Tag Archives: #innerpeace

Oops – I Made A Mistake!

As some of you may know, I took a new role [Read a bit about it in this blog]. I changed my profession. And being the kind of person I am, I read a book called ‘The First 90 Days’ as I transitioned into my job. One of the exercises is to evaluate how complex the move is, and my change was difficult at all levels – new area, a new profession, a new team and a lot happening in the role. 

In the past, I have made moves with unrealistic expectations of myself being a superstar the day I started. This time I thought I had set my expectations correctly – of learning for a year and give myself grace. Setting expectations did not prepare me for the actual thing – ‘You cannot tell how it is until you experience it.’ And it’s been such a long time since I had made a change. I forgot what it was like to struggle, feel like you are underwater some if not most of the times, realize that you just don’t something even if it is required for you to know. And worst of all, I did not consider I will make mistakes – things will happen that shouldn’t have. 

And I acknowledge my emotional maturity just because I can say – I am struggling, or I made a mistake publicly. It is ok to be vulnerable. Do not get me wrong – this experience, however painful it is right now, is precisely what I wanted when I took the new role. But it does not make it any easier as I go through the experiences. 

What am I learning from this situation? It feels like a time of change and upheaval in my life. I need these experiences to realize how much I have grown. Remind myself that the universe does not give me anything that I cannot handle. It will require me to dig deeper into my inner reserves of courage, patience and growth (more than now). Maybe it will teach me the much-needed lesson of humility. And strengthen my practice of looking at the entire picture. For every challenging experience I have – I have pleasant experiences. Connection with people, bonding with my team, the little aha as I learn something, feeling that you are using all parts of your brain. The feeling of quiet satisfaction when I realize I am fully capable of what the situation requires of me, newness, fresh perspectives, no judgements – not feeling bored. It has made me realize the importance of laughter – not to take life too seriously.

And most importantly, an opportunity to revisit what is essential in my life. Every painful situation is a way out of suffering. It is a reminder to ground myself even deeper in the NOW. This is the time to put into practice all that life has prepared you for. The question to ask is not what I want from my life but what life wants of me. Be the conduit for life.

Wake Up!

I had a dream that I was in a marketing office with my friend. My friend was having issues with her peer, and we were walking down the corridor to the boss’s office. All of a sudden fire alarm start – annoying kind, Kiiiiii-Kiiiii Kiiiii. We look at each other and assume it is some test and keep walking. We walk into the office, and I tell her peer to be nice to my friend. The alarm is still blaring. I also explain that I am intervening because I care about the project. The alarm is beeping faster now.

And then I realize that it is my clock alarm – I Wake Up. And all of a sudden the dream that was so real turns into nothing – just made up stuff. However, elaborate the dream might be when you wake up, you know it is not real.

The question is – do we realize that we dream in our so-called real life as well? Most of the time. Don’t believe me? How many times have you driven home without realizing that you are driving until you reach home? How many times have you zoned out in a meeting? How many times do you run through a scenario that happened in the past? Or you want to happen in the future?

Our minds are conditioned to either live in the past or the future. And for the most part, it is like they are on auto-repeat – there are a couple of themes that keep playing again and again. And we become those thoughts and lose touch with reality. When the only place we can truly live is in the NOW rest, everything else is in our head.

This year with people being in lockdown – the nature of our mind has become, louder and we are not able to ignore it. A lot of people assume that they cannot stop thinking about the to-do list because they are stuck at homes. The real truth is this is the nature of your mind, and you never noticed it before.

This jumping away from the present moment is more noticeable when you are doing something unpleasant. I got the idea for the blog while I was doing Surya Namaskar B in yoga – because I find it boring and painful and my mind jumped on the opportunity to escape. And then I woke up and realized that I was touching my feet with my toe.

So, what can you do about it? First, realize that this is the nature of your mind. It finds the present moment boring because there is nothing to do except live the current moment. There is no drama in the now. Second, notice whenever it jumps into the past or the future – even if it is after two hours of daydreaming. Third, whenever possible, bring your attention to your body – if you are sitting on a sofa, feel it. If you are typing, touch the keyboard.

Nothing like a dose of body sensations or breath to train our mind to be in the now. Where are you living?

You can find it – NOW

Meditation, Spiritual, Journey, Self, Isha, Tolle, Yoga, Consciousness, Presence – these have become buzzwords today. Almost everybody I know is aware of these things even if they are not actively practising. There is an aura or mystery around the whole spiritual journey which feels to be very remote from our day to day lives. For an ordinary householder who has a family to feed, a job to go to this seems irrelevant or impractical. And also to some unattainable unless you are going to sacrifice everything in your life or become a monk.

The reality is – that is not the case. It does not matter who you are – your race, wealth, family, gender – none of it matters. Each one of us can achieve inner peace NOW.

Imagine a drop of water longing to be an ocean. It keeps saying that it is stuck in a river, and there is no way it can experience the vastness of the sea or feel its unfathomable depths. What we forget is that the very essence of the drop of water or an ocean or a river is H2O. If the drop of water realizes that – then the vastness/depth of the ocean will not matter as much. Now, I am aware that this sounds very esoteric so I will switch to other examples.

Have you ever watched a beautiful sunrise, or a rainbow or a lovely tree or a flower? Have you ever watched a beautiful bride and cried? Have you ever looked at a baby or a young child and felt indescribable joy? If, the answer to any of this is yes – then you have already experienced inner peace within you. It might have been for a tiny fraction of second, but you have. Eckhart Tolle says that without these kinds of spaces, we would go mad.

