Self-acceptance and Other-acceptance are inter connected.
Accepting oneself and the other in our lives is an ongoing journey as we go
through different phases of growth and development and face existential
challenges in our life. We never become perfect and can tell us “ I made it
and nothing I need to learn and change.” We all are journeying. We all are
human beings with our strengths and weaknesses.
The perfection syndrome prevents us from looking at our shortcomings and
making necessary adaptations and health promoting changes. This is
where the inner work of working on ourselves mindfully continues with ups
and downs in our life. With mindfulness practice, the upward journey gets
smoother and easier and helps us go through the downward journey with
fewer bruises. Ongoing introspection and self-awareness are our great
friends to keep us walk on the wholesome path.
Being honest with oneself and cultivating integrity are essential steps for
our well-being and the well-being of others in our life. And that requires
courage and compassion to be true to oneself. Fear is contagious and so
also courage. Hiding, denying or justifying the dark zone of ourselves
diminishes our potential to grow within us and between us. Let yourself say,
“ This is who I am, a human being like you.” I have my open self, closed
self, hidden self and the self about which I do not have a clue. My intention
is to expand my open self, reduce my closed self, enlighten my blind self
and go deeper to discover my unconscious blockages and be free from my
self-created trappings. Carl Jung calls shadow work-working on the dark
zone of our life.
This is an ongoing intrapersonal and interpersonal work in relationships.
You can’t know until you know and when you know, you know. I know that I
don’t know is the beginning of knowing. No emotions are wrong. Not
recognizing our emotions keeps us trapped and blocks the unfolding,
experiencing and manifesting our deeper and inherent positive kind, loving
and nurturing emotions. We need to be compassionately aware of our
holding on to the tightness of our fist, the hurt it creates and be willing and
bold enough to let it go and open it. The open fist is a welcoming fist, a
helping fist and a connecting fist. It offers the joy of giving, receiving, and
Being compassionate to oneself, forgiving oneself, freeing oneself and
taking care of oneself paves the way to be compassionate to others.
forgiving others, freeing others and taking care of others.
Self -acceptance done lovingly and compassionately is transformative. It
builds the bridge of self-empowerment, peace, deep contentment, joy and
happiness within ourselves and with others. When we practice mindfulness
consistently on a regular basis, we become free from our habitual and
conditioned patterns of thinking, emoting and acting. We function
May we continue our well-being journey mindfully, and lovingly share our
gifts with others.
Our parents used to say; ”Lasting relationships are made in heaven by gods and nurtured by humans on earth.” This saying applies to both of us. Telling our life story to our children and grand children has become a yearly ritual in our extended family. They have been always curious to know how two people from vastly different backgrounds came together and sustained an unbroken relationship for nearly sixty years. Every year we gladly and happily share our life story with them and we know how that experience has created a strong bond among ourselves. We are equally happy to share our life story with you though we do not know you. Such real life stories build an invisible but strong bond between people regardless of time, space, ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries. Our life story is a story of building such a bond beyond boundaries. It is indeed a Yoga of Relationship.
My Roots (Jagdish)
I (Jagdish) was born in a traditional poor Hindu Brahmin family and we, my parents, four brothers and three sisters, lived in a small house. Though we were poor, my father was highly respected in our community for his scholarship, his devotion to God and his integrity. He was a teacher, a poet, a storyteller, a devotional singer and a healer. He always stood on his ground against popular winds and was never afraid of telling and living the truth. He followed traditions without being bound by them. He had an abiding faith in God and he believed that God would never forsake him. We faced many hardships and there were times when we did not even have two meals a day. My mother was a woman of heart. She was a very sweet and giving person. My friends used to say that the piece of home made bread they ate at our home tasted sweeter than any other bread they had eaten because my mother made it. I never heard my mother complaining against my father for not having enough clothes or other material comforts. She always counted blessings and never cursed the darkness. Though from a material perspective we were poor, we were rich in what was important. I am deeply grateful my parents for teaching us such a great lesson in life.
We used to have evening chanting and meditation sessions in our house. I distinctly remember the devotional songs sung by my father and how joyfully we all sang along with him. Those two hours of chanting and singing devotional songs and meditating together laid a spiritual foundation in our life. I would never forget how my father lovingly offered his early morning hours to teach us and help us in our studies. He did not impose his wish, his way or his expectation upon us. He just offered his helping hand whenever we needed it. Such a helping stance made us approach him more to ask for help whenever we needed it. Another lesson he taught simply through his presence: it is the presence of a person that is more effective than words of advice, lectures or sermons.
