Outer Travel And Inner Journeys

 

Musical_Pillars_at_Vittala_Complex-bicubicMusical Pillars at Vitthala Complex, Hampi, India.

In this last year, I have been fortunate to have visited several UNESCO World Heritage sites and other energetically powerful places. These trips are an integral part of my work as an earth sensitive (see Are You An Earth Sensitive And Why You Need to Know).  However, apart from the energy work involved, these journeys also enable rest and introspection.

Natural surroundings provide us with a deeply healing respite from the storms of life. Also, as we reconnect with our Self and our environment, the significance and meaning that we attach to our individual challenges undergo a sea-change.

Similarly, historical and heritage sites can also have an interesting effect on our perspectives. Each UNESCO and ASI site I have visited so far has been unique and most clearly deserving of our appreciation and preservation. The symbolism and what the makers attempted to convey highlight diverse human obsessions, from the personal ego of a ruler wanting to leave his mark, to the universal questions around the meaning of life. They indicate what was valued in the collective and was the prevalent culture at that point in time.

What is most striking is that they all remind us that great art and architecture demand immense dedication, skill, thought, unsung effort, co-operation and often, much time. The fruit of such undertakings impacts generations to come. Such projects are living testaments to the fact that man seeks to understand his role in the world; that for generations, people have attempted to do something meaningful with the time and breath gifted to them.

Whether or not we agree with the values(such as personal glorification, or idol worship) embodied here, these impressive, physical forms can easily prod us to to examine our own valuesto reassess our individual place in a far broader context, and to reprioritise our relationships with the divine, the planet, and all living beings.

How and why does travel to such sites deepen our self-inquiry?

Well, for one thing, what such structures highlight is that in other times, and in places yet untouched by the global standardisation of modern, urban life – the meaning and use of time, space and other resources can be remarkably different from what we are accustomed to.

Immediate gratification, quick results, individual credit, fame and rich returns(at least for the artisans), all these do not seem to have been prioritised as greatly as they commonly are today. In many cases, one would not even live long enough to have the satisfaction of completion and closure. (Gaudi’s ‘La Sagrada Familia’ at Barcelona is a more recent project that illustrates this. Under construction for over 132 years, it yet has a long way to go.) The focus seems to be more on continual dedication and excellence, rather than on reaping the fruits of labour.

Similarly, as objective viewers of a distant past, the disrespect, violence and destruction that we can cause in the name of our beliefs and allegiances also become clear. Seeing the consequences of the dramatic destruction of a rich city like Hampi (or the careless damage brought about thanks to the abuse/neglect by the victors at sites around the world) force us to face our own inner demons. These locations showcase the atrocities that we as humans may commit when we perceive a threat to our way of being.

As individuals, we are all capable of demonstrating similar levels of creativity and destruction. It is our awareness that determines which potential we draw forth. These places and their historical narrative naturally provoke questions such as:

  • Why are we doing what we are doing?
  • What are we doing with the time and talents given to us?
  • What would we rather be doing instead?
  • How well are we using our resources?
  • How are we impacting the world?
  • Are we leaving it a better place?
  • What do we need to stop doing?
  • What do we need to start doing now?
  • Are we in sync with our natural surroundings, our community, the cycles of life?

I could go on, but then, I am an introspective writer after all.

These days, popular travel tends to be ambitious, micromanaged and super-packed. The emphasis is frequently on quantity rather than quality, with the focus being on visiting the largest number of famous landmarks. Local flavour, ways of being and philosophies are often missed by us choosing to remain with our habits of food, language and people, even in foreign locales.

Such constraints on time, venues and local interaction cost us dearly: For too often, we return having done little more than having ‘checked-in’ at the different locations.

It is no ‘Secret’ that a conscious intent significantly influences what we notice and experience.

My invitation to you is to set out with the resolution to travel with awareness. That instead of being swept off-centre by the sensory overload, to decide to use the sights and impressions to draw out newer aspects of yourself. To open yourself to not just new sights, but new energies and experiences. To deliberately include free time in your schedule, so that when you feel called to linger in a place, you have the bandwidth to do so.

