Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Who Am I?"... Part 2: The Mind & Emotions

In the last post  we went through a common error that happens for every human being on this planet... That we restrict our identification only to the superficial, physical level, thereby creating an immense sense of smallness in each of us.

Another common trap is to identify with the emotions and the mind. When our mind gets restless, we are all over the place. It is often said that humans have monkey minds, and this is no surprise to any of us! From the moment we wake up, the thoughts start coming in, and they don't stop, until we go to bed. Even then, they can keep us from falling asleep! We are all the time overwhelmed with "to do's", "not to do's", "shoulds", "shouldnts", worries, fear, grief, pain, anger, etc. In fact, we are totally submerged in them. We live our life by them, without even realizing it. This can cause tremendous amount of stress and strain to a person, and can easily flow from a mental disturbance to a physical ailment. Let's take a deeper look!

Has it ever happened to you that you got hurt by someone, and that hurt quickly turned into anger. Out of anger you then screamed at the person, insulted him, hurt him back (even a pinch more than you got hurt yourself) and then spent the rest of your day with steam blowing out your ears. The next day you wake up feeling a little better.. and slowly as the anger goes, you start to realize what you have just done the day before, and the damage you may have caused the other person. You then realize that you said alot of hurtful things, start to feel guilty, and (hopefully) will ask for forgiveness from the other person.

What happened here is that there was no distance between "you" and the emotion. As Pujya Swamiji nicely says "when there is no control, you allow the emotion to take you for a ride". You get so sucked into the moment, the feeling, the emotion, and it determines each of your words and actions! But in fact, it's not really "you" who is talking! It's all a manifestation of the uncontrolled emotion, that goes a long way to cause damage to yourself and others. Anger is nothing but hurt talking. And where does the hurt come from? Usually an unfulfilled desire or expectation.

So how can we come out of this? The best way is to be like a साक्षी (saakshi) witness, to our emotions. You can feel the anger coming, the irritation, the sense of rejection and hurt- whatever it may be- and you look at it from a distance. Observe the emotion. In fact, welcome it! Let it come, because it is not you- it is separate from you. It is momentarily. And that which is momentarily, cannot be you. So let it come, let it be there, and let it pass. Let it be under your control, as we say in Sankrit, have that शम shama. Shama means mind control, having the capacity to control and direct our mental energy. So that we are the ones in charge, not the emotions. We decide how we feel, rather than feeling drained under a waterfall of emotions. This is a healthy mental attitude to have, and requires great practice!

Similarly with our thoughts. It's a common tendency for us to impose certain restrictions in our lives. I should be like this (i should be more friendly/ hard working/ determined/ sporty etc) and i should not be like this (i shouldn't be so lazy/ easy going/ direct etc). And we allow our life to get controlled by these self-imposed shoulds and shouldnts, without realizing the harm of it. There is no such thing as you SHOULD. Should why? Who said? For what reason? Why not differently? Why unneccesarily pressurize yourself with such notions? And why impose the same notions to others around us, prescribing them to be a certain way. Allow all to be as they are. Give them, and yourself, the freedom to be as you are. That's true love. It's acceptance. Graceful acceptance of what IS. This includes love for yourself. Treat yourself the same way you would treat your best friend! It's called being an 'inner friend'. And tell your inner friend this: "There are no shoulds and shouldnts. I will do whatever works for me (or works for us)". That way you can relax, and do things according to your capacity.

Everyone has heard the famous saying "I think, therefore, I am". But guess what.... even when you don't think, you still ARE! Creating that mental space between our thoughts, worries, and emotions, allows us to keep control and realize that we are separate from them. All these are क्षणिक momentary, but the I, the indweller of the body, is a witness to all of them... As though we are watching a movie in the theatre. We cry, we laugh, we enjoy, we suffer... Yet all along, we know that it's just a movie.
Similarly we enjoy each and every genre of the show of life.

Further reading:

"Who Am I?"... Part 1: The Body

"Who Am I?"... Part 3: The Limitless, Whole.

No comments:

Post a Comment