It never ceases to amaze how affluence for most of us often comes coupled with a drop in the ability as well as the opportunity to enjoy the endowments of such affluence.
In letting ourselves be goaded by the daily grind of life's ambitions and schedules, we seldom manage to make time for life itself and realise this only when it is too late. It is one thing to blame the chaos around us for this, and quite another to shake ourselves into sighting and appreciating the beauty amidst this chaos.
The smothering monotony of our existence is, indeed, a result of our inability to essay a balance in life. Most of us are prejudiced by the thought that this is easier said than done. Yes, making time for life does call for a little planning, which, on the face of it, may look like an add-on to the endless list of chores we wend our way through. But, it is not entirely impossible.
Where do we make a beginning? First and foremost, we must stop saying that we are just "too busy." For long, we have used this as a specious excuse to justify our inability to do even those things that we sincerely acknowledge, deep down inside, as being most important for us.
Vedanta holds that human birth is very rare and precious, and should not be wasted. Even if we initiate some minor changes in moments of clarity, we will be surprised by the incalculable positive influence these changes wield on our lives. All that one needs to do is give the ensuing sense of wellbeing a chance to spill over into our everyday lives, to help us recognise and demonstrate through our actions that life is a gift and that our waking hours are not meant to be squandered.
It is strange that something as straightforward as looking within oneself today seems tantamount to moving mountains. Life is about the choices we make, and imbalance in our lives is only a result of some bad ones we have voluntarily fallen for. Many among us are driven by tendencies, not by choice. "If one wants to go beyond established tendencies," says Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, "the only doorway is to become conscious and aware of what is now. This may not come to you unless you do the necessary Sadhana to raise the intensity of your energies to a certain pitch that makes being conscious a natural process."
Ironically, our perspectives are today as frazzled as our bodies, minds and relationships - in fact, our entire spiritual being. All we need to do is live in the present-moment and identify where we need to expend and invest our energies.
We all marvel at the astonishing mechanism that our body is. It is also probably one of the biggest unresolved riddles of all times. For it to function efficiently, it is best that we let it do so naturally. This is something rendered impossible by the sacrifice of food, exercise and sleep at the altar of deadlines.
It is imperative that we communicate with our body and religiously respond to it. We must treat our body with the same respect that we accord to valuable and irreplaceable objects in the material world. This respect fosters a sense of partnership with the body and elicits reciprocal energy. If we treat our body as a structure worthy of respect, it is bound to respond in kind. Our body is the basis of our existence and the first sign of what is wrong with us; it reflects the slightest of disturbances in our psyche.
The deep connection between our body and mind is well understood now. Even in the context of illness, spiritual luminary Deepak Chopra observes, "One must always look at the psycho-physiological component of illness; inflammatory diseases are frequently associated with inflammatory emotions, while depressed emotions may contribute to depressed immunity."
We also know that most of our physical ailments emanate from stress. The elements of stress, according to HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, are lack of energy; the desire to achieve in too short a time; and, not being in a pleasant state of mind. "These can be combated by increasing one's energy level, confidence and trust," he says. "There can be many causes for stress, but it is possible to eliminate them through self-knowledge and meditation."
We are what we think. Therefore, our mind, which is an endless process of thoughts, assumes importance. It is crucial to train the mind. The mind is a servant and should be made to behave that way. If one can un-condition the mind from the influences of the outside world, one can experience real joy and sense of fulfilment in everything one does. However, the mind often harbours debilitating emotions.
The best way of addressing an emotional problem hindering us is to identify its cause, move through the experience of the accompanying situation, and take the associated emotions to completion in order to let go of the niggling bitterness. More than forgiving, or forgetting, it is about reaffirming our readiness to heal, without which healing cannot occur. Healing also involves loving oneself, which in turn, helps us validate our emotions. The energy that helps us heal comes from love - both given to oneself as well as received from others.
Meditation is a powerful tool of gaining control of the mind. It helps us rediscover the quietness within, without forcing our minds into quietude.
Osho opines, "Meditation involves exposing yourself in front of yourself. That is the only way to be utterly true, because there is no fear. The freedom from desire, from the unconscious brings a different kind of natural stillness that arises within your being and starts to overflow." According to Osho, "The entire purpose of meditation is to make you aware of all that is 'mind' and 'dis-identify' yourself from it. That very separation is the greatest revolution that can happen to man."
It is important to recreate and experience the joy of being. Swami Kriyananda advises, "Develop the capacity to feel the symphony of life coursing through the veins, of the trees, singing and laughing with the children as they play, scudding with the clouds through the sky. This is life! True happiness has nothing to do with whether one has all the things that money can buy. It can be ours only to the extent that we have life within." Joy, he avers, is the greatest hallmark of spirituality.
Be it our home, or the workplace, relationships are how we relate to others. We have a relationship with everyone who we know and who is close to us. A supportive relationship can work wonders for our mental and spiritual wellbeing. Often, our preoccupations in life don't allow us to work on nurturing and sustaining such relationships. We would do well to give time to relationships.
According to Ramona Douglas, co-founder of the RAMLOR Foundation, in a supportive relationship, the word support is very important. "It means that our interaction supports another. This means more than supporting another in their decisions or actions, rather, we honour and validate who the other person is, through the act of supporting. In turn, this validates who we are. Both are supported, no one loses, no egos are involved, and in so doing, we honour the relationship."
Loving oneself is the most important prerequisite for loving relationships with others. This is what transforms our relationships and our lives. We must love the self first. According to Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, "Nearness comes not out of one's magnanimity, but out of love and compassion."
Chopra was once asked how he found time for family life as well as for medical practice, writing and travel. "I stay in the moment and allow everything to happen." "Not being attached to outcome allows me to do less and achieve more; it sometimes feels like doing nothing and achieving everything."
"One of the expressions of Western over-reliance on technology can be seen in the lack of patience in industrial society," says His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. "When you deal with technology, everything happens at the touch of a button. This conditions you to become so impatient that when you have an emotional or personal crisis, you don't allow time for the solution to take effect. This leads to all sorts of rash responses, like quarrels, fights, and so on."
Spirit and soul
The sense of a lack of purpose in life can be bewildering. In the spiritual world, seekers are often driven by this very quest for purpose. That is why, as soon as a soul begins to feel sober from the intoxication of life, the most effective spiritual redress comes not as a ready answer, but a question: "What is the purpose of my life?" In the absence of an answer, or an urge to find it, life too becomes vapid and characterless.
Says the Dalai Lama: "The very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience, I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of wellbeing. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears, or insecurities, we may have. It also gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace."
Isn't this enough reason that you make time for life, starting from this very moment?! When you do this, you will begin to live - and, live life to the full.
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