually anti-climatic and short-lived. Look back.  See if this is true.  Wasn’t there something that you felt you needed to be free of in the past that no longer haunts you today?  Most likely yes. Those exams are done with, that illness healed, the debt was paid off, that dysfunctional relationship transformed…  Or your relationship with the challenge (whatever it was) changed. Nothing lasts forever or stays stagnant.

Yet, here we are. Again feeling overwhelm, stuckness, helplessness…

Chanting prayers, strategizing, fighting, shutting our eyes and retreating into our cocoons. All in the hope that the current nightmare will end, the ‘monster’ will disappear from our world and we can breathe easy again.  Finally then, we will be able to get on with the life we truly want to live. Discover our personal version of ‘Shambala’.

Or so we tell ourselves.

Until we shift our focus from trying to manipulate the situation to finding a more stable, inner peace – outside events will eventually change, but our habitual response will remain the same.

Acceptance is shifting the place from which we operate. 

A common resistance to acceptance (ironical, yes?) arises from the misunderstanding that acceptance or non-argument implies remaining stuck in the same place.

To come from a place of inner coherence that remains untouched despite outer happenings – is very different from attempting to seek inner coherence by manipulating outside happenings.

If you would like to try this approach and inculcate a greater inclination to allowance, pick your current ‘monster challenge’ and play with the following questions for a few days.  You may or may not find specific answers to them.  But parking them in your awareness is likely to bring in a fresh energy, perspective and experience.

Should you have any insights after this practice, writing them down will help anchor them and put your newer responses into action.  Any blocks or contributing memories that these questions reveal can be addressed with awareness, EFT, Access Consciousness clearings or any other tool of your choice. (This blog has many related resource posts and you can use the search box or categories for a pin-pointed search.)

  • What if the same ease, joy and peace that you believe lies in the absence of this ‘monster challenge’ is available to you today? What would it take for you to be open to that possibility?
  • Which judgments, beliefs, and conclusions do you need to release about yourself so that you no longer feel the compulsion to reject the present experience?
  • Which judgments, beliefs, and conclusions do you need to release about this ‘monster’ so that you no longer feel the compulsion to reject the present experience?
  • What would it take for you to stop making this ‘inconvenience’ so significant?
  • What would you stop doing if you already felt an inner calm?
  • What would you start doing if you already felt an inner calm?
  • What prevents you from embracing those responses now?

May we all awaken from our dreams and nightmares, realizing that those monsters are no real threat to who we truly are!

Image: Tanushree Vaidya Photography

11 Crisp Reminders To Help With Difficult Situations

Sometimes the urgency and overwhelm of a situation can make us forget what seems obvious to us in our saner moments. Here is a short list to help retain a more measured perspective during such challenging times.

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1. Centre Yourself.

Disentangle from past experience, future projections and other matters currently on hand.  Become fully present.

2. Be Self Aware.

It takes a great deal of presence to not allow our prior experience, habits, beliefs and conclusions to distort what we observe and receive. Being watchful can help mitigate this influence and keep our vision more clear and real.

3. Listen Deeply.

Listen attentively, without allowing any distractions.  A few minutes of these are far more powerful than hours of talk in which our inner commentary rules the airwaves.

4. Observe Objectively.

Use ‘Skinny Descriptions’, i.e. describe matters as factually as is possible, neither adding nor taking away from whatever is apparent.
Be like the mirror reflecting an object without any judgements about it.

5. Streamline The Story.

Align facts and events by as simple and clear a narrative as is possible. Correct for any filters and biases one may be aware of. Avoid inclusion of drama, ulterior motive and assumptions. These are usually imaginary or projected.

6. Question Conclusions.

Question any conclusions that arise. Byron Katie’s inquiry, “Is it true?” and “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” are good checkpoints.

7. Look Deeper.

Ask yourself: “What am I not seeing here?” and “What else is relevant here?”.  Context can dramatically change our interpretation of things. 

8. Keep The Doors Open.

The Access Consciousness tool “What else is possible?” repeated a few times may help discover options hitherto unseen.

9. Pause Before Action.

Ask yourself: “Do I really need to respond this?
Before rushing into reply or action, pause to see if it is appropriate or simply a reflexive compulsion.

10. Respond Mindfully.

Slow down. Even a few seconds of this can be helpful in clearing mind-fog. Any subsequent action (or non-action) will be more clarified and efficient.

11. Let Go.

Do your best and leave the rest.  There are no regrets when one knows that one has done the very best that one possibly could at that point.

PS: If you feel these reminders would be useful in reducing one’s stress and harmonizing our interactions, please share them with others! 

Poems: Ocean Waves

deep ocean

Life has no neat finales
Though people may die or fall away
No situation or relationship magically
In a pleasant, or troubled place stagnates

Where there is only One
We see individual jigsaw pieces
That can lock together, fall apart,
Be lost, or broken too

Whereas what we are
Are varying wave forms
That may run together, rise
Crash, or dissolve from view

Never completely separate,
Rarely fully united…
Simply flowing, fluid states
Bearing witness
To a singular, fathomless ocean’s truth.