Allow yourself the luxury of contemplation, surfacing thoughts and emotions that you have been repressing or denying. Welcome the opportunities to sit in leisurely silence at sacred places, processing and evolving effortlessly. Let the meaningful questions take precedence for a change.

In my experience, such conscious travel leaves us with a far richer experience than otherwise.

External wanderings can help us discover and express newer parts of our self. I know I return changed by every trip. Perhaps this post will gently remind you to explore newer dimensions in your own travels as well.

Wishing you de-lightful and meaningful journeys!

2015-03-20 22.01.52

Stained Glass Windows at La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain.

5th Blog Anniversary – List of Select Posts

Mykonos lighthouse by Tanushree Vaidya

Today is the fifth anniversary of this blog, which I started writing on Sameer’s 6th death anniversary. In my first post, “Light House”, describing a mysterious happening after his passing, I wrote:

Death is an unarguable inevitability.  And there will  be questions and emotions when a loved one moves on.  However, those who stay behind – can celebrate the life lived.  Through greater love,  deeper understanding in their own lives.

In light of that start, today, I look back with satisfaction on the 147 posts thus far. Each one sharing a little bit of myself and what I have learned.  In the hope that it will be of some help to someone else.

And I dare say, the articles have lived up to this intent.  As a repository of resource articles, the blog has generated a great deal of soul-satisfying feedback from its small, but regular group of followers.  That makes all the hours of composition and writing worthwhile.

A heartfelt thanks to all those who read, experiment with the suggestions, like, share with friends, and write back with their feedback.  You motivate me to continue.

I shared a List of Select Posts last September, for the ease of bookmarking. Here are some additions from the current year, (based upon the response they received) in no particular order:

Looking forward to our continuing interaction!
Good wishes to all and thank you.

Photo Credit: Tanushree Vaidya Photography

Without Apology

Giving and receiving

Someone dear to me is accustomed to saying ‘Haq banta hai’ (I have the right), whenever he requests anything that could be considered an imposition. Even though I often suffered from the story of ‘I am often and easily taken advantage of’ in the past, his saying this never triggered any resistance in me. However, I understood why this was so only recently.

The shoe was on the other foot.  I said something similar to another friend, confessing how I had done something on the assumption that he would back me on it.  I felt neither guilt nor apology, and there was no complaint from him either.  He smilingly said that us taking each other for granted is a given.

So what is the difference between my old ‘story’ and these situations? Having given my old habits due attention, I see that the old story was just one more way for the personality to solidify and make separation real. When I succumb to this particular story, I am operating from the space of being an individual, dealing with another person. This necessitates a constant check and balance system to ensure that both parties feel respected and looked out for. In the latter case, one is resting in oneness and flow is taking care of things effortlessly.

To think of ‘yourself’ alone, or to ‘only look out for others’, are both rooted in an error in perception. What results is a polarised manipulation of resources(including intangibles such as care, attention and so forth), imbalanced by the strenuous attempt to serve a particular individual or group. Consequently, someone is left with suffering, resentment, guilt and or pain, as self-centredness is at the cost of others and sacrifice is at the cost of our self.

Correct perception is in seeing how we all are an interwoven One. Hence, in the larger context, when being and acting from oneness, any improvement in well-being (or alleviation of suffering) is unfailingly beneficial to all concerned: There may be different manifestations in form, but in essence there is only One.

In Oneness is a remembrance of universal, omnipresent divinity. As this eliminates all feelings of lack and inadequacy, what emerges is a natural flow of goodness that brings balance and harmony in its wake.  For now, ‘the cup’ truly ‘runneth over’.   Even if the ‘other’ behaves in a disturbing way, our own response comes from a deeper wisdom and compassion. Our choices and behaviour are no longer ruled by fear based negotiations, but become an expression of love and wholeness.

Just as we use Newtonian Laws at one level of perception and experience in physics, and understand that concurrently, the Laws of Quantum Physics are also at play at a different level, there are different guidelines for our behaviour, depending upon whether we are operating from ego or oneness. Politeness, thoughtfulness, negotiation and protocol all have their appropriate place and bypassing these has its own consequences when we are located in separation.  So it is inadvisable to pretend to oneness and use that as an excuse for disrespectful choices.