My mother’s presence in our family was more serene, supportive and comforting. Her path was the path of devotion. Every morning she spent time in a little corner to worship and pray to Krishna- one of the ten incarnations of God in Hindu mythology. Her heart was filled with devotional joy, peace and deep contentment. Her presence was very calming. We could be totally ourselves in her presence. Her love was unconditional. She embodied forgiveness and kindness. When successes and failures would affect us she used to remind us to live like a lotus in the water-jalakamalavat- connected but nonattached and unbound, to be in the world and not of the world. She was a busy housewife and caretaker but she always found time to attend to our needs. To her we were more important than the work she was doing or the things around us. Once I drew a picture on a piece of paper. I was very eager to show it to my mom. She was busy cooking. She saw my eager face. She put aside what she was doing and paid her undivided attention to me. Her face mirrored my excitement, pride and delight. I was privileged to have such experiences that enriched my life.
"Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the presentvmoment, nonjudgmentally. It is about knowing what is on your mind.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
“ Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We gain immediate access to our own powerful resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the pioneer of bringing Mindfulness to the main stream in 1979. Since then it has grown by leaps and bounds in U S and in many countries of the world. Mindfulness is a life changing practice. Numerous substantial studies have demonstrated the biological,neurological, mental, emotional and relational benefits of consistently practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness cultivates and sustains skills for growth and development in our personal life, interpersonal life, family life and in the community at large.
Numerous research studies have demonstrated benefits of regularly practicing mindfulness.
● Reduces Stress. Calms mind, relaxes body and creates a relaxation response.
● Stay Healthy. Reduces pain and inflammation, builds a stronger immune system, lowers blood pressure, recovers faster and conduces better sleep
● Improves Relationships. Helps us shed our defenses and grudges. Creates attunes,spaciousness and gracefulness that bonds us with others.
● Increases Performance. Mindfulness enhances focus, attention, memory, compassion, collaboration and other critical skills for increasing performance.
● Adding Years to Life. Mindfulness changes gene expression. Telomeres grow stronger and longer, correlating with longevity. Mindfulness adds years to life and life to years.
● Awakens and Expands. Mindfulness helps us connect more consciously with our full self and greater callings.
It is never too late to learn new tricks of the trade! Welcome to the journey of Mindfulness!
Mind can bind us and mind can free us. How do we use our mind? If we become aware of our mind, we notice it trapped by thoughts and emotions usually relating to the past or future. Spiritual teachers compare such mind with a wild elephant or a monkey mind. We all know how the wandering mind wanders in the clouds of wishing and craving, worrying and fighting, and holding several negative thoughts and emotions draining our energy. We also know how it affects our physical, mental and emotional health; how it affects our behaviors and our relationships. Wherever we go, we carry our mental and emotional backpacks.
We all want to make our mind free from the grip of such energy draining thoughts, emotions and feelings. We all want to live in a calm, peaceful, loving and happy home of our mind. How can we attain our goal? How can we befriend our mind? How Can we convert the negative energy into positive energy? How can we free ourselves from ourselves?
One of the ways to attain our inner freedom is to become mindful of our mind spinning the same mental commentary, the same old stuff. Mindfulness is paying our full attention to what is happening in the present moment without judging. There are two wings of our self that help us to be from the the cage of bondage. One is mindfulness and the other is heartfulness.
Mindfulness is allowing the disturbing thoughts and feelings come. It is like inviting guests to our house. As the Sufi poet Rumi says invite all of them, pleasant and pleasant, without discriminating. This is paradoxical or counterintuitive. It is by letting things come, we make them go. As Saint Francis of Assisi says it is by giving we receive. We do this compassionately and kindly. Self compassion creates compassion for others.
Mindfulness and compassion, open mind and loving heart, creates a shift in our consciousness, expands our consciousness, frees us from our constricted consciousness. In order to expand our consciousness and to set our mind from the self -created suffering, we need to practice mindfulness meditation, the practice of letting the clouds of our mind come non-judgmentally and compassionately and letting them go away without pushing them out or trying to tame them. We arrive home, the abode of calmness, peace, clarity, love and joy.
From evolutionary point of view, the brain is wired to fight, flee or freeze for protecting ourselves. In this context, fear is an instinctive response for our survival and security. The fear mentioned in this writing is psychological created by human conditioning. The conditioned mind reacts to a perceived stimulus and makes us resist, oppose, run away, hide or deny. Such dysfunctional patterns of perceiving, thinking and behaving block our potential to see things as they are externally and internally. Sadly, these patterns become habitual and block our growth and development personally and inter personally.
" To want to see clearly is a true act of fearlessness." This statement says it all. When my eyes open to see my own suffering as it is, the gate to working on my suffering opens. I need to see my blindness with an open mind and heart, courageously and compassionately. Such mindfulness seeing is not an analytical intellectual process. Mindfulness is observing without judgment what I am experiencing in the here and now consciousness, in the present moment. The mind gets free from holding onto the past and being hijacked by the future, from regrets, anger, shame, humiliation and guilt or from fear, worry, apprehension and anxiety. The present moment has no clouds or shadows blocking the light of knowing which removes the darkness.
