Now to answer the second question I had posed in my previous post. Am I growing on this spiritual path? Yoga, is not just the asanas that we do, when on the mat, it is also what we do when we are off the mat. On the mat, things are pretty easy, it is only me, my body, my breath and my thoughts. But once I step off the mat, then I am interacting with the world, in different capacities – as a husband, as a son, as a father, as a brother, as a friend, as a colleague, as a customer, as a supplier, as a teacher, as an employee, as a manager, etc. or whatever else. Every interaction provides me an opportunity for growth, if and only if I am aware.
The growth happens when I am aware and conscious of what is happening within me, during these interactions with the world. What feelings, sensations and thoughts are coming up within me during these interactions? Am I getting angry, fearful, jealous, exasperated, irritated, critical, worried, anxious, stressed, violent etc? Do I look down upon some people or am I in awe of others? Am I jealous of someone else’s success or happy for them? Am I present fully with the person with whom I am interacting with or is my mind all over the place? How do I react when someone says something that I do not want to hear? Am I able to forgive and move on? Can I be compassionate and kindful to the person in front of me? Am I able to exhibit my positive qualities of chosing joy, happiness, contenment, kindness, forgiveness and uplift the person in front of me? Can I continue the spread the message of peace and light inspite of the provocations?
Growth is in the awareness, when the awareness goes away, none of these come to mind. Then the whole thing becomes like sleepwalking, going through the motions of living with slightly more awareness than one who is dreaming!
Spirituality is not just sitting in a secluded place and meditating. It is a dynamic process of living life to the fullest, by being aware of what one is doing and why? The striving is to transform the character,consciousness, and conduct.
How do I measure if I have grown? I believe that this is quite simple, I have grown when I am able to put in practice all that I teach – acceptance, taking unconditional responsibility, living in the present etc. – when these qualities become an integral part of my character, conduct and consciousness and does not remain with me as concepts or intellectual knowledge. It is inevitable that we interact with the world and not suffer criticism, or be the butt of jokes, or be looked down upon or even picked on either deliberately or accidentally. There are enough opportunities for me day in and day out to see if I am living the knowledge or not.
And how do I know if I am learning these lessons? Or in other words, how do I know if I am on the right path? The answer for me lies in meditation.My meditation practice allows me to go beyond the surface level of the mind into more deeper realms, where all the latent tendencies that I have gathered over the years – tendencies such as fear, greed, anger, jealousy,resentments, obsessions etc – lie waiting, ready to explode, during any small interaction with the world. Just observing what lies beneath, and becoming aware of it, has brought a qualitativ change in my interactions.
I believe that Spirituality is looking at one’s ownself in the mirror – everyday and being absolutely comfortable with the reflection that one sees in the mirror. Except that the mirror is not a physical mirror but my own conscience. Spirituality is being absolutely in harmony with what I see in the reflection. If I have done actions that go against my values and against the spirit, I cannot absolutely look at myself in the mirror and be content and happy. Those days, when this happens, I observe that the meditation too stops at a superficial level, I am unable to go deeper and something starts gnawing at me. Indications that I have swerved from the path.
This path is being brutually honest with oneself. I cannot look at myself in the mirror and be untruthful!
There are no shortcuts – absolutely none at all!
At the same time, this path is such a beautiful one, whatever little I have experienced it to date. Each day, an opportunity to deepen my practices, to observe the play of my mind and self will, to learn, and to radiate the peace and spread the light of knowledge and wisdom.
Blessings come in many forms, for me this opportunity of being able to live this knowledge and spread the joy and peace has been an incredible blessing for which no amount of gratitude would suffice.
As Guruji says, “The path is very long – the goal is in every moment; the goal is where you are”
More mundane Stuff and other FAQs about the sabbatical, some other time.