However, when we are genuinely centred in oneness, our interactions take on an unremarkable ordinariness.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience this kind of love, ease and simplicity in our lives more consistently?

May this thought provoking piece from Chuang Tzu serve as a reminder to such grace.

Apologies
by Chuang Tzu

If a man steps on a stranger’s foot
In the marketplace,
He makes a polite apology
And offers an explanation:
“This place is so crowded.”

If an elder brother
Steps on his younger brother’s foot
He says, “Sorry.”
And that is that.

If a parent steps on his child’s foot
Nothing is said at all.

The greatest politeness
Is free from all formality.
Perfect conduct is free of concern.
Perfect wisdom is unplanned.
Perfect love is without demonstrations.
Perfect sincerity offers no guarantee.

(Photo Source: Facebook Gratitude)

Wait No More

boat by tanushree vaidya

The roots of what troubles us are often deeply hidden from our conscious understanding.  These may sometimes be ancient, including emotions and beliefs that we have inherited from our ancestors or the collective. I discussed this in more detail at Individual Clearings and Collective Consciousness.

Awareness of what is really going on within us and our intent to heal are the two critical components in restoring a sense of well-being.  The beauty of poetry is that it allows us to touch and draw out much of what can be difficult to articulate in words. Pure intellectual analysis or seeking of specifics may sometimes prove too tiresome. Whereas poetry can provide a more abstract but yet effective route to greater self awareness.  I frequently suggest using my poems as EFT tapping scripts as this has the dual advantage of surfacing the challenge more completely while concurrently harmonizing the energies.

The following is an example of how not only our own experiences, but also a thread of collective imprinting may be affecting us as individuals, and how poetry can help us to heal.

One night, I wrote this poem out of the blues. There was no specific trigger or inspiration for me to write it.  Once it was ready, I felt like sharing it with another couple of lady friends.  One of them happens to be an alternative healing practitioner.  The next morning, as she listened to her new client describing her life, she felt called to read this poem to her.  The woman heard it and burst into cathartic tears.  She felt it resonated deeply with her own string of heartbreaks.  Subsequently, the suggested clearing(below) was also shared with her and she left the session feeling heard, understood and much lighter.  After I heard of this I shared it with a few other women and received similar responses.  It may not be universally applicable, but as I feel it may strike a chord for a lot of women, sharing the poem below.

The suggestion is to read it slowly and allow any emotion that wells up to show up.  You can (a) use EFT, (b) simply breathe and release it all with your intention to do so, or use the (c) clearing process given below the poem to help in this. If you feel the need, repeat your chosen way a few times, until ‘waiting‘ no longer carries any sticky, emotional charge for you.

If you find any of this helpful, please share it with other women.
May we all be released from our past and future obsessions, finding peace in the present.

He turned and left.
A little bit of her died
For the sailor
Never returned as promised
By the changing tide.

For right since the days
Of the hunter setting out for food
And the priest marching
To an inner guide

Right from the days when kings ruled
To the corporate whiz today
Eternally on board a flight

The woman has been left waiting
Praying, doubting, not only his return
But his will; her goodness, her worth
All this she has to decide…

For loneliness and or abandonment
Has a strange way
Of making the strongest one question
Whether they were seen. recognized.

If who they are is remembered
Valued and celebrated
Even if it be in the quiet.

These same scars
Of our grandmothers and aunts
Inscribed upon our souls
Tears, heart break, grief and despair
All the consequences of
The tremulous hope

The aging, the waning,
The softening, the hardening,
The breaking apart and coming together again

All the wounds of being the one
Society dictated must wait:
She waits till the end

The fear of loss, of separation
Seemingly a honour badge
To be emblazoned on her chest
For the man the adventures had:

Allowed to seek out his quest
Whether it be for himself or her
His parents, brothers or kids
Whether it be for money or fame
Conquering, God or justice
Whether it be his whim or urge,
His souls purpose
Or a demand from the clan
Whether it be for reasons selfish
Or beyond the understanding of mortal man

By and large
In every age
The woman holds the vigil

Awaiting the return
Of her life, love and faith
For all of them have been gambled

No half-hearted attempts for her
No playing safe
Nothing withheld, nothing denied
She poured it all away

Without life’s grace and blessings
These wounds, this pain.
These sorry conclusions
Of guilt, unworthiness and shame:

On her genes
In her very bones
Etched remain

Until she finally wakes up
From this collective dream
And her Self reclaims.