Mindfulness has been my way of working on myself. Mindfulness meditation has helped me to discover and meet my true self. It has opened the door of my life for receiving blessings coming from everywhere. I am very grateful for receiving such blessings.
May we cultivate fearlessness and mindfulness to live a blissful and joyful life!
All wisdom traditions emphasize the significance of awakening as we are going through the journey of life. As I child I used to listen to the song my father used to sing every morning. It is in Hindi. “Utha jag musafir bhore bhai, ab rayan kahana tak sovat hai. Jo sovat hai vo khovat hai, jo jagat hai vo pavat hai.” Hey traveler wake up! How long will you sleep? The morning has already dawned. One who awakens gets the blessings. One who keeps on sleeping, loses the gift of life.
Life offers many opportunities for us to wake up. When we are not awake, we stumble, fall down, hurt ourselves and hurt others close to us and around us. We inflict suffering on us and others. If we open our eyes and see us falling down, we stand up and walk on the same path with awareness. Falling down leads us to rising up if we are awake. If we keep our eyes closed, we keep on falling down causing suffering. When we are awake, we hold the hand of someone falling down with kindness and compassion. And this way, we help others to wake up-one lamp lighting the other.
Awakening happens when we are attentive to our footstepping. We are mindful of what is happening within us and around us. We are aware of ourselves and aware of our surroundings-human and natural beings. Awakening is non-judgmental existential awareness-mindfulness, clear consciousness without mental and emotional clouds or chattering. We see things clearly, we hear sounds clearly. Awakening evokes or invokes clear light of knowing and compassionate energy resulting in wise speech and wise actions. Awakening is not a conceptual knowing or conceptual understanding. It is a state of being. Right thinking, right feeling and right doing arise from the ground of being.
Awakening is like the light that shines in every corner of our life. Awakening is like the flower that spreads its fragrance in every corner of our life. In the awakened state of consciousness nothing is missing. There is deep sense of contentment and fullness. The cup of our life is filled with love, compassion and joy. As the sage sings in Ishavasya Upanishada - a book of wisdom-” Purnamadam, Prurnamidam, Purnat Purmaduchyate. Purnasya Purmadaya, Purnamam Avashisyate.” This is full. That is full. If you take the fullness out of the fullness, what remains is the fullness. If you add fullness to the fullness, what remains is the fullness.”
What do we experience when we live in an awakened state of consciousness? What happens when the stream of awakening flows through our everyday living? We feel oneness in everything.The other is me and I am the other. We are not apart from each other and from nature. We are an integral part of each other and of nature. The light of the Divine love shines and we embrace all beings with unconditional love.
We all have the potential to be awakened. We need to be aware of the obstacles created by our unawareness. We need to recognize the bondage we have created by ourselves. With the light of awakened consciousness, we let ourselves be free from the self-created bondage. It is called moksha-liberation and such a person is called muktatma- liberated soul.
True love knows no boundaries and no demands, no conditions. We all have been blessed to experience such unconditional love, love arising and emanating from pure heart, pure consciousness. Life begins with such pure love in the mother’s womb. Life is birthing with such pure love. Life is nurtured and sustained with such pure love. Life blossoms by the loving and tender touch of the other person; life grows by the loving and compassionate support of the other person. In loving relationships, there is loving presence transcending the conditioned and judgmental mind. Such loving relationship is not bound by space and time. Such relationships happen between strangers and may be for a short time leaving the fragrance of connectedness.
Family is the cradle for creating, growing and sustaining such profound and rich relationships. In such relationships we experience oneness and harmony in spite of differences. We relate to each other mindfully with an open mind and heart, with empathy, kindness, and compassion. There is also emotional love. The pure love can be tarnished by the conditioned mind, the judgmental mind, holding on to the past grudges and unfinished businesses. Such love causes disruptions, distress and illness. It may lead to break ups-head aches and heart aches.
We need to awaken our heart and clear our head. Such work requires mindfulness practices on a regular basis. We need to make a wise choice for a greater good. Fear, anger, shaming and blaming hijack our positive emotions such as love, empathy. Kindness and compassion. Emotional self-awareness is very helpful to end a hijack. Emotional self-awareness is paying full and non-judgmental attention to what is happening in our mind and body. Deep belly breathing is a very effective way of regulating our emotional reactions. When we regularly practice processing difficult emotions and thoughts mindfully, it becomes easy to bounce back to our loving presence and compassion. We make a U turn, a shift from negative energy to positive energy. We return to our home, the abode of pure love.
How to deal with this strong affliction affecting us in many ways? To vent or not to vent is the question.
