This workshop organised by NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health, spanned 4 sessions and 4 days and was eloquently, engagingly and dynamically facilitated throughout by Dr. Monica Gulati. It was a sacred time to enquire into the depth of our own sincerity The emphasis was always on practice rather than dry theory. About 25 people registered for this event. Participants were invited to write and share reflective notes after every session, s very valuable tool for introspection.
‘Waking up from Slumber’, was a call to reclaim our kinship to our true self, our psychic self. The call promises a journey to a state of higher consciousness, as we embark on a loving exploration of our self.
The journey acquires strength through the power of Aspiration and Will, as we shout a firm ‘No’, to the whims of our turbulent emotions that toss us mercilessly and we refuse to pitch our tent on the tenuous soil of ego-centricity. It’s born of a resolve to claim our ability to end our suffering that has been given a long lease of life by our habit of clinging to the bruised thoughts and emotions that begin to script a story of its narrow choice.
To quote Sri Aurobindo, “ We live in the fiction of our thoughts “,and fence ourselves from the greatness of who we are meant to be. We live by the stories in our head and our mind drifts endlessly from scene to scene. Wedded to our sense –mind, we constantly live a life, whose luminosity is obscured by ignorance of the true nature of the self. We need to understand and become aware of the transient nature of thoughts and emotions that flood our being . Our sufferings are tethered to these and we graze on a feed of exaggeration and fabrication, only to experience an emotional void, a feeling of unease and emptiness. We live within the narrow walls of our likes and dislikes and allow our experiences within this framework of narrowness to water and construct our belief-system.. …. We thus begin to live patterns and forget to live and savour life in the here and now and ironically we seem to hunger for more of these psychological traps …. we allow ourselves to be defined by the roles we play, ignorant of their ‘shelf-life’; we try to breathe life into a role that has outgrown its usefulness, heed to the voice of the truant thoughts that reek of negativity and cast the veil of victim hood on us. Drowning in the egocentric consciousness, we see a virtual mire in any situation that doesn’t dovetail to our idea of conduciveness.
Identifying the shadow elements that exist even in polarities, and the toxicity that exists at either end of the psychological spectrum , is of primary importance in this journey towards light. It seems most natural and logical to choose things pleasurable.
Only when we are stationed in our true being and allow our acts and movements to flow in sync with the most noblest intent and aim that bespeak the language of the soul, the ‘ real-me, our path is free from the traps that may exist in the following: superficial ego- bound materialistic or vital gains, things pleasurable, which may contain the seed of toxicity and the flimsiness of fame and praise . Attachments, aversions and ignorance rule the roost in an ego- centred existence.
Our primary approach should be in the light of a strong living aspiration to simply shun the dreary habit of surfing the surface consciousness, move away from the weakness of justifying our reactions. Cultivating a nurturing optimism that would pave the way to genuinely explore the purpose of our lives becomes a must.
This journey in Light and vastness beckons us to transform our being and become a‘living love unto ourselves…. to initiate tiny steps to move away from the projections and voice of the surface consciousness that are constantly fed by the sense-mind, and its influence, re-orient our reactions and responses, move in the direction of an inwardness and reach out to the most beautiful aspect of our being, the inmost self, our true self.
It’s an invitation to become our own beloved, to become a loving custodian of our lives, to become a mitre, a friend. This concept of maithreyi, as encapsulated in the Buddhist culture, brings with it the role of compassion, gentleness, honesty and truthfulness that need to be woven into our practices that nurture us in this transition to experience a life that flows in synch with the truth of the being.
Awakening needs to go hand in hand with a progressive perspective of growing up…. growing up entails an honest journey to recognise the contours of our thought generating mind, meet our emotions and the shadows that lurk in it, our vital impulsions and the nature of physical aspect of our being that has the tendency to sleep-walk through life. Liberating ourselves from the clutches of a habit-oriented life can be taken up as a sadhana and entails an ascent, an expansion and a delving into the depths of our being. A journey in purification thus begins.
The Mother had emphasised the need to disassociate from the surface phenomena which are an amalgamation of ideas, dogmas, bodily sense-perceptions and be conscious of the inner movements. Disassociation doesn’t mean apathy or indifference. It is the practice, rather an art of cultivating a witness-poise, by distancing ourselves from the impressions of these movements and the stories scripted by destructive emotions such as anger, jealousy, etc. We need to face these emotions as they appear. Acknowledging their presence and feeling the sensations they cause in the body with a loving intent to live the truth of our being, brings in an experience and a realisation that is rewarding. These destructive emotions have only a tenuous life…. they vaporise soon, as a new influx of thoughts invade the mind; they may re-visit us as memories but in actuality have no solidity in them. Vigilance and remembrance are essential qualities in this journey to function from a truth-centred consciousness.
Bringing our mind back to breath and body which Dr. Monica continually emphasised, stationed in the simplicity of the here and now, not only hold the waves of overwhelming emotions at bay, but makes room in our body, mind and heart to welcome the nurturing quality of peace and calm. One can actually feel the sanctity of their cool presence. It is a journey in consciousness and consciousness is a bird with two wings. As the attributes of this practice in the context of being our own beloved are gentleness and unconditional love, it provides us with a wonderful anchoring to the poise of a gentle understanding sans judgments. As Thich Nhat Hanh explained, even if the present moment is a challenging one, this poise of being anchored in the present moment, in the rhythm of the natural breath as it flows in and flows out through the body, brings calm to the nerves and leaves us with the possibilities of being open and receptive to more empowering options that can effectuate a change in our responses to the given situation, and we are more alive to the many little blessings that come our way. Breath is a link to consciousness.
Awareness becomes Chit-Shakti, a power that effectuates action. By weaving in the strands of mindfulness and meditation, the Buddhist tradition initiates the aspirants in this journey of Awakening to spread the wings of compassion and unconditional love to the world at large. It advocates a practice that streams forth from the poise of the soul element when anchoring ourselves to the rhythmic flow of breath, we breathe in the concern and suffering that afflicts the multitude of lives and breathe out a blessing and prayer, in the presence and simplicity of the present moment. This meditative practice was vividly described by the facilitator. Such acts of Grace that bespeak the calm presence of the true self within us have the poignancy to cause a ripple effect in the vibrational pool of goodwill and benevolence that the universe holds. Our pain, our experiences can become doorways to a new awakening and the panacea that awareness and consciousness brings to our lives can translate into a luminous light to understand Reality in its absolute sense; this Awakening awakens the healing energies of love within us and we can contribute to the nurturance the world needs. As the Mother mentions, an unalloyed stream of love that springs from one’s psychic being has a deep transformative power. Let our awakening to the godhead within us be a labour of love. Let’s tune in to the subtle voice of the soul, the voice of wisdom and love that has the power to govern our lives.
Awakening from the slumber of ignorance is a call to wing our way towards luminous horizons and eternal dawns, where Consciousness reigns and rains a shower of luminous peace and understanding and enables us to see the Oneness that prevails in all and pervades creation.
“Very well organised workshop. Thank you so much for the uplifting experience.”
“Dr. Monica Gulati speaks straight from the heart…. her words hence touch the heart and are understood deeply and immediately.”
“James, your efforts in organising this programme, backed up with sharing summary notes and recordings were praiseworthy… summary notes do help as references.”
Monica, your deliberations on the subject backed up with short video clips of monks helped the understanding of concepts and their connections with daily life.”