Suggested Clearing Process

1. Sit upright with the spine straight.

2. Run your attention quickly up the center of your spine and read each of the following with every such ‘sweep’:

  • Align to wholeness now.
  • All the events, circumstances, significant events, conditioning, inherited emotions traumas, dramas, cellular memories, auric imprints and future programs that contribute to, solidify, densify and make real the archetype of the waiting or abandoned woman, release, dissolve and let go from the origins and across all time space dimensions now.
  • Disentangle from this archetype morphic field now.
  • Disentangle all residues and fixed points of views around this now.
  • Align to your own energies now
  • Repair energy field now
  • Align to wholeness now.

3.  Stay still for a few minutes, silently noticing the shift in your mind, body and energies.

Photo Credit:  Tanushree Vaidya (all rights reserved)

Material Wealth, Abundance And Spirituality

May your cup runneth over
Abundance, like age, is a state of mind.  Too often, it is thought to be limited to the digits describing one’s material wealth.
  While in fact it is the space from which one operates. Abundance here refers to the experience of ease and flow in all aspects of one’s life.  It is being anchored in a sense of wholeness and completion, a sufficiency that enables graceful flow, harmony and generosity. Where One is not inhibited by fears of scarcity. Trust in Self and life is effortless.

All of this is determined by one singular aspect – the degree to which one is in touch with one’s true nature.  The ‘I’ that one refers to, and whose ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ keep it locked in a sense of lack and insufficiency(whether it be of love, time, well-being or money), is in itself a false construct.  It is the misled aspect that has identified itself with a particular body-mind.  This, despite experiencing that like the mind, our body too is noticeably changeable.  Our embodiment in the womb, as infants, adults and then as senior citizens is far from the same.  Even as we observe these changes, we continually, simultaneously re-calibrate our idea of ‘self’ and thereby continue to uphold the mistaken belief that there is a ‘constant’ or ‘consistent’ person here.

As a corollary to this idea of an individual and its sense of separation, we subscribe and contribute to a paradigm founded on transience, insecurity, competition, and nothing and no-one being ‘good enough’ (including our self). 

To fully emerge from these self-imposed limiting beliefs, we need a radical change in understanding. Initially, we tend to work towards improving our idea of this individual through ‘self-development’.  This provides temporary relief and we begin to feel we are winning. But remember that this game itself operates by the rules of changeability and insufficiency.  Hence, the degree of suffering may change, but it continues to feel real. To rise above this game, something different is required.

More often later than earlier, we find ourselves questioning our very self-definition.  We then notice that the only constant, consistent unchanging One is in fact our awareness of this experience.  Relaxing our attention from a limited mind-body identification as ‘self’, to this universal, omnipresent, singular awareness changes everything.

Instead of a world defined by separation and its constant struggle for safety, adequacy and well-being, One now experiences the world from a space of not just sufficiency, but easeful plenitude.  Instead of an isolated, solitary ‘me’ against the world, One operates from the knowing that being Consciousness itself, there is nothing One can possibly lack.  The perception thus shifts from lack and seeking – to abundance and expression of what already Is.

This transformation does not happen instantaneously for most of us.  Theoretically, it can be an instantaneous shift, but in practice, there is usually a gradual unpeeling of layers – involving a systematic unlearning and release of our conditioning, beliefs, habits and cellular memories.  With every inquiry and release, a further deepening of peace, ease and flow emerges.  The one question that can clarify our path at this point is,

Are you seeking self-development or Self Realization?

Remember that self-development looks to improve upon the idea and experience of the individuated, separate self that we have thus far identified with.  It is the seeking of mastery in the illusion, and not its transcendence.

Self-Realization, on the other hand, is the seeing through the illusion of this separate self.  As Adyashanti eloquently says, “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

The first choice, effectively, is looking for a ‘better’ dream.   But in the world of duality, health-disease, success-failure, poverty-wealth, codependency-loneliness and so forth – all exist in pairs. One cannot eliminate a single side of the coin. As ACIM clearly reminds, “You cannot dream some dreams and wake from some, for you are either sleeping or awake. And dreaming goes with only one of these. The dreams you think you like would hold you back as much as those in which the fear is seen. For every dream is but a dream of fear, no matter what the form it seems to take.