Anger is energy. How do we use it, how do we manage it? This is a big challenge for all of us.
There are four ways we deal with anger: Release angry feelings in an intense and explosive way. Type A personalities display this pattern and these patterns become habitual. We may describe them as “hot heads”. Then there are those who consciously suppress such feelings and stuff them. We may describe them as “suppressers”. There are those who unconsciously suppress their anger-filled feelings. We may describe them as “repressors”. People who stuff their angry feelings and do not deal with them constructively often display passive aggressive behaviors. And there are those who mindfully manage their angry feelings in constructive ways. We may describe them as “cool heads”.
Spending twenty minutes a day to practice Mindfulness Meditation is very beneficial for our mental and emotional wellness. It lays a good foundation for living clearly and peacefully.
We are a social being. We have a need to belong to, to be connected, to take care and to be taken care of, to share our dreams, joys and sorrows. We create a social net work, a world of relationships of all kinds. The closer the relationships, the greater are the challenges and opportunities for growth and development. A big challenge in interpersonal relationship is how to work through differences without causing emotional distances. What do we do to create and sustain bridges instead of walls? How do we communicate as I to I rather than I vs. I or I and It?
This is where the practice of Mindfulness Meditation comes into play.
Create personal space and time for processing the inner stuff by recognizing (awareness) and staying with it(attending) non-judgmentally, non-critically, without reacting , accepting it. This needs to be done gently, patiently and compassionately. We do not get stuck with or dwell on the energy draining recurring negative stuff. We are making a shift from fight, flight and freeze stress response zone to a stress free flowing zone. We are on the path to wellness. We are coming out of the cloudy sky to a clear sky. A wholesome understanding and insight arise from the clear mind. Right knowing leads to right speech and right action. We get numerous opportunities in our daily life to practice mindfulness meditation. We do not hold onto and accumulate negative stress resulting in self and other hurting behaviors.
The same procedure needs to be used when we encounter differences in intimate and important relationships. We follow the same procedure as a couple or as parents, teachers or friends and colleagues. We need to create space within ourselves and between ourselves to create and sustain I to I mode of communication resulting in we-together- mode of communication. We get numerous opportunities to work on ourselves personally and interpersonally.
So let us do it.
Empathy is discovering and understanding the other person’s perspective, his needs and feelings to guide our actions. A revolutionary shift has taken place in postulating the nature of human nature. The old view that the human nature is basically bad and self-centered is being replaced by the research made by psychologists, sociologists, historians, evolutionary biologists and neuroscientists. Their research has shed a new light on the basic nature of human nature. We are also homo empathicus wired for empathy, social cooperation and mutual aid. We are social beings naturally evolved to take care of each other, just like our primate cousins.
We are primed for empathy by having strong attachment and bonding relationships with the care- taker in the first two years of life. The good news is that we can nurture empathy through out our lives. We can make empathy as an attitude and an important part of our daily life.
Research studies of empathic personalities have identified the following six characteristics of empathic persons:
1. They have genuine curiosity about strangers, persons out of their social circle. Such curiosity expands our empathy circle. They show an earnest interest to understand the world inside the mind of the other person.
2. They challenge their own preconceptions and prejudicial labels about people different from themselves. For example, “ Muslims are fundamentalists”; “ Homeless people are lazy and parasites”, “ The well-fare mom”. Have courage to chat with a stranger with a curious and open mind once a week. You will find a lot of commonalities between you and them-the same needs, the same aspirations and the same pains and sufferings. We discover humanness in people who apparently look so different from us.
3. They implement experiential empathy learning model. Peace core workers are a good example of such empathy learning. We may have information and bookish knowledge of people who are different from us. What is missing in our education is the experiential component of real and significant learning. We need to be reminded of John Dewey’s words of wisdom: “ All genuine education comes about through experience.”
4. Listen hard and attentively and open up. This is the radical art of listening. As Marshall Rosenberg says, “ Empathy is our ability to be present to what’s going on within the other person-the unique feelings and needs the person is experiencing in the very present moment.” We need to grasp their emotional state and needs at the present moment.
5. Inspire change on a personal and inter personal level, class -room level, home level and on a community level. We need to plant the seeds of empathy in our children and they will flower on a larger scale. Canada’s pioneering program Roots of Empathy is one of the most effective programs for teaching empathy to schoolchildren. Research shows the positive impact of this program on children’s social and emotional intelligence, decline in aggression and improving their academic learning.
6. They do not interrogate or examine people of differences. They show genuine curiosity to develop deep understanding and relationship. Such open- hearted communication and interaction helps them examine their own limitations, biases and preconceived notions. It opens avenues for both sides to learn from each other and grow within and between.
Site powered by Weebly. Managed by iPage