My neighbours have been making a lot of noise this week. Quite literally, they are bringing down their house. In the bargain, the quietness of the street has become a faint memory.
Just as the same words mean different things to different people, depending upon our state of being, similar situations can provoke a different response in us at different times. The significance of this was not lost to me on my return home last week.
I had just spent many days in the serene, green and beautiful surroundings of the IOFC centre at Panchgani. Imagine the dramatic contrast I faced upon reaching back home. Billowing dust, heavy thuds and the frequent interjection of a power drill, all right outside my bedroom window. It would be difficult to encounter more of a stark contrast to the chirping of birds and the whispering of leaves I had until recently enjoyed.
My regular meditation and energy practises have made me favour quietness and over the years, I have grown sensitive to loud noise. The current situation seemed indeed a difficult challenge. It brought back troubling memories of my frustration with the civil work in my building many years ago.
I knew I had to make peace with the situation and that too very quickly. Otherwise I would find myself giving in to irritation and anger for the next several months. I had no desire to re-enact my past response to such a situation. Some reflection led me to the following insights:
- Here was an opportunity to accept what is present – right in the midst of everyday life. I often say that it is easier to be balanced in remote, green locations, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The real challenge lies in finding equanimity in the midst of our daily routine, in the heart of our cities while engaging with the multitude that surround us. In this situation, I had the perfect chance to strengthen my practise.
- I was clear that I did not wish to feel sorry, helpless and in short like a victim. So I reminded myself that while I had no control over the noise and the dust that was being generated next door – I could choose how I responded to it. Sitting myself down calmly, I breathed in the noise with full acceptance. And breathed out peace. For about twenty minutes, that was all that I did. I just took in all that seemed like chaos and destruction and breathed out calmness. At the end of twenty minutes, the sounds had ceased to bother me. Not only that, I had a beautiful insight.
- I saw the whole process in a completely different light. I looked upon the men unscrewing iron bars and removing doors and windows. And I marvelled at how well we recycle everything here. Not one piece or part that could be reused, would be wasted. That was evident. Further, while earlier I had felt an uneasy gloom at the destruction that was taking place – I now clearly felt the lightening of a load and the emergence of a fresh, vibrant structure. It was almost like I could now sense the new building that was waiting to come alive before our eyes. The cycle of destruction and creation was well underway and all was well.
The above may seem like poetic meanderings. But because they are real and true to me – I can assure you that it has meant my peace was quickly regained. It has been several days now. Somehow, I have grown stronger in my faith. I am no longer disturbed by the sounds beyond my closed windows. They seem like a steady reminder of change in the background.
And every evening, when the silence returns and I let the cool breeze into all the rooms, I give my thanks. For this reminder of the constancy of renewal and reinvention. For this experiential assurance that peace is possible. For realizing that the answer is within me.
Right here, and right now.