The second choice goes beyond merely manipulating levels of suffering or happiness, to the classical Advaita inquiry, Who Am I?  As a side benefit of this, One tends to have a more easeful and joyful perception of life. Because whatever happens, it is seen to be a dream that cannot define or determine who you really are.  How agitated would you be if the character you were playing in a drama underwent challenges, victories and defeats?  As an Italian proverb says, “At the end of the game, the pawn and the King go back in the same box.

Much of today’s popular spiritual speak often blurs the critical distinction between these objectives.  Added to this is the describing of material wealth as abundance and its thus sanctioned ‘holy’ pursuit.  The result is any number of programs and teachings attempting to meet the insecure needs of our misled aspects (and strengthening them) while deliberately or erroneously presenting these to be means of Self Realization.

Yes, money in itself is not evil. But to substitute the judgments previously imposed on the co-existence of material comfort and spirituality with a focused emphasis on material attainment is simply the perpetuation of a different dream.

My own approach to ‘spirituality’ has been grounded in my experience.  Being honest about where I am has allowed me to accept and adopt whatever practices were suitable for that point in time.  For example, when my husband lay unconscious in the ICU (and all our hopes and savings had run out) it was the least abundant I had felt it in my life.  I walked into the prayer room at the hospital and prayed, “You got me to this. You will get me through it.”  The next morning, out of the blues, a friend of mine came and gave me a copy of John Randolph Price’s “The Abundance Book”.  The Abundance Principals described therein are quite complementary to what I write here.  But it was true that money seemed a life or death requirement at that point.  I did the ’40 Day Prosperity Program’ described in it to honor my friend’s thoughtfulness. Even in the midst of what felt like a crisis, it completely shifted my perception of money and also transformed the situation. While I may have had many other layers and areas to work on, I have never worried about money since I did that exercise. It comes and goes smoothly enough.  In case you were wondering – that was 15 years back. And most of the work I have done since is for free.

This post intends to help clarify any confusion that may be a consequence of simultaneously seeking diverse objectives. The superficial understanding, confusion and guilt caused by chasing all kinds of conflicting material offered under the universal umbrella of “spirituality” today can lead to feelings of self-judgment, stuckness, guilt and even depression.  Deeply examining where you are and what choice you would like to make may release a lot of background stress. It could also help you move forward without procrastination or guilt.  If nothing else, I hope this piece raises some useful questions for the reader to introspect on.

 

Image Source: Pinterest

 

Are You Being Supportive Or Intrusive?

lions rainforest site

In playing the role of a parent, a caregiver, a supportive friend, a healer, a mentor and the like, one of the most delicate balances to achieve is that between ‘being’ and ‘doing’.  The meaning of these oft used spiritual phrases are likely best understood through personal experience.

Theory cannot restrain the empathy or impulse to reach out actively to the ones we care for.  Nor can we be blind or deaf to the sometimes stated and at other times silent cries for help.  The teachings do not draw clear boundaries demarcating, “Here, it is best you step in.  Here, it is best you wait it out.

Byron Katie’s sound advice to “Mind your own business” will make complete sense at times. And at other times, the Dalai Lama’s words, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.” will make one wonder if not ‘doing’ anything is misguided, or erroneous in some way.

I, myself have struggled with which place to operate from often enough.  I described my swing from ‘Empathy’ to ‘Detachment’, before coming to a more balanced rest at ‘Compassionate Understanding & Non-Attachment’ in my post, “Breathe in Pain, Breathe out Joy”.

But over the years, I have found that the response arising from this understanding can yet take various forms.  There are times when simply being available as a safe, holding space is appropriate and at other times, being straight-forward, as clear and impassive a mirror as one can – is the healthiest response.  There are times intervention is the requirement, for the person may be too emotionally or physically hurt to pick themselves up.  At yet other times, we must sit with the pain of watching loved ones falter  their own way through the falls that teach them how to rise and move on.