Or, let’s say you have wanted something a car, promotion, a bigger house and you get it. At that moment for a brief second, you are happy because at that moment you are fulfilled.

And you know why we cry or feel so much joy and peace – because at that moment we have no thought. We experience the situation for it is – nothing is lacking or added. The moment as it is perfect. And to be honest, that is all there is – the present moment, NOW. If we can increase the span of time, we feel that space of ‘no-thing’ or no thought we will live in joy.

You can actively, consciously become aware of such moments, or you can induce them as needed. Please take a look at anything around you, be your dog, house plant or leaf anything and look at it without labelling it, or interpreting it. You will experience no-thought for a microsecond which will turn into seconds, minutes, hours – and an entire lifetime. And you will notice that when you genuinely look/see/hear or experience something in this manner, it will become more beautiful, melodious.

If it weren’t possible, we wouldn’t be discussing it. A part of us wants the inner joy and peace – that is why we do what we do.

How will you find space today?

Mirror Test

STORYLINE: Prisoners are made to work in inhuman conditions and have to produce a certain number of shirts by the end of the day. If one of them falls behind either that person is killed, or the entire unit suffers. The authorities approached one of the prisoners to become a supervisor – he takes up the dreaded role because if not him then somebody else would accept that position. And while he is the supervisor one of the prisoners on his team becomes seriously ill and falls back on her quota. He makes the call to kill her so that the rest of the unit can live a little longer. (This is roughly the storyline of one of the Law and Order episodes)

It was the supervisor’s choice to sacrifice the minority so that the majority can live. Was it the right choice? We don’t know, and we will never know. But in these cases what is most important is: can the supervisor wake up in the morning, look himself in the mirror and be at peace. Ultimately you live with yourself, your actions, your past, your thoughts.

Not all the choices we make in our lives have such dire consequences, but we are responsible for the smallest of our choices. Sometimes I wonder if ignorance is indeed bliss. There are so many moments in our life where we make decisions we are not aware of
– cutting somebody off in traffic
– closing the elevator door before anyone can get it – because we are in a hurry
– using the company printer for personal uses
The list is endless – we even have a term for this – white lies – lies/actions that we believe don’t hurt others.

And for the most part – we are not even aware of these choices, and we can look at ourselves in the mirror and feel at peace. Hence, ignorance is bliss.

The point here is that the size or the impact of your choice does not matter. What matters is how does that choice make you feel? Does it give you sleepless nights or does it bring a smile to your face everytime you think about it?

We all have a certain threshold unique to each one of us which when crossed will disturb our peace. That threshold determines whether we can wake up in the morning and look at ourselves. We have an inner radar, personal check that stops us from crossing the limit – the key is to listen to it. A lot of us suppress the original voice that tells us to stay but we press ahead, and an inner hell of mind chatter replaces our inner peace. We try to reduce those thoughts by other distractions like continually keeping busy, eating a lot of food, watching movies.

Buddha said that hell and heaven exist within each of us and this is what he meant by it. Our choices are pathways to hell or heaven. And for some of us, we have lived in hell for so long that we do not even know there is any other place we can live in.

All great things start with awareness – let the light of awareness shine brightly on each one of us.

How Am I Doing?

Across the world, there are a lot of different ways of saying Hello. In England talking about the weather is a way of starting a conversation – even though the weather doesn’t change – it is just gray, gloomy and dark. In most places – “How are you?” is the common greeting. At work especially – as you pass somebody in the corridor, in the elevator – the conversation starter is, “How are you doing?”.

And my answer is Good most of the time. A couple of the times I had somebody question me, “Really?” I was taken aback, and I responded back with, “Why – should I not be feeling good?” And this got me thinking and hence the blog.

For most people, the way they feel depends on what is happening in their life.
A disagreeable meeting with a stakeholder – lousy day
Had a promotion – good day
Boss unhappy – bad day
Got bonus – good day

The list is endless – but what this means is that you have no control over your mood. Your well-being is dependent on the events that happen in your life, and you are a slave to them. And as such you have no control over your happiness.

I fundamentally disagree with this approach. I am happy regardless of whatever happens in my life. Just because I had an awkward conversation with one of my team members does not mean I am going to be upset. The level of peace and contentment in me does not vary because of that one incident. Now, don’t get me wrong – it does not mean that I don’t think about it, wonder what I could have done better, or give myself a pat on the back if it went well – I do all these things, but they don’t affect my mood. They are the exception as opposed to the norm.

It is simple to me, but I am finding it is a complicated concept to explain to others. For them that is the way the world works – you should be upset if something terrible happens and overjoyed if something good happens and they are ok with the emotional roller coaster.

I have made a conscious choice not to do the above. At some point in my life, I had the same mental model – I got a call for the interview I was delighted – the sun was shining, and birds were chirping. I did not get the job – Why is it so hot? And do the birds always make so much noise. But I realized that I could not live my life like this – as I have no control over the outcomes and to tie my happiness to something I have no power over sounded silly and I started working towards it to get to a point where I am equanimous most of the time. With equanimity comes the knowledge that change is the only constant.

Your inner peace is the genuine measure of happiness, not the events that come and go through your life. We are like the ocean – we experience the waves as they arise and pass away, but the ocean is the constant.