"The idea that there is a goal... is wrong. We are the goal; we are always peace. To get rid of the idea that we are not at peace is all that is required." ~Ramana Maharishi
..... A few days back I had an email from my first "V.B.F." from elementary school. (That is "very best friend" in true 1970's style). This summer marks the 20th year since graduating from high school in Brainerd, Minnesota. Bittersweet, I tell ya. Reconnecting with my long lost friend, I am reminded that our real work on this planet is to shed our skin that we work so many years with which to identify. When I graduated from college, ready to "take on the world" it was all about "gaining experience" so that I could get my dream job. Now, nearly 20 years later, I find myself disinterested in "running my resume", disinterested in talking about what I do for a living, where I went to college, whether or not I'm a doctor or a CEO or whether or not I'm married to one... what I've "done with my life" feels irrelevant at this time. Now, I find myself most interested in living my life from my heart, and taking care to be kind to myself and others.
I wonder what life is like for you all back at home. I hear stories from people fresh off the airplane from the States... stories about the economy, about the challenges so many are facing. Here, in Bali, we don't feel it like so many of you back in the U.S. are feeling it. So many people here live hand to mouth, so there is little talk of foreclosure, bankruptcy, the Dow, or being laid off. Many locals make less than $50 per month, and work long, laborious days. And still, I often wish you could be here and see how they live. And feel how happy they are. You'd know everything is all right in the world.
In these times, somehow, I feel the need to continue to be even extra grounded within myself. Who knows where any of us will be taken in this "life-boat". I believe it is worth remembering that each of us is complete. We are perfect in our essence and we are not our jobs, our houses, our cars, or even our bodies. We are perfect in our true essence, and we are O.K. Right now, right here. Just like this. Each of us is whole.
When fear surrounds us, this can be a difficult thread onto which to hold. We can be influenced by others' pain and fears and begin to worry about our own lives and securities. Truth is, nothing is secure. We know this deep within. No job. No house. No life. Nothing. Everything on this planet, in this life, is impermanent. Nothing lasts. Not even our bodies. And... this too is wholeness in its essence. And it is Grace.
Our work is to do our work... to create sustainable, meaningful, purposeful practice in our lives. In Yoga, we call this "Sattva". Ways in which to harmonize our lives, relieve our bodies of tension and our minds of fear. To soothe painful emotions and to create spaciousness, harmony, and contentment without reason in our lives. To be in this moment and to feel clear about the richness of this blessed life. Everything is what we call "prasadam" or grace. Even something that hurts. It is all grace. When we label an experience as "crisis" it is only because we don't understand it. Painful life experience, when coupled with consciousness, encourages us to pray, to be humble, to seek refuge, to surrender to the grace of peace and the natural laws of the universe, and to go deeper into ourselves and into Love. It is only when we resist pain, that we experience suffering. When we accept pain as grace, as prasadam, we grow. We learn, we evolve, we aspire to realize our wholeness, right here and now.
In Yoga, there are teachings about living a "Sattvic Lifestyle". This is about living in harmony. Here are some examples:
* Rise before the sun to pray, voice gratitudes and set your highest intentions for the day.
* Care for the body by using natural hair and skin care - bathe in the morning and before you turn in for the night and treat your body as a divine gift.
* Eat whole foods, prepared with loving thoughts and with gratitude.
* Eating moderately and avoid excess salt, oils, sweeteners, or spice.
* Consider eliminating caffeine and alcohol from your diet (No doubt these are difficult to practice for many of us - be patient with yourself).
* Eliminate meat from your diet, if it feels right... A baby step toward this Vedic truth is to choose to exclusively consume meat that has been raised humanely and to say a specific prayer humbly acknowledging that the life of a living being was sacrificed for your meal and then commit to transforming that energy into service and goodness.
* Exercise Gently: Doing our best to let go of needing to exercise to burn calories or maintain our physical identity, and instead, performing exercise that increases your life force and ability to positively impact others. Too often, exercise results in "burning out" or failing to honor the body's messages for rest, recovery, or gentle care. There is a balance, and depending upon one's Dosha, gentle or more challenging exercises may be appropriate. Being aware of what is best for you is the key. Start gentle and feel how your body responds, then go from there.
* Surround yourself and your family with music, reading, and entertainment that reminds us to practice simplicity, and to engage in meaningful action.
* Avoid "fear-evoking" television, news, and conversation.
* Speak to share light, rather than using words haphazardly that may result in dissonance, dischord, or "heat".
* Turn in before 11 pm, complete with 5-30 minutes of silence and prayer to calm the nervous system and prepare the body for a suitable night's rest.
In time, by practicing even a few of these Sattvic living practices, we experience more balance, inside and out, and peace becomes a predominant emotion in our lives.
I leave you with this: Be compassionate with your heart. Gentle with yourself. And ask yourself, "What can I do to increase my happiness, exactly as I am and as things are in this time and space?" There is nowhere to go for you to be more relaxed and at peace. Practice being peaceful and content right here right now without any expectation or wish for things to be different than they are.
May we experience absolute satisfaction in ourselves, by ourselves, without any particular reason.
My apple has spent the last six weeks in Singapore at the "computer doctor". Therefore no photos can be uploaded quite yet. As soon as my computer is repaired I will post photos.