This post was prompted by a friend sharing a touching video (see below) with me.  It shows a newly born foal attempting to stand up for the first time.  It reminded me of a similar scene I had witnessed at a stud farm many years ago.  When I reached the stables, the foal was barely five hours old. An awkward, tottering delight, the foal stumbled around as its mother stood by with a fond, watchful eye.

To say I was awestruck would be an understatement.  The foal’s tenacity, determination and also dazed sense of wonder at this whole new world was tangible.  The mother’s pride, concern, patience and overwhelming love was palpable.  I was reeling at the thought of how quickly this animal had to learn to stand on its own feet and how intense this process of learning and caring was.

I could not help but compare this with my own protective watchfulness over my nephew.  (He was only a couple of years old at that time, and had been in my care much of the duration.)  I wondered if I would ever be able to stand back and let him get his own bruises and knocks. How does one ever learn that?

Well, over the years, life teaches us many things.  I found that while it may have taken a couple of decades, I am able to be centered far more often now.  With those closest to me, it is the most difficult.  There is still the occasional temptation to jump right in and urge them to move in a way that I believe would be best.  But I know that such entanglement is not healthy, as at such times I have disconnected from Source.  My identification with a role and my perception of its duties and responsibilities actually interferes with allowing inspiration.  The way to return to flow is by revisiting what I have learned so far:

  • Learning to be comfortable with pain and uncertainty: The more I am at ease with these, the less of the ego-centric, fear- based compulsions to ‘fix things’, prod myself or others.
  • Learning to let go of the need for fixed outcomes: I remind myself that what I imagine as the best outcome may not necessarily be so.  There is much that I do not know.  Whatever happens, eventually turns out for the best.
  • Letting go of the need to play savior: Many of us tend to buy into the savior complex in our early days.  When you find tools and processes that have demonstrated change, you become eager to spare others the pain that you have known.  I remind myself that no matter how close they may be to me – everyone has to lead their own life.  At their own pace.

No amount of the most intelligent, analytical, or disciplined ‘doership’ can substitute for life’s innate wisdom and happening.  Much like the mother horse instinctively knowing when she should nudge her ward, and when she should be available non-intrusively in the background, we too can find the space of being – where all doing arises optimally.

The above are only broad brush strokes of layered subjects.  The critical point being: the more I get myself out of the way, the more empty, present and aware that I become – the more spontaneously and easily – an appropriate response arises.

Then there is no longer any intellectual quandary between being and doing – in its stead is a simple, clear knowing and it’s natural, effortless expression.

PS:  My apologies to those who continue to be at the receiving end of my remaining ‘doership’ habit 🙂

 

Image Source:  The Rainforest Site FB Page

A Prayer To Restore Faith

light and dark trees

I channeled this for someone very dear to me some days back. I shared it on FB earlier and the response there prompted me to record it here for easy and frequent retrieval.

For all the times I pretended to trust god, but I didn’t,
For all the ways in which I kidded myself
For all the ways in which I secretly tried to control
Everyone and everything
Never believing there was divinity at play
All the reassurance that I gave myself to trust and believe
While never feeling the truth of it in any way
For all the events and circumstances that habituated me
To feel let down
To expect to be abandoned, betrayed
To never have anyone to count on other than myself
To never find support, guidance, help or solace,

I pray.

I pray for forgiveness, my own;
From the universal Source,
And anyone else I may have blamed…
I pray that all the deep rooted patterns and emotions
Of helplessness, hopelessness,
Isolation, despair and pain
In every part of my being
across all space, dimensions and time
Be released, eliminated, erased.

I pray to have the awareness,
The lived acknowledgment and understanding,
That can only come from a whole and healed heart
One which has seen the falsehood of a wound,
Relieved of pain that an illusion caused

For every time I have thought myself alone,
Limited, out of my depths,
Pushed into free fall –
There was a wind beneath my wings,
A branch to reach out to,
A soft landing at the end of it all.

It always seems dark inside the tunnel
And though we may have to travel blindly
Stumble, stagger through terrain unknown and new
Know that light can be blinding too
And once these critical steps
Are maneuvered as best as one can
All the while have full, genuine faith

For once our eyes adjust
To the brightness and lightness of all things
We see….truly see again.